Tag Archives: captain bringdown

If you are relegated to last place in every category are you bothered enough to struggle out?

I don’t think you have to worry about being in last place. Chances are you aren’t going to make it to first place no matter how hard you struggle, my friend. And there is no point in struggling to be in second-to-last place. There is no glory there either. And people know how hard it is going from last to first. So if you are in last place, there is no disappointment or pressure from anyone if you give up the race. You weren’t even close to winning anyway.

It’s the middle that sucks. The average. The mediocre. If you know that you are good enough to give it a try (whatever “it” might be), but not good enough that you will ever be the best at it (or even very good)… what then? Do you keep at it or do you give up? And why does it feel so much worse to give up from the middle than it does from the bottom?

That’s my thing. I’m average. Somewhere right in the overlooked middle of the group. Looks? Average. Smarts? Average. SkillZ? Mad. Nah… just joking. Also average.

I’ve actually wished that I could have the part of my brain that is so fucking self-aware lobotimised. If only I wasn’t aware of my own mediocrity, I think I could be happy with not being better than I am. Instead I get to be tortured by my own brain that somehow, for some reason, I will never get to be good enough because I won’t ever be in that top percentile when it comes to anything. No matter how hard I struggle. So should I struggle? Or should I find peace in being lost in the crowd?

>Rage and Hope

>Today I decided I wanted to go for a float and a massage, to work out some of the week and especially to work out the knots of the night before. I managed to book an appointment and left work a wee bit early to head over to Floatworks. The float was amazing – I actually slept in the tank of water and really relaxed. The massage was painful, but good painful. I feel like he really worked out some of the stress and tension that I was carrying around. Which I needed.

So I’m walking blissfully out of Floatworks towards London Bridge station, enjoying how relaxed I’m feeling and thinking about looking for my passport so I can get some cash out tomorrow (my bank card went AWOL and needs replacing). Not much else, really.  And then I heard a noise that was a little out of the ordinary, but not hugely. Like someone had hit the brakes, hard.

That is what that noise was. Someone had hit the brakes. Hard.

I’ve seen people get hit by cars before. This didn’t sound like that; when I turned to look – it didn’t look like that.

There was a cab – a licenced blackcab. Stopped. And, to be honest, what looked like a large garbage bag now resting mostly under the front bumper. The cab was not moving.  The bag wasn’t moving. People had turned to look, probably because of the sound of the brakes, but no one was moving towards the cab. It was like everything was perfectly frozen.

And then the dark shape under the front bumper of the cab moved.

As I said – it didn’t sound or look like a person had been hit initially when I turned to look. It sounded more like a near-miss. But obviously someone had. The cab was still not moving. No one (not the driver, not the passengers) was getting out of the vehicle. But the people on the pavement (and from the bus that was now stopped behind the cab) were finally starting to move.

I’m going to confess something at this point that I’m not entirely proud of. At that moment, even though at this point I knew that someone was down on the ground, possibly very hurt, and that I had witnessed (at least in part) what had happened; part of me just wanted to keep walking. To keep walking so that I could get home. To walk away and pretend I had saw nothing so that the rest of my evening would not be ruined. So I could get home early. So I could stay relaxed, go home and get the sleep I so desperately need right now.  And I’m not proud of that. I even rationalised walking away in such a way that it wasn’t until later when I could reflect that I even realised how much I had been rationalising. As I stood there, I was thinking: “There are lots of other people here, and they aren’t making emergency type movements… I’m sure it isn’t as bad as it looks.”   That was the kind of thinking I was doing without even realising what I was thinking. Self-preservation at it’s finest hour: “Get me out of here, and here are a few good reasons why I can go.” Thanks, brain.

But then I saw the most horrific thing. And stayed.

The cab driver (and his passengers) still hadn’t left the cab. But then, and I still can’t believe I saw this, that son of a bitch reversed the cab, drove around the body, and continued to the station doors.

He reversed, drove around the body, and kept going.

That’s when I decided to involve myself. Because that is not right. That’s just not right. Someone was hurt – whether badly or not was yet to be decided. But that driver had done wrong, and wasn’t owning up to it. He wasn’t taking responsibility. He wasn’t going to do anything about it. It was making my insides churn. It still is. What a horrible, horrible man.

I followed the cab, and took a couple of pictures of the licence plates. I wasn’t the only one. This may be the only time I’m honestly grateful for smartphones, for cameraphones. It allows people to record what is happening to ensure human beings don’t get away with being dreadful to other human beings.

Another girl was doing the same as I was. She also tried to get pictures of the driver, which wasn’t making him happy at all. And I stood with her when she was explaining why she was doing it – mainly that we had seen him drag a body under his car, then reverse and drive around it – and that piece of shit denied that anything had happened.

He had reversed, drove around the body, and was now denying that anything had happened.

Here’s the rub: the poor soul that was now lying bleeding and broken in the street had been clearly living hard and recently drinking heavily. People who had actually seen what had happened said that the guy had either passed out in the road, tripped and fell, or lay down in front of that car.

