Frank Conversations


Richmond – Willesden Jct – Euston – Return

It’s fair to say I’m fairly memorable and I shamelessly milk that fact to make my life easier at every opportunity I get. (I even use it to get free do-nuts, but then who wouldn’t if they could? That’s a story for another time) If people feel they have a personal connection with you they’re more likely to go out of their way to help. But sometimes even I’m surprised by recognition.

I jumped on the bus today and not only did the driver recognise me, but he remembered which stop I usually get off at. I won’t bore you with my maths, but I think there must be more than 40 drivers on this route so this driver can’t have seen me more than twice over the last 6 months. I am only one of thousands of people he must carry each week, yet somehow I stuck in his brain the a human ear worm. I would clearly make a lousy undercover officer!

My attempt to get on the Overground at Richmond was frustrated by not being able to find a ramp wrangler, despite Overground’s assurance that staff are available from the first train to the last. Whilst I was waiting by the train the driver left his cab, something they’re not supposed to do, and approached me. He was very clear about what he thought of both the level of service and the current staffing levels. I couldn’t help but agree. Fortunately assistance did turn up and I made it onto the train.

It seems I managed to just slip in under the wire. Almost as soon as I arrived at Willesden Junction all trains to/from Richmond were cancelled due to a broken freight train. This seems to be a relatively common occurrence, and I’m pleased for once I wasn’t caught up in it.

My return journey was straightforward, except for another frank and revealing conversation. I’ve been through Willesden Jct enough to know most of the staff, at least by sight, so I wasn’t surprised when one of them came over to talk to me. After a trip not so long ago I’d written to London Overground to both compliment the assistance I got at the station and report the missing assistance on arriving at Richmond. It turns out that, rather than generating a pat on the back for the Willesden staff, my letter had in fact got them an ear bending for not contacting Richmond. Even I know that company procedure makes this is the job of ‘control’, and Euston staff could also have made the call. But in the end ‘blame’ was placed firmly, and incorrectly in my opinion, at Willesden. Why is it so often that opportunities to learn and improve instead just become finger pointing blame exercises.

I guess this is just another illustration that you can control the intention of your actions, but not the outcomes.

About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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