I fumbled with my headphones, picked Sarah McLachlan to accompany me, and settled back, watching the city roll away into the distance. I looked around the carriage, a collection of people, older couples returning from a day out, dads with kids and man-boy teens on an adventure. I studied them, checked out clothing, girlfriends and bags.
I wondered where they had been, what had they been doing. I tried to read lips and make conversations in my head. I wondered what they did at work or how they spent their days.
Why? Idk, there seemed a strange sense of the ‘returned soldier’ syndrome. Here I was exploring my fellow travellers, diagnosing their days and ails, yet all along, only a few hours earlier I had been up at the floods. Now, sitting on a train being rattled about seemed surreal.
Anyway, who would have guessed where I had been. Was not like I had water running out of my boots, no more than the returned soldier wears fatigues cover in the grime of war. It’s such an oddity. We all live interesting lives in one form or another, some of us have curious lives or professions. It’s the later I fit into.
There I was, for 18 hours straight, working at the floods. It’s nothing remarkable. No homes were inundated, property was flooded and farm land and some roads were closed. Did not alter the fact that towns were under threat and some parts were under water. Even some homes were evacuated.
But no one knew this about me. I was just another passenger, slowly being lulled to sleep by the rhythmic motion of the carriage as it tootled towards the night and home.
They were oblivious to the hours I had been up, the miles I had driven. How I had waded through water to get the shots, worked till 2 am shooting and then feeding material out overnight so News had it first thing. How I had fought sleep to stay awake to drive home, whilst the reporter nodded off in the car. She had more hours’ ahead, writing and cutting, still to go.
From time to time I speculate how many people are sitting there on the train, maybe stopped at traffic lights in the car or walking amongst us, all of us oblivious of what the person next to us has done that day or are about to embark on.