Trouble on the line
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
It was as I stepped into the carriage of a late night Dart that I first noticed the man, situated as he was in the open space at the doors.
I sat down in a nearby seat and the man kept popping into my line of vision, as my eyes lazily perused my surroundings. Having spent 26 minutes sitting on a metal chair in a cold train station, I was drawn to a cup from which he was sipping what appeared to be tea or coffee but, as events unfurled, might very well have been something else.
Any time our eyes met, I thought I glimpsed a flash of anger but told myself I was imagining it.
After a while the man started to shout a little bit. As he didnt seem to be in pain I paid no attention to him, instead giving him some space and thinking that perhaps alcohol consumption may be the cause of his outburst.
A very kind and less cynical gentleman decided otherwise and approached the man asking if he needed any help. He narrowly missed being punched in the head, twice, for his kind actions.
He quickly retreated to his nearby seat only to be followed by the man, who was now rudely gesticulating to all and sundry and shouting loudly as he went.
It was quite frightening. The kind man's female traveling companion certainly thought so, as she scurried to the next seat where there was another male passenger.
The angry man's shouting continued for quite some time. From my seat I furtively looked at the doors for the red cord that would gain the drivers attention, if we needed to. However that may also leave us stranded mid-station with Angry Man, while the train shuddered to a stop. It was therefore not a viable option, notwithstanding the fact that, as I just found out, the red alert cord on Dart trains no longer exists.
We were stuck with Angry Man it seemed.
He continued his verbal assault on the couple and anyone in their vicinity, virtually trapping them where they sat. As he awkwardly moved forward to where the woman had moved to, she made good her escape by climbing over the seat to get back to her partner. They both then ran down to the other end of the train.
This was not good.
Angry Man eventually followed them, still gesticulating, shouting and daring anyone he passed to lock eyes with him. We averted our eyes to the window, the blackness of Dublin as it whizzed past us being distinctly more preferable to the blackness of Angry Man's eyes.
This was definitely not good.
At the next station the couple jumped off the train and ran quickly ran down to the next carriage before the train moved off again. A move I was afraid to take in case I didn't make it on time. I got increasingly nervous as more people disembarked at each stop. Thankfully others boarded, including two young men who ironically took the seats of the earlier escapees.
Angry Man had calmed some and had made his way back to his starting position but began shouting aggressively again.
We then found ourselves in a déjà vu moment as one of the young men kindly got up and approached Angry Man. I tried to connect eyes with him, whilst simultaneously shaking my head and silently screaming Nooooo .... Don't do it , in my mind. The connection was unfortunately missed and Young Man's similar attempt to Kind Man's before him, was met with an almost similar response.Young Man very quickly retreated and surprisingly wasn't followed by Angry Man!
We expelled silent sighs of relief.. well, I imagine I wasn't the only one to do so.
Angry Man took himself grumpily down the other end of the carriage and was again silent for a time while we sat on tenterhooks. He remained silent until the only man left from the first debacle was disembarking and decided not to take his leave via the doors closest to him. Oh no, he instead strode confidently through to Angry Man's spot and sat near him. This I know 'cos I stole a sneaky glance, retracting my head double quick at Angry Man's ferocious glance back at me. Oh, crap.....
By the renewed shouting that ensued, we gathered that departing man had some departing words with Angry Man before he subsequently disembarked..
Now, I didn't blame him for saying something as Angry Man's behaviour, in whatever condition he was in, drunk or not, had become totally unacceptable . But did he have to chose when he has getting off the train to do so? His actions left us, the remaining passengers, to deal with any resulting aftermath!
My mind subsequently sped down the tracks of endless possibilities. Would his attacks get more dangerous? Would someone challenge him? Would a knife get pulled? And why the hell doesn't some departing passenger tell someone?
But there was no-one tell, the stations being closed and the driver's compartment being too far away from our carriage.
As I myself was disembarking I noticed that the replacement for the red cord alert system is an intercom
linked to the train driver. We could have used that but heaven knows how Angry Man would have reacted to that.
I got off at my stop and hoped everyone would be ok for the remainder of the short journey. I also wondered what, if anything, we should have done differently.
What would you do if you were in this situation?
And would you change your mind if I told you that Angry Man was quite disabled and in a motorised wheelchair?
Note: I sincerely apologise if anyone is offended by this piece. I have witnessed a number of obnoxious, aggressive, drunk and rude behaviours on the Dart over the years and usually only report if the situation appears to be escalating beyond reason. This is the first I've witnessed at night and it shocked me. I have since learned that the individual concerned is known for his aggressive behaviour. I can assume, therefore, that he has come to the attention of Irish Rail as they must assist him on and off at stations.