29th October 2021

The return to the physical workplace has meant a return to the commute, and this is not without its frustrations, as the rail company struggles with Covid-related personnel shortages and the resulting cancelled and / or over-crowded trains and grumpy passengers. In my own case, the commute is further enlivened by a rather fraught dog, who occasionally treats our fellow passengers to almost operatic expressions of her despair at being back in this moving metal box. Mercifully for all of us, it’s only a fifteen-minute journey, and a few treats work wonders.

But Effi is at least genuinely expressing how she feels (indeed, she often seems to ‘speak’ for our fellow commuters too!). And her lack of inhibitions has frequently resulted in lovely conversations with what were complete strangers, who go on to become people we chat to on a regular basis. There are also several members of train staff whose official function I completely forget as they stop to make a fuss of my dog, only after a few moments remembering that what they really need to do is check my ticket. In an environment full of stressed-looking passengers, often absorbed in their newspapers or at work on their laptops, where the main means of communication is automated tannoy announcements, these moments of shared humanity (and caninity!), of genuine warmth and communication, feel very precious. So let’s take a moment today to appreciate all those who go beyond their mundane official functions to communicate from one human being to another and bring a little joy in the process. And let’s be those people if we get the chance!

Debbie Pinfold