It is to Thailand’s “same same, but different,” or Mexico’s “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.” It is plastered on the walls of tube stations, inked on cheap cotton t-shirts and painted on ceramic mugs sold at stalls near the Royal Palace. Apparently it is even the name of multiple books and movies.
Of course, I speak of England’s “mind the gap.”
|A rough reminder to
Mind the Gap.
Outside of the busiest train stations, I must admit that the novelty of Britain’s famous warning to subway patrons is mostly background noise. Last Friday, I wished the warning was a little bit louder.
I headed northbound on the District line when, at Fulham Broadway, an older couple and their grandchild, probably around 4, attempted to board the train. Both grandparents rolled heavy suitcases behind them and, with the child’s arm held tight, the grandfather allowed the kid to step onto the train ahead of them both. Poor little bugger’s foot fell short of the train and he slipped into the gap and pulled his grandfather down to the ground with him.
He gripped the platform with his stomach and outstretched arms, his legs were completely consumed by the gap. I do not remember the boy making a single sound. His grandmother absolutely froze in terror, and the poor grandfather did everything he could to hold since he could not muster the strength to pull him out. Fortunately, I stood just inside the train doors and was in-between levels of Angry Bird when we pulled up to the station.
It all happened so incredibly fast. I heard my iPhone hit the floor, but cannot recall exactly how my computer bag separated from my shoulder. It must have taken at least a second for me to move from where I stood to where I ended up, down on my knees with my arm between the kid and the train. However long it took, that moment seemed to skip in time. I found the boy’s waist band and, along with his grandfather, pulled him onto the platform.
I was grateful that, first, the grandfather fell, and second, that he stayed put and held on for dear life. The train’s conductor must have seen the man hit the deck and I believe the chaos bought us extra time. And the grandfather just refused to let go. I can only wonder what would have happened if these two links in the chain of events did not happen.
You may spin this mini-event any way you’d like. It’s not that difficult for me to find “meaning” in it, though at the time I simply got up off the ground and said thank you to the women who handed me my phone and computer bag. The train went back to business as usual, passengers tried to find their own comfort zone and stay out of the way. I helped the grandparents and little guy onto the train, and tried not to add any drama to their shock. They thanked me, and I said it was no problem. Then I got off at the next stop. It was only then that the gravity of the situation hit home. “What if,” was not a question I wanted to try and answer. Bloody hell, it was a close call, and I decided to leave it at that. Oh yea, I also thought it was a good time to tell my wife that I loved her.