Strangers on a Train

From the vicarage

On a train journey recently, Mrs Vicarage announced that she would like a cup of tea. So, Yours Truly duly made his way to the On-Board Shop (that’s what the Buffet Car is called now) in search of refreshments.

Arriving at the On-Board Shop, I stood at the counter and expected to be greeted with the usual “Can I help you?” The attendant, however, was chewing the end of a pen and puzzling over a form that she was trying to fill in. Looking up, she waved her pen towards me and asked if I could help her!

She opened a flap on the machine behind her and pointed to something that appeared to contain coffee granules. She needed to order some of that - but she wasn’t quite sure which box to tick. We studied the form together, ticked what we thought might be the correct box, and agreed to attach a Post-It note to explain, just in case. Then she made tea.

Of course, it was flattering to think that I might have looked intelligent enough to be able to understand the form – but it made me think. It would have been easier for that attendant to have pretended to have known what she was doing and to have just ticked anything rather than ask a stranger for help. Not for nothing were Christians in medieval times taught that humility was one of the seven virtues. How often are we too proud to admit that we don’t know everything?

It may well be that, as you read this, that buffet car attendant is hard at work somewhere between London and the North. God bless her – not only is she honest, humble and conscientious, but she also makes a decent cup of tea…