Like Moses attracted to the burning bush, this piqued my interest. So I looked more intently at the strange sight. Apparently it was an old woman who was bent over so much I couldn’t see her head from the back. I wondered how she coped with life.
As I observed, I saw that she struggled to look up to the destination board. She kept going to the back hoping it would be easier to see. I knew she needed help, so I walked towards her. She tried to signal for help from 2 girls that passed her but they looked at her and went their way. She was saying, ‘no I’m not begging you for money’ when I approached.
"Where are you going to?", I asked.
"Oh thank you very much", she said, "I’m going to Stoke. Can I use my freedom bus pass here?"
"No. It works on buses", I answered though not knowing really what freedom bus pass meant, "You may have to buy a train ticket".
"How much is it?"
"I don’t know. We’ll have to ask the authorities".
"How long is it by bus?"
So I brought out my phone to ask google. But first I typed, ‘can I use my freedom bus pass on trains?’ and I was surprised to learn you could use it on buses, trams, trains and underground. It is a free travel pass for the disabled and elderly.
I quickly chipped in, "you can actually use your pass on trains".
"But I will rather take a bus for sight seeing".
So I checked distance between King’s cross and Stoke-on-Trent (I assumed that was what she meant by Stoke) by bus. I also checked the distance by train.
"It is 5hrs by bus and you have to change several buses. It is easier to go by train but you have to go from Euston station".
"5hrs?". She was surprised.
"I’ve gone there by night bus and it was 2 hrs. I’m going to see my grand daughter. She works in a hospital there. Please take me to the bus stop".
"The one near McDonalds. I’ll take a bus to Whitechapel and from there I can get a bus to Stoke".
My train was about 12 mins away. I calculated leaving the station to guide her to a bus station and getting back on time to meet my train.
"Ok. Give me that". I took her hand luggage and walked in front of her while she followed. Shortly after, I looked back and saw her almost going to hit the wall headlong.
"No!" I shouted. "This way."
I needed to stay closer to her so she could see me to follow.
I worried how she was going to take several buses to Stoke on Trent on her own. When we got close to the bus stop she asked me to give her her luggage.
"Are you sure you know your way from here?"
"Yes, I will take bus 205".
I couldn’t see 205 written anywhere on the stop. But I was running against time to catch my train. So I gave her her hand luggage and said good luck.
On my way back I prayed to God to please help her.
When I got into my train I worried if I shouldn’t have done more for her. She clearly was going to struggle. How would she cross the road? How would she get to Stoke-on-Trent on her own? She didn’t even have a map with her. I wonder if anyone would even help a black old hunched up woman. They might think she was a beggar. Did I just miss an opportunity to attend to angels as the Bible says?
Should I get off the train which was to leave in 1 min to go find her and make sure she gets on the Euston train going directly to Stoke-on-Trent? I will have to forfeit the appointment I’m running to meet in King’s Lynn. I might have to buy another train ticket. Will I find her there? Am I even sure it is Stoke-on-Trent she meant? Is there another place called Stoke? I googled to check and couldn’t find.
While pondering these, the train began to move. Opportunity lost.
I could only pray God sends her help.
Radiant ~ November 2019
Photo credit - IG @bencantini