Suspending Judgement by Nafisa Shehu

Sometimes it can be a mystery as to why things happen the way they do. Two Saturdays ago, setting off far too early to meet up with my colleagues for a Life Coach London Away weekend, I found myself at the bus stop wondering why I had not spent a little longer in bed. 

The bus came on time for a change which was a joy as it was pouring with 
rain. As soon as the doors opened wailing could be heard coming from inside the bus. What on earth could be going on. There was a dischevelled middle aged looking woman bawling at the top of her voice in one of the first seats. I briefly wondered what terrible tragedy could have befallen her but since people were not clustered around ministering to her, I surmised, mental health problem and wondered about keeping my distance. Nevertheless I sat behind her. 

Another woman who boarded just before me sat across from her and asked her what was wrong. She sobbed! “The train’s not running. I got to get the bus! I can’t meet my sister now. I really wanted to meet my sister, now I can’t.” So, not mental health but learning difficulties, I surmised. Someone sat next to the woman who was talking to the still wailling woman so I took over, work skills kicking in, patiently reassuring her that she was on the right bus to the mainline station and yes she had enough time to get to the London station as she was meeting her sister at 12 and it was only 10 o’clock. As she repeated the same questions, “what time is it?” As she fished a watch out of her pocket and waved it at me twice, “Is this bus going to the station?” “Are we there yet?” “Is it my fault the train isn’t running?” – No it isn’t- “It’s not my fault is it?” I decided she was like a 6 or 7 year old and felt so moved by her vulnerability I reassured her that I would take her to the station. I was headed there anyway but I definitely couldn’t rush off and leave her to her own devices.

At the stop I let her ring the bell and took her hand to help her off the bus as she requested and held her hand to cross the road as requested, since she was scared of buses having been hit by one! It was cold and wet so I said she should button her coat. She gave me her handbag so she could button the coat then asked me to button it for her. She chatted about how pleased she was to be living in a flat on her own rather than in a home because they treated her like a child and made her go to bed at 10 but she can now go to bed when she likes. She goes to the pub for her meals because the microwave caught fire. 

I took her to the guard at the entrance to the platforms but he was talking to someone. I told her we had to wait and she added “because we mustn’t interrupt – why?” The guard directed her to the platform for the London station and she set off without a backward glance. 

So many questions! 

#rightplacerighttime #compassion #wellbeingofvulnerableperson

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