I finished the sandwich, then threw it in the bin and leaned on the railing of the concourse. For a while I intently watched the giant clock on the wall, as if through sheer concentration and will power I could turn the hands and make the train arrive sooner.
My phone rang in my pocket, so I dug it out and looked at who was calling – it was my boss’s number, so I flicked it to silent and put it back in my pocket. It was already the tail end of a 13-hour journey and I just wasn’t in the mood.
I gazed down at the commuters shooting off in every direction, shades of black, grey, and blue; the occasional small highlight of colour, a tie, some socks – trying desperately to fight the norm. You could see clear lines of people rushing by like roads of commuters – the odd stray deviating for a sandwich, or a drink.
Then out of the banality, a woman in yellow stood like a beacon against the crowd. Her back was to me, but I could feel the anxiousness emanate from her as she craned her neck trying to look over the heads of the commuters. By her feet stood a plastic bag, laden with clothes, brimming out in a rainbow of riotous colour.
She looked up at the clock and I wondered if she was trying the same thing as me, but then she picked up the bag and tried to breach the line of commuters. Nobody had told her you needed to join them, then disembark like the train she was heading for. Time after time she tried to politely find her way through, only to be denied again and again. ‘Push’ I encouraged her, under my breath, in the hope that she’d find the confidence my words were offering.
Now pacing up and down the line of commuters she searched for a gap, ‘Push through them’ I urged, my voice now raised, as the people around me stopped and stared. Then disaster, as she caught her heel and went reeling, she dropped her bag as her arms reached out to break the fall – a stranger caught her in time and helped her up. Smiles, a short exchange of words as she pointed to the platform, a few feet away. The stranger pushed through and she was free.