A large-framed, middle-aged woman with a black cane boarded the underground at 17.02 today. She, like the rest of us waiting for the 10-car train, was headed to a destination southwest of Central Station.
There wasn't much to distinguish her from any other rush-hour passenger as she waited on the platform absent of any accompanying friends or colleagues those last seven minutes before the gust of wind picked up and the vibration of the oncoming train was felt under my feet. We were breathing the same piped-in air, enduring the same noise pollution and watching the same people walk by to the front of the queue.
The train, which had 12 stops before it would reach my destination, rushed into the station at a breakneck speed in the conductor's effort to keep his schedule. What occurred after certain passengers disembarked, and the coast became more clear to board, is too shameful to describe.
Let's simply say that a larger-constructed woman, who walked with a noticeable left-hip limp once she leaned toward the direction of the train and laboured heavily as she climbed over the gap between the train and the platform, needed a seat (or two) upon which to rest as she left whatever it was that had occupied her time and presumably home to rest and recover for another go tomorrow.
What she got instead for the cost of her ticket was a middle finger from a teenage girl and laughter from two others who refused to move when asked by a fellow passenger for the woman's sake.
Somewhere deep in the heart of my forest-laden homeland, Sweden, a pulse of politeness and good behaviour still beats among people living in falu-red coloured houses who are connected by a bond of respect for one another and an honour of a dying personal characteristic called chivalry. Those community folks are becoming increasingly hard to find, however, even with a great GPS device locked and loaded, as the road leading to random acts of kindness is slowly being repaved with informalities and rudeness.
Once upon a time, in a generation long ago, people used to care for their nearby residents, keep their communities clean, and respect the elderly. Nearly every mature woman was a potential grandmother for the neighbourhood youth. "Yes, sir", and "No, thank you, ma'am", were prevalent terms used among teens.
Alas, the 1950s have come and gone, and with the passing of every year, a part of history has, too. Today's youth in my local district — my kommun — have adopted a creed which says, "Me first at every cost".