An intellectually disabled man is bickering with his mother as they wait for the train.
“Take your coat off, you’re too hot,” she says.
He pouts. “No! Shut up!”
3 minutes before the train I turn and see him at the edge of the pit sitting down and putting his legs over the edge. Is he about to jump onto the tracks?
“No, no, no!” I scream and rush at him, panic jolting through my nerves. “Please stop!” I grab his hood, which comes off in my hands, and then his collar and hold on hard, shouting, “No No!”
He bursts into tears and rolls back on the platform.
Now I feel like a brute. He wails like a small child as I apologize and tell him I’m not mad as him. “Please don’t cry,” I beg in front of the whole crowded platform.
His mother comes over, picks him up and pats him. I tell her I’m sorry for making her son cry
“I was going to let him sit till the train comes and then get him up,” she said. “It works better that way. He’s always doing it. He never gets down on the tracks.”
I’m glad she knew what was going on. When I was in training, they warned us to mentally prepare ourselves in case we saw someone hit by a train someday. I honestly thought my turn had come.
As the train rolls in, I bring out some small gifts – a bottle of water and a zoo badge. I still feel like a complete heel.
His face is red and soggy from crying but he’s pleased with the badge and gulps down the water gratefully.
“There you WERE hot,” says his mother. “I told you to take your coat off.”
“No! Shut up,” he says.