The Secret Deafie: How a train delay was made worse

Posted on April 16, 2012

The Secret Deafie is a series of anonymous columns written by different writers. Today’s Deafie tells us about an encounter during a delayed train journey.

Visiting my mother in the north is always enjoyable. Lovely company, cooked meals, lots of tea and biscuits!

However, the journey always seems to entail bizarre moments on public transport. Often this includes delayed trains and abrasive commuters trying to get home.

On my latest journey, the train was delayed at Milton Keynes whilst waiting for a connecting service.

Gazing blankly at the platform, I noticed an older lady and her husband. Both looked rather frustrated and tired as they waited to board.

Later on, the train came to an ungraceful halt; catapulting a number of unsuspecting passengers to the floor. This always seems to occur every time the train approaches Litchfield, though I have yet to figure out why!

The familiar distorted announcement tone pierced my ears, followed by garbled mumbling through speakers.

The couple I’d earlier seen on the platform caught my eye. Focusing on their lip patterns, I just about managed to ascertain what had happened.

“Delayed! ..passenger pulling emergency stop.”

“…won’t stop…Lichfield? Connection..Birmingham..miss it. My car..Lichfield!”

Looking very flustered, the train conductor made an appearance to allay concerns and grumbles. He managed to calm a few passengers, who seemed to thank him for the effort; explaining that Virgin Trains are charged £300 per minute for delays caused on the railway network.

The couple seemed upset, with the husband looking like he was on the verge of tears over the situation. This missed connection was the same one I needed.


Later on, standing on a platform, sighing at the prospect of spending an hour there, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I turned round to see the lady from the couple mutter a few words, before she pointed at a closed cafe.

I didn’t quite hear her, so I asked her nicely to look at me and repeat what she said.

An expression of horror and distress filled her face – in contrast to the smile I had been given the moment she first looked toward me.

“Oh so sorry, I am sorry, do not worry,” she said.

She made a brief gesture to the cafe (and a sign she probably meant to be “TEA”); disappearing very rapidly before I could think about a response to what had just occurred.

I was shocked.

Did she believe the extra effort was too much?

Was she afraid to communicate with a deafie?

Would she normally have reacted in such a bizarre way had she and her husband not been stressed?

Was the prospect of communicating with a deafie some kind of social taboo?

The last part of the journey was a little depressing. Funny old world I suppose.

At least when I finally arrived, my mother said hello and gave me a hug!

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