***NOTE: Just experienced the worst train ride ever. The events in this story is similar except that there were no such characters involved. Kudos to the dude who broke the emergency apparatus for giving us all fresh air to breath. Truly an inspiration.
It all started as a normal day. Everything seemed normal except that it rained a little in the morning so the roads and everything else that were not sheltered were wet.
Kumar walked slowly as usual, although he knows he’ll be late for his 9.30 class, he walked along the platform, slowly making sure of his steps as he puffed on his Pall Mall cigarette.
Just across from where he walked, he could see the 8 oclock KTM train which he would board to get to his University.
He puffed and flicked the ash casually, knowing that despite him taking the 8 oclock train, he would somehow reach class on time. Or probably a few minutes late but the lecturer was lenient and so she wouldn’t mind.
He took a last puff, walked in and slumped in to his seat.
And as he guessed, a familiar looking Chinese old man he had been seeing always in a business suit walks in hurriedly and sits across him followed by a hot Malaysian Airlines air stewardess.
The driver sounded the horn to signal that the train is about to move.
A young looking Indian man, about 26 years of age rushes into the train as the door closes behind him.
See, the thing about trains, although you know the regular passengers in the train, no one actually strikes up a conversation with each other because; a) either they’re too sleepy or b) they’re too busy reading or listening to music just to kill time.
Kumar decided to choose option “b” this time and popped in his headphones as Jimi Hendrix blasted through the tiny headphones.
And that’s when it happened. The train jerked to a halt, bringing a few standing passengers flying (and some falling) to the front. Few of them woke up with a shock. Everything turned chaotic because the lights went out, leaving the sunlight from the windows to brighten the train and the air-con went out as well.
Kumar could hear people murmuring around him and some “tsked”.
For a regular passenger, this is a normal scene. It happens all the time. The train jolts to a stop for no reason and after 5 minutes, it’s back up, engines running and they will be back on their way in no time.
Realising that there’s nothing to worry about, Kumar decided to continue listening to “The Beatles, Don’t Let Me Down” and decided to have a shut eye at the same time.
He didn’t know how long he slept because he was woken up with a small nudge by the passenger next to him, the Indian man.
“Hey, any idea how long the train’s going to be in static like this?”
“Probably for another 5 minutes or so.” Kumar replied, clearly annoyed at the Indian man for interrupting his little shut eye.
“But it’s been more than 10 minutes.” The Indian man replied.
The old Chinese man twitched in his chair. He tsked a little checking at his watch.
Kumar was amused.
“I’m late for my flight..” it was the air stewardess turn to voice out her frustration.
“I’m late for my meeting.” The Chinese man replied.
“Always like that.. every time. Regardless of whether you take the train early or late to work, you’re always late to work. My boss hates that. And thanks to that, it’s affecting my relationship with him..” The Indian man said.
“Give it a few more minutes. It’ll move.” Kumar said and continued listening to the Sex Pistols.
There was silence again but this time, everyone in the coach was getting agitated. Including Kumar. The train hasn’t budge for 20 minutes already.
“The driver should have atleast left the window open.” The Indian man said. “It’s getting pretty stuffy in here..”
Kumar checked his watch. It was 8.45. He’s going to be extremely late to class this time.
“Probably we should speak to the driver. Ask him what’s wrong with the train.” the Chinese man said.
“Agreed! The least he can do is atleast announce it on the speaker. I’m getting so worried now..” the air stewardess joined in.
“What if there’s another train behind us, and if we happen to be in it’s way?” The Indian man said.
“Choy! Don’t say stupid things!”
“It will never happen. The train’s are monitored” the air stewardess replies.
“I know, but if a train that is monitored and yet can break down in the middle of nowhere, then it’s a serious issue. I’m sorry, I’m just voicing my opinion..” the Indian man adjusted his tie to breath properly. Clearly he was getting paranoid.
Kumar started getting nervous as well. He was starting to feel stuffy in the train and desperately needed a breath of fresh air.
“Hold on, let me go check on the driver..” the Chinese man got up and walked past a few more passengers, who like him, were also clearly annoyed, making their way towards the driver’s compartment.
