The tall young man ran up the platform in measured galloping strides. He stood patiently by the train driver’s window. The driver pushed down his window.
“I’m covered in spit”, he said in excited tones.
The driver looked bemused. “Can’t help you there, mate.” He said.
“There’s a ne’er do well on the train”, said the lad. “He’s clearly not well and has coughed all over me. Look at the state of me.”
The train driver leaned out of the window and carefully looked him up and down. The lad was wearing Jeans and a T shirt that looked like they had been ironed by his Mam. A perfect ensemble but splattered in a foreign substance.
“Can’t help you there, mate” the train driver said again, this time adding, “It’s not a crime to be unwell on a train. Tell him to go to the hospital. We’ll be at the Haymarket in three stops and four minutes, quicker if you let me get on. And get his details so you can bill him for your dry cleaning”.
“That’s not helping, I doubt he has a bank account, he’s obviously homeless. Can you radio for help?” the lad said with increasing exasperation.
“Like I said, it’s not a crime. But it will be if you delay this train any more”. “£200 fine for unnecessary delays” he said as he sat back in his seat”.
“Outrageous”, the lad says as he tries the flamboyant gesture of spinning on the rubber heels of his new trainers. He strides back along the platform. He gives another young man a cursory nod and shrug of his shoulders. The man watches him pass then withdraws his foot that has been holding open the door for his new-found friend.
He looks surprised. Now he is left with the tramp, the tut –tutting of the other passengers and the embarrassment of helping someone who has failed in his heroic mission. The train hurries away and the dirty young man enters the station and pushes the help button.
“Customer Services, can I help you” says a posh Geordie voice somewhere in headquarters.
“I’m covered in spit said the young lad”.
There is a pause and the accent thickens in the reply. “Can’t help you there, mate”.