Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mind my business, please. Don't worry, I will yours!

You know, I have had it. I am fed up with weird behaviour. Yes, 'weird' may be a rather subjective term, and yes, there is also a good type of weird - so allow me to clarify. Taking the train in Holland every day confronts me with some forms of human interaction, which to me seem wrong. Just plain wrong. People try not to sit near to each other, keep interaction to the lowest possible minimum and often are not even polite. It's awkward, unfriendly or even rude. I have started writing sweet letters in the first place to remind myself that we can also choose to be nice to each other. Just because we can.

A good kind of weird! (by Miriam van Oort)
Just now, I was on the train with my mother (after visiting my grandmother, a 2,5 hour train ride, one-way) and a girl in the four-seater opposite us, had her feet on the chairs in front of her. A lady came in and asked her very friendly if she could take them down. The girl responded "Why, there's enough space on the train, no?" and when the lady insisted that shoes on chairs made them dirty and that the girl's reaction was not very social, the girl replied "Don't have anything better to do than bug me? Don't you have a life?". I then could not take it anymore and was reminded of my pledge to mind other people's business. I said "Stop acting so weird! The lady asks you nicely if you want to take your shoes down". The girl put her earplugs back in and pretended we all were not there. 

I am sick and tired of this. I don't want to be part of a society in which people interact this way. The girl's behaviour was weird, but what I find even weirder is that normally, no one would support the complaining lady. They would pretend not to hear anything and simply look away. THAT, to me, is the weirdest part! Maybe my pledge will get me into trouble (in this case, I knew there were two guys behind us and I had made eye contact with the Spanish couple in front AND I am taking Chinese boxing classes - in other words, I was not scared of an attack) and maybe I will not keep my pledge when it concerns a group of four big men - but I just want to make a plea:

Please, let's mind each other's business again… Let's stand up for one another, take care of one another. Yes? Okay, good.

Footnote: Right after this incident the train conductor informed us that a passenger was having a heart attack and that he needed a doctor. The Spanish guy appeared to be one, so we went to help out (Me as the translator obviously. What else?). There were two other doctors on the train (how is that possible?), but I was happy with my pledge now. By telling the Spaniards why the train wasn't moving (and minding their business), he could have saved a life (in this case, hopefully others did). 

About the situation of my poor grandma, the state of our Dutch healthcare system and the way our society treats the elderly, I will rant some other time. But I did shed a tear about it. Sad.


Anonymous said...

plus, good things happen when you interact with other people in the train (or elsewhere for that matter). I met a very nice girl who ended up being my girlfriend in a norwegian airport train about 5 years ago ;-)

Amis Boersma said...

Yes, 'Anonymous' you're very right. Train rides can also bring happy surprises :)

Anonymous said...

You're never really anonymous on THE Internet ;-)