My attempts to help an old lady fell on deaf ears

Thankfully, the 8pm train is due soon.

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I'm shivering on a cold, dark Thursday night at Queen Street station waiting on my train home.

I've been working late and just want to get on and have a wee doze until I arrive at my destination.

The station is quiet and there are only a few commuters on the long draughty platform.

The tannoy crackles into life. Great, my train must be nearby.

"We are sorry to announce the 2000 hours Helensburgh to Airdrie train has been cancelled. Please check the notice boards for further information."

I slump back on the cold seat and turn to the elderly lady sitting next to me and gesture towards the electronic notice board.

"Wonder how long we are going to have to wait now then?" I say.

"Eh?" she replies.

"The train," I return gesturing first towards the track and then nod at the sign. "I hope we're not kept too long."

"Eh?" repeats the lady pointing to her ear and shaking her head.

I stand up and face the lady. "CAN YOU NOT HEAR?" I inquire in a loud voice which echoes around the deserted station.

"Eh?" she repeats yet again.

"We are sorry to announce that ALL trains are cancelled. ScotRail apologises for any inconvenience," the tannoy booms.

The lady is none the wiser. She can't hear and I attempt to update her.

"The trains are off," I tell her, making hand motions which admittedly mean nothing.

How the heck do I get her to understand? I make lots of embarrassing body movements as if we are playing charades. I shake my head from side-to-side and my hands are everywhere.

The lady shrugs, and smiles and hasn't a blinking clue what I am trying to say.

I can't leave her there on her own and start to rummage in my bag for a paper and pen, but I have none. I make writing actions to find out if she has a paper and pen. She shakes her head.

Surely most deaf people carry a pencil and a scrap of paper, I wrongly assumed.

I offer her my arm and we head to the ticket office where I explain our frustrations to the guy behind the counter.

"Our trains are cancelled. This lady is deaf. I can't abandon her on the platform. Do you have a pen and paper please so that I can find out where she lives?" I ask him.

We find a seat and I hand the lady the pen and pad.

"Write down your address." I mouth to her.

She scribbles on the paper and hands it back to me. At last we are getting somewhere. I think to myself.

I look at the piece of paper and everything is blurred. I hold it close and then far away but it's no use.

"Wait till I get my glasses." I explain. But no-one hears. I am back rummaging in my hand bag and after some time I realise I have none.

Now it's time for my new travel companion to get frustrated at me.

She can't hear. I can't read. She can barely speak. What a predicament.

I show her my mobile and point to myself.

"I'll phone a taxi," I say slowly and loudly as if I am in a foreign country.

She nods.

Fifteen minutes to wait. I raise a hand and flicker my fingers open and shut three times.

She nods.

What the heck do I do for 15 minutes? I wonder.

I phone my friend to pass the time.

"Where does the woman live?" my pal asks.

"Airdrie somewhere, I answer, "but I can't make out her address as I've left my glasses in the office."

"Good luck with that, laughs my friend before hanging up. I don't think she really grasped the gravity of my situation.

The taxi arrives and I assist the woman into the taxi with her shopping.

"Where to?" asks the driver.

I give him my address and explain the dilemma.

Half way through our journey, the taxi windows are steamed up and my quiet lady passenger has a brainwave and starts to write her address in large letters on the condensation on the window.

Brilliant idea!

Hurrah. It's big enough for me to read. The driver smiles at the pair of us.

Soon we are at my house and the woman offers me some money towards the fare.

I pay the lot and ask the driver to make sure she gets home safely.

"No problem," he assures me.

I'm still rambling on when the woman leans over and gives me a big hug.

"Have a good night," I say, smiling with relief at finally making it home and having successfully completed my good deed.

LATER in the evening, tired and pondering over our journey, my daughter phones and I tell her what has happened.

With little sympathy she tells me: "You can fair talk mum. Are you sure she really was deaf?"

Ignoring her insult, I sit and consider how the world must be a very different place when you can't hear and just how frustrating it must be doing routine tasks the rest of us take for granted.

PS: I now carry, glasses, and a pen and paper with me at all times.

Automotive

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