I have done an unwise thing. On a day when it was only 10 degrees, Ms A. showed up at the station barefoot looking very cold and sad after being discharged from hospital. She burst into tears because she claimed not to have the fare back to her home in the country and even though I didn’t believe her, I was overwhelmed by pity and bought her a hot chocolate. Why unwise?
Well A. is a serial and serious pest who shows up at stations all over the system and threatens to jump under the trains. You have to take these threats seriously the way you have to take bomb threats seriously so there’s always the police and the pso’s and the ambulance and hospital. Lots of drama.
She seemed pretty ok that day though so maybe they’d given her something in the hospital to calm her down. In the end after a cigarette (somehow broke people always have money for cigarettes, don’t they?) she very docilely got on the train to go to Traveller’s Aid at one of the central stations. Traveller’s Aid lend people small sums of money for tickets home.
Later when the police came by on patrol, I told them I’d seen A. and where she’d gone and they went off to check on what she was up to. As it happened this was the patrol that had arrested her at our station the previous night for threatening to jump under a train.
Well I can only hope that she prefers negative attention and that my giving her a hot chocolate and talking to her nicely will not have the same effect as giving food to a stray cat. It’s all very well to complement me for being charitable but really she’s not someone who should be encouraged to hang around at a station. I fear my Station Master will have cause to curse me.