I remind myself of this periodically, and yesterday which had begun with two really good meetings, ended up with me reminding myself of what really matters...
Having travelled a large chunk of my journey on Tuesday on a rather full train with a booked seat that failed to tick most of the boxes I'd ticked, I had not achieved any of the service prep I'd hoped for, but I had read 100 pages of the book I have to review by September. I got up early yesterday (6:30) so that after breakfast I could catch an earlier train to squeeze in an extra (and very interesting) informal meeting. My main meeting was good fun - old and new colleagues, great banter and I learned loads of useful stuff. We finished quite early so I headed off for my train thinking this was great, time to grab a meal somewhere before boarding my final train...
Arriving at Didcot Parkway it was clear the trains were in disarray, automated systems announcing delays to trains that had actually been cancelled. The tragedy of 'person hit by train'...which is almost always code for a suicide, and the horror of someone who felt life was so awful they could not bear to live anymore; the grief and guilt of family and friends who have lost one they love; the trauma to the train driver and witnesses... and the inevitable disruption to services which seem to last for many hours.
Eventually a train arrived, crammed to the gunwales with people, an unscheduled stop to scoop up those of us travelling to Oxford, as the platform was so crowded that safety would soon be compromised. Blitz spirit triumphed, several of us helped a frail elderly woman up the steps and into the 'lobby' where we stood like vertical sardines for the ten minute journey.
Unexpectedly, and miraculously or so it felt, I made my booked train, which was on time, and safely and efficiently was carried to Birmingham International to await the 18:53 to Glasgow... except it was now the 18:53 to Preston where further announcements would be made. No catering on board and the train was packed out, so no possibility of doing any work even if I'd had a socket, which I didn't. Regular updates at every calling point showed we were getting later and later, and we were due to transfer to another service at Preston becuase the overhead cables were defunct north of Motherwell...
Arriving at Preston we were told to make our way as quickly as possible to a different train, which was being held for us and would take us to Carlisle. So upwards of 200 people flocked up the steps, over the bridge, down the steps and into the already heaving train... I headed along the platform and, to my amazement, found a vacant seat to travel on to Carlisle. Evidently the passengers from four trains had been transferred onto one - two Edinburgh and two Glasgow.
Arriving at Carlisle we once again streamed as fast as our feet would carry us to queue for the buses that would take us onwards - to Edinburgh/Glasgow/Motherwell/Lockerbie... super coaches, minibuses even a few taxis... and finally we arrived at GLC main entrance with no trains left to go anywhere, and a huge taxi queue
And then I got home, which was ultimately all that mattered, safe and sound, if hungry, tired and with almost a week's work still to do. But somewhere, in the south of England, a train driver was traumatised, a family was grieving and a life was lost. Today I am so tired that my concentration is poor and I have still ahcieved almost nothing that I need to achieve... but I am alive, well, fed and watered, and all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.
Eternal rest grant unto the 'person hit by train', oh Lord, let perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace.
To the train driver peace and release, to the family and friends, comfort... and to the young accountant wondering whether to claim a refund and keep it as his employers would pay anyway give wisdom, integrity and a sense of perspective.