So the driver probably saw him very, very late – explaining the hard braking. And it is entirely possible that the man lay down in front of the car, wanting to be hit. Wanting a warm place to sleep – be it eternally or just for the night in the A&E. It is possible. And I think had the cabbie reacted differently, the sympathies of the witnesses would not have been just with the victim, but for the driver as well. He did brake. He tried to stop and it is possible that he just couldn’t in time. Which would be horrifying – imagine if that was you driving and couldn’t stop in time. You’d have nightmares forever about that.

But you can’t sympathise with someone who is cold enough to reverse and drive around the person they just hit. There is no excuse for that. I’m still shaking my head about it. I cannot believe that driver. Or his fucking passengers. Had I been in that cab, I would have been out of the car to see what had happened in a heartbeat. Those people got their luggage out and caught their fucking train. Everyone in that cab just puts me into a blind rage about mankind.

But I do also have hope. I have hope in the half dozen people who acted. Who took pictures. Who confronted the cab driver. Who comforted the man in the street. Who called emergency services and grabbed the police. Who willingly stuck around and gave their names and their statements to the police.

And I have hope again in myself. Because although I hesitated initially, I was one of those people in the end.

>Commuting

>It’s no news that I hate commuting. I realise now just how lucky I’ve been in the past when it has come to the whole commuting… thing.

In Vancouver, I lived just a seven minute walk to the office (nine on the way back, it was uphill home).  In Korea, the furthest I lived from the school was at most a ten minute walk (and I eventually moved even closer – it took longer to take the elevator up six stories than it did for me to walk to the school).  Even in London, although I have had to go through commuting hell a few times, I’ve also been lucky enough to live within walking distance to work twice now (helps that I’ve moved five times and changed jobs four times).

I’m hard pressed to say what the worst commute was.  From Blackheath (Greenwich) to Fulham was not fun. Hackney to Richmond was not fun. The Late Bus of Evilness was not fun (especially once school was back in session).

My current commute is middling to fair. I can take the dreaded District Line (why does it crawl along like that!) from Southfields to Tower Hill. At least there are no changes. Or I can take the overground from Earlsfield to Waterloo, then the Jubilee Line from Waterloo to London Bridge. That second option is pretty fast and I actually walk more than I train (which is cool).

Usually the train is fine. Today I did see a woman pick something out of her ear and then stick that same finger in her mouth. Which may be one of the more disgusting things I’ve ever seen on the train. And I usually don’t get a seat and the train is really cramped from Earlsfield to Clapham Junction… but the journey is all of five minutes so I don’t mind.

Something happened on the trip today that got me thinking a bit. I mean, other than the disgusting woman.  We were delayed rolling into London Bridge,  due to “a problem at the London Bridge station”.  Usually these sorts of delays get my dander up (especially if I’m running late – and today I was running late) but the calm, smooth voice of the driver actually helped me relax. He sounded vaguely like James Earl Jones and I kept expecting him to add “babies” to the end of his announcements.  So I was fairly relaxed about the situation but usually I would have been in a wee knot about running late. No one likes being trapped in the underground.

You never know what “a problem” at the station could be. I’ve heard announcements about left luggage, idiots effing around with the emergency button, heart attacks, leaves on the tracks, bodies on the tracks, signal failure, etc, etc.  And you know the scary part?  None of those register any differently for me as a commuter. One would think that as a fellow human being I would be more understanding about a heart attack than a signal failure, but as a commuter I can’t believe anyone would be so inconsiderate as to have a heart attack on the train and mess up my journey.

But today I saw “the problem” at London Bridge station.  Someone was down.  Lying on the station floor wrapped in a blanket with medics and staff trying to shield her body from those going by. Someone was shining a light in her eyes, looking for a response.

It wasn’t her response I saw… it was the response of the commuters around her.  Some were openly gawking and others, like me, were having a look but continuing on, trying not to stare. I was concerned for her, but knew I couldn’t help and didn’t want to turn into an accident vulture.  I try to not rubberneck when there’s an accident on the motorway either.

But the majority of people were completely oblivious. They didn’t even look. They just powerwalked their way past the prone woman and the medics surrounding her and pushed their way up the escalators. They never noticed.

Which got me thinking.

It’s hard here, sometimes. In London. You end up lost in a sea of humanity that you rub up against but rarely actually touch. Disconnected, disjointed and often discontent, people have trouble reaching out to others. A side effect of having no personal space when you commute; you push people away as much as you can to find room to breathe.

I hope that woman is alright. I hope that if something like that happens to me, someone will reach out. I hope I don’t forget to reach out to others. To connect. To stay connected. To never forget that behind each person on my commute is a story I can’t even begin to construct. I hope to remain human in a city that erodes humanity.

>Never enough

>If I go one inch, I’m expected to go two. If I go two, inevitably someone will ask why I didn’t go four. If I came prepared with a rope when no one had ever had a rope before; I’d be expected to be a motherfucking cowboy.

And so it goes.

This seems to be the story of my entire life. No matter what I’m doing; it isn’t enough.

It can’t ever be enough. I can’t ever be enough.