Kumar got up and decided to stretch his legs and that’s when he saw him. The driver. Outside the train, smoking a cigarette, clearly with no care in the world.
“Uncle!” Kumar shouted at the Chinese man. “Uncle!” the Chinese man turned. “No point. He’s too busy smoking outside.” Kumar pointed at the train driver.
“The cheek!” the Chinese man shouted.
“Here we are, struggling for some fresh air, and he has the cheek to smoke outside the train?” the Indian man got up.
“This is too much la! I’m late for my flight!” The air stewardess got up and banged on the window with her fist. “Oi! Bagi keluar la! Orang tak boleh bernafas nih! Let us out! I can’t breathe!”
“Idiot…” the Indian man muttered under his breath.
The Chinese man sat back on his chair, wiped a droplets of sweat from his forehead and sighed heavily. After a minute of banging the window, the air stewardess too slumped back on her chair.
“I waste RM 6 just to take this crappy train and get these kind of crappy service..” she said.
“What’s so funny, boy?” The Chinese man retorted.
“Just what?” it was the air stewardess turn.
“Just that, i usually don’t buy my tickets. I usually sneak through the gate.” Kumar grinned.
“Smart. But how do you get out the other side?” The Indian man’s turn to ask.
“I have some old bunch of tickets that i’ve been collecting, I use them if there are any ticket collectors. The ticket collectors don’t really check, all they do is just collec the ticket and tell you to move on. And sometimes, there aren’t any to collect your tickets, so you just walk past the gate and throw the ticket into the bin. Or in my cash, keep it for another day” Kumar winked.
“Maybe I should do that. Waste money so much and get this kind of service for what?” the Chinese man said.
“Agreed. Smart.” the air stewardess said.
There was silence again as the windows started getting clouded with fog.
“It’s getting stuffier by the minute..” The Indian man said.
“Maybe we should try opening the window and see if we can let some air in.” The Chinese man got up and tried to pry the window open but it just won’t budge. He sat down back totally exhausted.
“This is not right! They should atleast leave the door open for us to breath!” the air stewardess said.
“Agreed! Or atleast leave the air-con on.”
There was a crackle on the speaker above them as a soft voice emitted, “We’re terribly sorry to inform you that the train has experienced some malfunction and we’re waiting for a backup train to arrive for help.”
Everyone in the train sighed and swore in their own respective languages.
“Idiot! Now only tell!” The Chinese man woke up.
“Where are you going?” the Indian man said.
“Doing what is necesary. I want to live, not die out of suffocation in this stupid train.”
“You’re going to break the window open?” Kumar got up.
“Well someone has to do it.” he shrugged.
“Just do it Uncle! Besides, everyone’s getting tired and breathless already!” the air stewardess got up as well.
“Wow! Wow! Hold on. Why damage property? There are better ways to do it.” The Indian man got up and took a look around.
“Probably if we can break this emergency-” the Indian man stopped short, as the old Chinese Uncle broke the emergency apparatus and turned the lever down to get the doors of the train to open.
A breeze of fresh air swept into the train as everyone sighed with relief.
The air stewardess gave the old man a hug and the Indian man started clapping. Soon everyone followed, everyone cheered and whistled as everyone celebrated that tiny breath of fresh air.
Kumar sat back on his chair, totally shocked and surprised. It just took one man to stand up, take action and change the course of everything in the train. Slowly, everyone else started breaking the emergency apparatus to bring in a breeze of fresh air into the train.
The train driver, now clearly alarmed rushed in and shouted, “Hey who told you to that?? I told everyone to calm down!”
And that’s when Kumar stood up, and shouted, “You didn’t care for us, all you did was tell us to calm down, while you smoked outside and we suffocated inside! We did what we could only do, live!”
Everyone applauded. The old Chinese Uncle winked and smiled. The Indian man showed the thumbs up. The air stewardess blew him a kiss.
The train didn’t budge, but Kumar made a few good friends that day. Infact many. And he still slips past the ticket gate. And now, 3 more people are following suit. The train still malfunctions at times, but who cares. No one has complains now because everyone rides free.