I am sitting down at the Parliament Station at the moment after a late meeting at the office.
As I arrived, I looked up at the notice board which said the next train was coming in two minutes. It wasn’t my train, so I sat down to wait. The next moment, two young women came onto the platform at the other end shouting and screaming at each other. One then jumped off the platform onto the tracks and stood there shouting at her companion.
I was about half way down the platform, and looked up to see what all the commotion was about. I started towards them, as did a number of others, calling to her to get off the tracks because the train was coming. She wasn’t budging. No amount of urging was shifting her.
In desparation, one of the guys (“Matt”, his friend called him) jumped onto the tracks to try to drag her back to the edge of the platform where I and several other men were waiting to grab hold of her and hurl her up. But she put up an incredible struggle, including throwing herself down and hanging onto the rails. Matt appeared to be fairly strong and healthy, but he was having real difficulty even keeping a hold of her, and not making much progress.
All this happened within a minute or two. That train could not have been far off. That was when I started to ask myself: do I jump down and help him?
I didn’t. Nor did any of the other men there. We shouted encouragement to Matt, but we all stayed on the edge of the platform, ready to be of assistance, but not willing to put ourselves in danger like he was doing. Were we cowards? I felt like one.
In the end, Matt succeeded in getting the girl off the tracks about 20 seconds before the train sailed out of the tunnel up to the platform. The girls, still screaming at each other, ran off and, according to the station CCTV people, left the station.
We were all pretty shaken. One complication was that, as soon as the girl jumped on the tracks, someone had pressed the bright red button on the wall of the platform hoping to either stop the train or attract help from the authorities. It turned out to be the “fire” button, which resulted in the shut down of the entrance to the platforms up on ground level, and panic in the control room.
The Metro people arrived about two minutes after the girls had left the platform. Talking to one of the Metro ladies afterwards, she told me that the “right” button to push was the red one in the middle of the platform near where I had been sitting. This would have sent an alert immediately to the control room. I have made a note of that button, should I ever need it again in the future.
The firemen turned up about five minutes after that. The train was gone and most of those who were involved in the incident, so I was left to tell the story. I am still thinking to myself about what might have happened, if Matt had not been able to get the girl off the tracks in time. What would I have felt like?
Matt made the choice to jump in and get the girl off the tracks. He showed real courage. On the other hand, I made a choice not to jump in and help him. Was it the right choice? Or was I a coward?