Monday 8 June 2015

The different faces of presumption

Rushing down the escalators he managed to hop on the train before the doors shut. Quickly glancing across the carriage, he knew that he would have to stand for the rest of the journey.
Deciding to get comfortable, he leaned against the see through panel on the side of the seats, whilst placing his headphones on; drowning out the clanking sound from the tracks.

As the train approached the next stop, he remembered exactly why he hated the underground during rush hour, as what looked like a sea of people were seconds away from boarding.

He allowed the multitude to squeeze past him; packing into the carriage like a bunch of sardines, and the whiff that followed didn’t smell far off from fishy either.

As the train rather bumpily took off again, he accidentally fell onto a woman who was standing directly in front of him. Promptly getting his balance back, he immediately apologised as he noticed the distinct distaste in her face.

Another five minutes into the journey, the woman reached into her handbag as she prepared to exit the train. Her non-stop rustling soon turned into sheer panic, as she realised that she couldn’t find her purse.
Without a second thought, she glanced at him straight in the eyes saying, “I know you took it”.

Oblivious to what she may have been looking for and what he was meant to have taken, he gently replied, “Lady I don’t know what you are talking about, and I definitely didn’t take anything”.

Starting to raise her voice, she angrily muttered, “no one else could have taken my purse. I had it before I got on this train and now its gone, so you explain that to me”!

Getting a little agitated, he began to realise what was going on and politely requested that she did not raise her voice at him, further stating; “your accusation is ridiculous, because you have no proof, yet you’re claiming I’m a thief. There are at least two other people standing right next to you, yet you're pointing the finger at me?”

The train had now stopped at the next station, and a few passengers boarding and exiting brushed passed them as the quibble continued.

Insistently and intentionally she continued to yell alerting the rest of the carriage as to what was happening.
“I’m not a fool. I know your type, you did not ‘accidentally’ bump into me earlier, it was all part of your little scheme to slither your hands into my bag. With people like you around, we will never be safe. Ever!”

He abruptly retaliated with ‘what exactly are you implying? ...You know what don’t even answer that. I haven't got the energy for your reply; besides I’m getting off at the next stop so I won’t have to deal with this any longer.”

“Oh…how convenient!" she said, "this guy has just stolen my purse, and now he’s going to walk right off this train, scott free. Brilliant!
If only you worked for your money, then you might understand the value of it and realise that you just can’t go around taking from others.”

Tutting with disgust he rhetorically replied, “I don’t understand the value of money hey? You think you have the right to talk to me about the value of money or working hard, when you probably have no idea what that is yourself.
You look like the type of person who just sits at home, with not a care in the world, living off the more than generous handouts from your rich husband.
Without having to lift a finger, you’ve probably got it all, the fancy house and nice cars..., yet you want to lecture me on understanding the value of money?”

Responding in a more mellow tone she said, “How can you make such an assumption? I’ll have you know that I work very hard to put food on the table and make sure that my children still get the best in life, regardless of the fact that they no longer have a dad.”

“Erm, the same way you’re assuming I took your purse” he retorted, as he placed his headphones back on.
He noticed the glares the other passengers were now giving him, but turning his back to them, he faced the door as he prepared to get off.

Once he was off the train, she stuck her head out the door hollering various profanities and screaming “you will not get away with this, if not for the fact that I might get stabbed, you definitely would not have gotten off this train.”

Feeling rather drained and somewhat embarrassed, he briskly walked away, and completely ignored her.

Later on that evening…

Rushing to get her phone before the call cut out, the woman greeted “hello Emily speaking”.
“Hi Emily, this is Ian from Transport for London. You left your purse at the ticket window in Liverpool street station earlier today. Another customer noticed it lying on the side and handed it in to us.”

Almost frozen in her tracks, the only thought permeating her mind was the fact that based on her preconceived assumption; she acted maliciously towards a completely innocent man.

“Hello, hello, Emily are you still there?” called Ian.

“Yes sorry, I’m still here. I could have sworn I put my purse back in my bag; I have never been this careless in my life. I will surely head back to the station right away.
Thank you Ian”.

Pondering on how despicable her behaviour had been, She knew it was too late to make amends, as she would probably never see that young man again. She knew her assumption might not only negatively affect him, but it further fuelled the prejudices that were already rife in society.

This experience taught her a valuable lesson, a lesson where she would always take the time to think about the other possibilities a situation may pose. A lesson where she would not react on her assumptions; as there are always two sides to a story.
In doing so, she would defy the odds and remain confident in knowing that regardless of the facts, she is now going to remain true to what is right.

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