Yesterday I was on a train coming home from some business in London.
I had walked all the way to the front of the train in order to find a seat with a table in order to do some work on the laptop.
At East Croydon, a man got on the train and sat diagonally across from me on the other side of the aisle. Seconds after he had sat down opposite someone else with a table between them, he began making loud groaning noises that one usually associates with a person who has severe learning difficulties or (and I hate this term) is mentally challenged.
I looked across to see what was happening and pretty soon, the man in question was sliding across the double seat and then shaking violently.
That was when I realised he was suffering an epileptic fit.
It was the first time I had witnessed something like this and the truth is, I didn’t know what to do about it, except pray…very quietly.
Thankfully, the man sitting opposite leapt into action and was trying to steady the man who was fitting. Soon after that, another man arrived from the next carriage and told everyone to leave him to “fit it out” as this is what you are supposed to do even though it goes against your instincts.
How did he know this?
His sister-in-law suffers from epilepsy.
The man who had been sitting opposite also had a relative who suffers from epilepsy.
The train pulled into Gatwick airport and within a reasonable amount of time, an ambulance was on its way. Southern Railway staff were excellent (not something you read often these days given the eternal nature of the industrial disputes) and they lifted him on to a wheelchair and we resumed our journey.
As I pondered what I had witnessed and we had all offered our “Well done mate!” compliments to the two men who knew what to do in the midst of our own mild shock and ignorance, I realised something that is perhaps worth taking away from this tale.
What suffering have you been involved in, either directly or indirectly?
How might you be able to use that experience for the benefit of others?
The truth is, all of us have suffered in one small or sometimes large way and if we choose to, it can equip us to be of service to others, whenever the opportunity arises.
It’s just not always as obvious as knowing what to do when someone else is suffering an epileptic fit.