There are moments in life, as brief as they are fleeting, which do nothing to change the world yet lighten the mood and leave us with a chuckle. Two such occurred to me today with the space of two hours, both on the tube.
The first occurred on the outward journey. We reached Moorgate where the train stopped for a moment or two with the doors open. Opposite to me, two seats from a door, a young man was absorbed in his newspaper. Suddenly he emitted a little “Oh!” sound and sprang to his feet – a classic case of I-nearly-missed-my-stop. He dashed for the door and managed to alight just as the beepers announced that the doors were about to close. Several of us remaining passengers looked at one another and chuckled. I glanced out onto the platform and saw the young man. Looking slightly embarrassed, he smiled and gave a little wave before walking off towards the exit. That little interchange was one of the warm moments between strangers that are both amusing and touching and which you remember forever.
The second was when I sat down on the tube again on the inward journey. Tigger had saved me a copy of City A.M. for the sudoku puzzle. This tends to be a hard one and as I sat down, I saw a copy of another free newspaper, Metro lying on the seat nearby. Its sudoku is a little easier. I reached for the paper… and so did a man sitting the other side of it. We both stopped, smiled and gestured to the other “Take it”. Impasse. We sat there smiling at each other. Then I waved my City A.M. and said “You take it; I have one.” He took it and nodded his thanks. An unimportant exchange but cheering in its way.
As we arrived at Angel station, I saw that the other man had gone and that the Metro was again on the seat. I picked it up as I left the train. On the escalator, I opened it, looking for the sudoku. Ironically, the page was missing!
Neither incident is important in the history of the world yet they remain in my mind as strangely pleasant memories. Given that first contacts between strangers are often so easy and pleasant, how does it come about that there is so much hatred and violence between people all over the planet? If I could answer that question, I would be wise indeed.