Friday, 8 November 2019

"Do you own a car?"

I asked.
The woman I was speaking to looked at me in a very superior sort of way and said, "Yes, of course!"
I smiled - the very best sort of smile I could manage and said, "Well I don't. I have never owned a car - and my tricycle does not pollute the environment the way your car does."
There was a deathly hush around us.
I don't know what everyone was expecting. The woman in question had just complained, loudly, about me taking up space on the train with my tricycle.
Now let it be said here that I (1) only travel on the train when it is absolutely necessary - if I can pedal where I need to go I do and (2) that the transport system allows me and any bicycle rider to take their wheels on the train as long as there is room. You pay to take your wheels before 9am and after 3pm. (3) I need my tricycle to get to and from at each end of a train journey.
I was not in anyone's way. There was nobody in a wheelchair so I was using the wheelchair space. If someone in a wheelchair had boarded the train I would have moved slightly further away. As it was I had done the right thing and was "parked" out of the way. 
It didn't suit  the woman who complained.
    "People like you shouldn't use public transport. Get taxi vouchers or something."
Clearly she wasn't giving up. I just looked at her.
   "You know the driver is going to have to get out of the cabin again when you want to get off. He has to unlock that cabinet and get the ramp out just so you can get off and then put the ramp back and lock it again. It all takes time you know. People like you don't care about that do you?"
Actually I don't  use the ramp. I am expected to get my tricycle on and off unassisted. If the ramp does go down for some reason  I have been allowed to use it -  for which I am duly grateful. Do I care? Yes of course I do. I care when I see the ramp being put down grudgingly as if the person in the wheelchair or mobility scooter has no right to travel. I am all too well aware of the problems people with disabilities face in trying to use public transport.
There is no point in arguing with people as hostile as this woman. I didn't try. Someone else spoke to her instead. 
     "Madam, my brother uses a tricycle. He travels on the train every day."
     "Getting in the way of people going to work I suppose?"
     "No madam. He's going to work. He's a solicitor."
The woman got up and moved to the other end of the carriage. I had a brief but pleasant chat to the man in question. In the "small world" way his brother and I actually know one another. 


Anonymous said...

Why do some people poke their noses into - and give opinions on - things they do not know about and which are not their business? The woman could have complained about people frivolously using the train to go to the pictures, or non-essential shopping, or to visit theirs aunts, all possibly more likely than you and the cyclist were on the train deliberately to spoil her day.


jeanfromcornwall said...

People like that bring out the worst in me - they make me feel childish and spiteful. I would love to devise a way to publicly humiliate them, but how can it be done when they know the answer to everything!?
Best retaliation is to be happy!