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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Suffer little children...

We often complain about our modern world don't we? Its excess', its violence, its seemingly idiotic notions, its indulgence and its stubborn refusal to view manners, people and events in the good old fashioned way...
However, we don't work backwards. Recently, I was queuing at the post office and the line was long, there being only two till operators, when there was a disturbance some way in front. It wasn't loud but it caused several people to hook out their mobiles and start dialling.
Naturally, I strained myself forward, tipping my head this way and that to look but I could only see a woman mopping up some red stuff by hand with a bundle of tissues. Slowly the line reduced and I edged foreword. But the line had quietened and the usual rabble of Essex folk, complaining that they hadn't seen Eastenders for a week (therefore their entire life was about to fall apart) tuned in instead to the cause of the disturbance and much proved their true worth by offering all the assistance and empathy they had to a young mother and her eleven year old daughter, a pale and choleric thin thing who was in the process of coughing up a huge amount of bright red blood.
That crimson signal appeared to galvanise an entire mini army though and all the Health and Safely issues and factors that we normally dislike so much and which forms such a large part of our modern world, were immediately acted on.
A chap got through to the emergency services. They were then patched through to security who had arrived and who gave then precise directions how to get to the shop because it was in a shopping precinct. A manager arrived and took charge, a woman with protective clothing appeared and began to mop the floor after putting down a slippery floor sign and the queue edged forward slowly.
The child was, by now, finished throwing up blood and sat back in a hard chair, looking extremely frightened and white, tears flowing and inducing the most frightful pity within all of us. However, a paramedic arrived within five minutes and took her pulse, briefly examined her and then, lead by the manager, escorted mother and child away through a back door.
I arrived at the counter to buy some stamps and mentioned to the woman, how sad it was to see a child suffer. She agreed but we could have been chatting about an incident which happened weeks ago for the space where she had been ill was empty and new customers would never know that anything untoward had happened just minutes before. Under such circumstances, she mentioned, it was important to keep the line moving and not let the ill person feel as if he or she was an item of curiosity. All had been thought out before, with all preventative measures and opinions just in place.
I gained the impression of a superb clockwork machine, working continuously just below the surface of everyday life and one continuously geared moreover to and safety. Later, as I left the precinct, I walked past an ambulance, no doubt with the child and mother in it and everywhere was so silent. If I see mother and child again, I will let you know.