Il Diario di Tinton

{2011-03-24}   Tension on the Train

Today i took a 1st class regional train from Genoa to Milan. The ticket inspector was a meticulous one: as she eneterd the first class wagon, she always announced “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a 1st class cart!” (in italy, the difference between 1st and 2nd class is not as obvious, although its rare somebody actually gets confused). This gave  everyone who didn’t have a first class ticket the chance to leave without the embarrassment.

After doing her job, eventually she sat on the armrest of a few chairs in front of the one i was sitting in, and started chatting with three passengers. There were 3 of them, and started talking about people trying toictravel in first class with a second class ticket for a while. a few minutes before the problematic passenger arrived.They started

At some point, a woman sat next to me. She didn’t have a first class ticket. She had a free pass, probably for disabled, which permits traveling in second class only. When the ticket arrived, she asked her if she could stay in first class for once, because she wasn’t feeling well. The ticket inspector had to do her job and invited her to find a spot in second class, advising where there were more free places. So the passenger tried to go, but came back immediately to her old spot in first class.

This is when hell broke loose. The passenger expressed her pain by giving the inspector fault of not being sensitive enough to help people, whereas the inspector had eventually decided to let her sit there, w/o charging extra. However, the inspector started to talk behind the passengers back, with a group of passengers who were sitting in front of me.

Now, here are some interesting twists to the story: the problematic passenger said she had just done chemo, and she was feeling noxious. As she flipped out, she was very energetic in expressing her anger. One of the ladies sitting in front of me noticed this, and was very upset: she brought up how her father had just passed away of cancer and how he was devastated after each chemo session. She therefore angrily expressed disbelief, implying the troublesome woman was probably lying about her chemo session.

The problematic woman replied to this by asking the her to keep her nose out of other people’s business [… poor thing. So lost…]

The woman with the lost father was crying. She left the cart, she couldn’t take it any longer. She took it personally too, poor thing. I feel sorry for her too.

Now the second of the three who were in front of me, a train staff out of service, intervened, angrily of course.

At this point, i can’t take it any more, i have to intervene. Everyone is angry at everyone else. Everyone begging for acknowledgment, and nobody offering it.

I offer to pay the difference for the woman. The woman really liked this act. She felt like somebody did care about her. I start asking the woman how she feels, if she had a bad day, if she felt that way before, trying to connect with her, with what had made her loose it. Soon she stands up, confused, says something like “maybe i overreacted, i don’t know… ” and leaves. Did she move to the second class wagon? Did she get off the train? Wherever she went, the story continues…

Now i start talking with the two plus one in front of me: a woman who has remained silent up until now, the train inspector out of service and the young woman train inspector in service. The out of service inspector tells me how the move i have done, to offer to pay for the woman, was not a good move, trying to convince me with arguments which i can’t really remember, they didn’t make much sense to me. Later in the conversation he admitted the real reason: it’s because by doing so, he felt offended. He took it as if i had said “Here, i will help her out, not like those selfish bastards over there!” Whereas the point i was trying to make with the act was more like “we are all getting stressed here. If we settle this with paying for the extra ticket, will we all be happy? If its only about a silly ticket, it’s not worth a few Euros to get stressed out like this. Here, i’ll be the hero, and if anyone else want’s to pitch, go ahead. Let’s just get this over with, by investing a few bucks.” Besides the offer i through was actually working, because the woman was coming back saying she would have paid the difference if that is what was necessary.

Anyway, i greatly apologized, once i realized the man got offended, expressing it was not the intention of the statement.

Then i also tried to explain that, although the woman was “wrong” (i was hoping that, by using that word, i would connect more with them, even though it wasn’t my first choice), she also was actually expressing her own weaknesses and problems with her angry scene. I quickly realized, though, that they thought i was on her side (which i was), and that therefore i could not be on their side (which i was too!). I guess the concept of having to be on one side or the other, either right or wrong, either left or right, either liberal or conservative, is really engrained in most people’s mind. One simply can’t be both! Why not? Every side has it’s problems and its strengths, right? So let’s just recognize them objectively.

The problematic woman had a rough time in the past and this situation triggered her to flip out. She doesn’t know how to handle and deal with her emotions, and so she exploded. Needless to say, she was in no position to be able to hear, understand or even try to connect with the ticket inspector, or anyone trying to make a point without before trying to understand her point.

The man, in a similar way, also felt stepped on by me, and by the woman. He was able to control his emotions better, however he still felt misunderstood by me. I wasn’t able to be very serene with the man, and understand his side until later, so we left with some tension. I was very tense, very unstable, as a reaction to the tension the woman was throwing out at as. So i must say, i reacted pretty well, given the tension.

The ticket inspector, she too had her point. However she simply could not see that what the woman was saying or yelling had nothing to do with her, so she got affected too, and was not able to give her share of understanding or effort to connect.

All this made me realize how ignorant we all are. What do i mean by this? I mean that i could clearly see how this situation could have been peacefully resolved, yet the actors involved had no clue there could have been another way of dealing with this situation. If we would have received as part of our education, instructions on how to connect with others, how to listen, how to go beyond the yelling, the situation would have melted instantly.

Well, nobody would have flipped out in the first place, you might argue. Sure, in the ideal world. However, there is always a moment when we loose it, even if we know how to deal with our emotions, even if we know how to connect with others. Even if we have developed a very balanced mind. At some point, unless we are fully liberated, we flip out. And in these situations, if we are surrounded by fellow citizens who have received a more complete education, (in terms of sensations, emotions, how nature really works and how to keep growing and live happily in this life) then the flipping out is immediately neutralized by compassion and love, by others understanding that the person flipping out isn’t just a stupid, selfish, bastard, it is a human being, like us, who, like we have other times, has lost control over their sensations/emotions. And they need help. They are crying out for understanding, for somebody that acknowledges their point. As soon as that acknowledgment is there, a connection starts, the person starts to come back to senses and realizes what she or he is doing, often braking down in tears.

Thank you, universe, for haven given me the chance to live this experience! I ask you to put me in more such experiences, in the degree as i am ready to handle them: please put me in similar situations only if i am in a condition to learn and to leave a productive memory with the people around me in that moment. Please make these experiences contribute towards all of our liberation from misery, even if this means going through pain.


Lina Divina says:

On the good path, bro…
god bless u

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