Choose Life

This week a 40-something woman was killed when she jumped onto the subway tracks in New York to retrieve her gym bag.

It contained a change of clothes and her cell phone.  Bystanders yelled at her to lie on the tracks to allow the oncoming train to pass over her, which, if she stayed still it would have done and she would be at home now, enjoying a Saturday morning.  But she scrambled to the edge of the platform instead and was crushed.  For a gym bag that had somehow fallen out of her hands and onto the tracks.

This is a stark reminder of some of my personal safety rules.

Never run for transit.  I don’t take transit here in London but that rule also covers running to beat walk/don’t walk lights or any other kind of running on a surface that vehicles use.  I’ll be the one on the curb waiting for the “ok” light to come around again while others skitter across the street.  I don’t care.  It’s, what, two or three minutes? I always have that to spare.

If someone demands one of my possessions, hand it over.  I’ve never actually been robbed. I had my purse picked once long ago and was relieved of the burden of my wallet but no one has ever looked me in the eye and told me they want my stuff.   Well, not an actual criminal, anyway. And as hard as it would be to ignore my sense of justice and my gift of gab to want to talk them out of it, I really don’t want to be stabbed or punched so, hey, enjoy the Miche bag dude but you only get one removable cover!

Help other people be safe.  I happened upon a blind woman with a seeing eye dog last week who was, literally, walking in circles on a busy streetcorner on a particularly blustery and snowy afternoon. She and her dog both had clumps of ice on them.  A few people hurried past them so I thought maybe I was imagining her distress but I asked if she needed help and it turns out she did.  She had become disoriented and said she needed a “time out”.  So I walked them to the Y where they were going to sit in the warmth for a while and just rest.  Long ago I drove a lost little boy home in Hamilton after which my family and friends yelled at me for allowing him to get into my vehicle.  The kid was crying and scared, all alone on a streetcorner.  Yeah, it wouldn’t be wise for him to get into just anyone’s car but he got into mine and I’m okay.  He knew what his house looked like and he knew he wasn’t too far but he couldn’t figure out how to get there.  So we went street by street until he lit up like a Christmas tree at the sight of home.  I talked to his Mom and gave her a mini-lecture about letting him get away. I still stand by my decision to give the toddler a ride!

We have to look out for each other and we have to protect ourselves.  No jumping on subway tracks.  No arguing with desperate criminals.  And change your smoke detector batteries when you spring the clocks forward tonight, y’hear?

2 thoughts on “Choose Life”

  1. Unfortunately, your general safety rules requires one key thing which is highly absent in society, common sense. Like you I have some general safety rules: if I’m approaching an intersection where the traffic is going in the direction I wish to cross, I treat it as a stale green from my days in the driving realm, and when I arrive at the intersection I wait another light cycle. If its to noisy and I can’t determine what the traffic is actually doing, I wait. Another practice which has confused many a friend, if I’m ready to cross the street, its safe to do so but I hear emergency vehicles heading in my direction, I take a few steps back from the corner and wait until the emergency vehicles have cleared the area. I just don’t want to risk being in the middle of a crossing as an emergency vehicle is trying to go through.

    As to the incident on the New York subway, here in Toronto our subway platforms have an overhang which you can bend under which will place you out of harms way of an oncoming train. There are also emergency power switches at the end of each platform by the blue light which can be used to turn the power to the 3RD rail off or you could stand up on the carrier between the two tracks which has the support beams and be out of the way. This is just to say, that each subway is different and you need to know the safety features of your environment.

    1. Allan, I didn’t know that about Toronto’s subway system. Still, I can’t think of anything except saving the life of someone else that would convince me to jump onto the tracks. Goodbye cell phone! So long sandwich! But I suspect this woman might have been having a bad day and operated on instinct to hang on to her possessions. It is New York City, after all.

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