Edward Burne-Jones 1898 The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon

Recently I spent a Saturday shift de-training people (which is not nearly as exciting as defenestrating people or even as exciting as training people)
You walk down the train carriages making sure everyone is out before the train turns around and goes back to the city. It’s a simple job that mostly involves waking up people who are sleeping or engrossed in their ipods.
The only sleeper I had, a young man in black and a cloud of alcohol fumes, just wouldn’t wake up.
I shook him calling” Mate! Mate! Wake up!” (the magical railway incantation to awaken sleepers – I wonder if it works on Sleeping Beauty and the King under the Mountain- see above) The train driver also tried. No Joy!
We shrugged and gave up.
“I hope he’s still alive,” I said feeling guilty. He had felt warm enough.
“I once heard of a dead guy who travelled round on the London Underground for three days before anyone noticed him,” said the driver cheerfully.
This gruesome story pricked my conscience and after I’d finished checking the train I went back and tried again, this time shaking harder and yelling “Mate! Mate!” louder.
After a while the man stirred, lifted his head and regarded me with bleary eyes. I told him the train was going back to town. He put his head down and went back to sleep.
But at least I’d made sure he was alive! Job done.

1 thought on “De-training”

  1. I still feel terrible about the night I got really sick on the train on my way home from a work function. I woke up on a dark train in Eltham, which only had the doors next to me open and a dark, closed up station, with no idea how I got there/what had happened apart from being covered in vomit. They’d thankfully left the station bathroom open so I could wash up before I went off to see if I could find a taxi back to Ivanhoe.
    I hadn’t actually drunk enough to be drunk-sick, my friends were so surprised when I told them what had happened!
    In that case it turned out to be a combination of an allergy to a wine additive and dehydration (it was a 37C day).

    The staff weren’t to know that – all they could know is that they had a passed out woman on their train who had clearly been drinking. It had to have been 10 years ago, but I still cringe when I think about that mess and having to leave it for someone else to clean up.
    I really don’t envy the job of people who have to clean trains and stations, it has to be a fairly common occurrence – I work afternoon shifts at a hospital on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Going home on the train with all the people who’ve been drinking since 5pm/coming home from footy reminded me of this incident a lot lately.

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