In the morning I went up to Manor Park, where a young man I’d never met before, Tano, volunteered to record and edit a voicover I needed for a short video to launch my crowdfunding campaign for the DLR project. He was great giving input on subtle differences from one take and another, trimming out just the perfect number of breaths, fine tuning the volume level from clip to clip and discussing art and video and audio. He gave me coffee and a donut and spent the better part of his day making my project just right, asking nothing in return. As the editting process drew out, I had to push back another later appointment with a sitter three times, but i needed this audio, and i needed at least a little time with the sitter so that I can paint his seat-mate tomorrow. Tano put the finishing touches on the track, loaded it into my portable hardrive, and walked me to the bus stop.
Dashing back to my flat- I was late to meet L, the man at the DLR who saw to it that I was granted permission to paint on the train and was now volunteering to sit for me- grabbing my easel and backpack, running again to the station with the easel in hand, shooting up the steps, up the escalator and onto the platform, passing a man holding two children while two more ran about. Setting my easel down, I hear “you all right?” Some times in England this literally means “are you OK?”, and sometimes it means “do you want a beer?” and sometimes it is just used as a greeting. I turn to look at the man. I took his drift to mean the prior, figuring he’d seen my sweating face and panting breath and was worried. I replied yes, i just ran down the street I’m fine…
“do you recognize me?”
Now I finally look at the man.
“OH MY GOD” I blurted out loud. Fear, shame, concern.
It was the DRL train operator who had been suspended, in part, because of me.
“Have you been reinstated?”
“no, next week.”
“I’m really sorry, you know I did send in a letter on your behalf”
“It’s ok, I overreacted, it was my fault.”
and he meant it sincerely and my heart went out to this man with four children. This is a man with backbone and generosity. The train arrived, and I had to go, I wanted to ask him to sit for me, but, at the moment, just couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. I will be looking for him.
I got to Poplar, took the stairs down, said hi to the guards at the booth, passed through the revolving security gate, and made my way to the hut where I sign in for the day. Leaving the hut, I see L up on the platform waving to me. He was wearing a smart red and black parca with large white buttons for his sitting, which looked great with his short, slightly spiked hair. We only had an hour together on the train, but he sat like monument then headed off to whatever his later plans were. On the way home I waved to two of the operators I’d ridden with previously in the week. They waved back, and wanted a quick look at the progress.
So many people see the world as grim and uncaring, but today, I experienced three acts of unselfish goodwill. How can I ever hope to repay such bounty?
At home, I knocked on my new flatmate’s door and asked if he’d like to share the pasta al ragu I was about to make. We had a good meal together.