Since the catastrophic events that overtook us last week, I think it’s safe to say that everyone was relieved when a sense of normality had resumed. Problem is, normal is well and truly a relative concept. As I arrived at my station this morning, I was given a wonderfully poignant reminder of what normal actually means.
“0814 – Charing Cross – Cancelled”
The next train may have only been 15 minutes, but when one is used to a train arriving within moments of you entering the platform, 15 minutes felt like a lifetime. But you know what? That’s fine, yes it is an inconvenience, but withing moments the station staff would inform me of the reason for the cancellation. They would provide me a well-rounded, logical and coherent explanation for the cancellation.
“You what? Yeah sorry, no clue mate”
Imagine my surprise.
The official Southeastern app on my phone would surely give me the reason I so desperately sought. After all, seeing as the company don’t seem to invest any money into the trains themselves, surely their extremely hard-earned £££ would be poured into their image; successful branding and seeming integration of modern technology will keep the customers on their side. So of course, the app would be my saviour, yes?
One thing remained. It was time for me to take to social media to interrogate Southeastern directly as to their ever expected inadequacy. Eventually, my phone pinged into life and an answer presented itself:
“Hi, this was cancelled due to a fault on the train”
When a light bulb fails, you don’t just stare into the darkness, before giving up and getting your light supply from a light in another other room. No, you replace the faulty light bulb with a new one. When you discover a fault with your other half which brings your entire relationship to a shuddering halt, you could easily endure at the wreckage of your once happy life. Or you could simply replace your faulty relationship with one that makes you happy.
So please do excuse me for my radical thinking here, but surely, if you have discovered a fault with your train, you could, oh I don’t know…
…SEND ANOTHER DAMN TRAIN?!
For any logical thinking person, the suggestion of sending another train to replace your faulty machine is an obvious one. But Southeastern have an excuse prepared for that one. They will claim that at peak times, all their trains are utilised on their service. And if this statement turned out to be true, I would begrudgingly accept and understand the disappearance of my 0814 service to Charing Cross.
Problem is, when part of your route goes past the Slade Green depot, the transparency of their lies becomes hilariously apparent. Just a bit of advice, it’s probably a good idea to shut the depot doors so we can’t see the spare trains that you claim don’t exist. You look about as innocent as a dog standing in a room filled with what once was the insides of your favourite cushions.
With everything that happened last week, I guess if I was being nice, I’d say that it’s nice that normal service has been resumed. Problem is, my levels of kindness are running on empty after previous events. Normality is nothing more than a return to a lack of communication between management and station staff, all of whom lack basic customer service skills. Normality is a return to an inadequate service that fails to deliver. Normality is a return to a fistful of lies shoved down the throats of the public.
At least during the week of the derailment, I knew what to expect when I arrived at the station each morning. I almost prefer that to expecting a basic service that never arrives. But perhaps I am nothing more than an optimistic dreamer, vying for a world of efficiency.
Will my dreams ever come true? Is this reality all we can ever achieve?
I guess its back to life, back to reality.