“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” ~ Unkown
Today I saved a man’s life.
It was around 6:30 am and I was on my way to work. Funny thing is, I’d turned up 30 minutes early for my train by mistake, and I NEVER do that. So I thought I might as well just wait around for the train.
On my platform, among two other people was a guy in his mid-twenties. He didn’t say much, but it was his behaviour that caught my attention. He paced quickly up and down the platform continuously, eventually sitting by my side. I don’t even think he noticed me because he was deeply immersed in his mind whilst frantically rocking back and forth. He shivered loudly.
I peeled my attention away from my phone and the first thing I noticed were his shoes. They were trainers that had no laces in, and his feet were practically falling out when he walked. Before I knew it he had kicked them both onto the train track opposite and sat on the ledge. Commuters on the other side of the track began to shout at him, causing him to panic and walk in circles between the bench and the ledge. They had provoked him more than settled him because they were more concerned with getting to work than what he was about to do. He cupped his face in desperation, about to commit to the plan he intended to act on. At that moment, time slowed down, and I gained an instance sense of clairty. I decided to ask him a simple question.
“Are you okay?”
That’s all it took to stop him in his tracks (no pun intended). He looked at me, shocked. It was the first time I’d seen him out of his head. He stared at me sincerely and said ‘No. I’m not’. I saw loneliness. He walked away from the edge and sat down next to me. You could tell that it was the first time in a long time that anyone had asked him how he was. After about a minute he replied, ‘I’m very cold’. I smiled and responded ‘Go keep warm in the ticket office, there is plenty of time.’ He breathed deeply and nodded ‘thank you’. Although it was a short conversation, I got the feeling that that was enough for him to feel heard.
I didn’t say anything substantial or life changing but it gave him enough hope to change his mind. Thankfully once over in the ticket office, the station staff became alerted and took care of him until he got help. I got on my train grateful that I’d been able to help one person change the course of their life, and in another way, that he helped remind me to see the value of myself.
Be kind. It might just be what someone needs most.
Image source: http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/life-after-2016-grieving-our-living-losses-amid-change-0109174