Above and beyond call of duty

Charles Filies, Athlone

On Monday February 19 at about 3.45pm, I experienced the following unbelievable “treatment” from a Metrorail employee that will stay with me for many years to come.

This is especially noteworthy and significant in the present light of poor or no service delivery that is reported almost on a daily basis in the media about this public service provider.

Some background information leading up to the above:

My grandson, Connor, aged two years and 10 months – except for his interest in playing musical instruments – is besotted with his favourite television programme, Thomas and Friends. His biggest dream (in the minds of his close family anyway) was to experience a real ride in a real Thomas as was evident by his body language when passing a train or a train tunnel.

The following is a brief version of what took place on the above date:

On fetching him from nursery school, I decided to make his dream come true by taking him on a short train ride en route home. The plan was for my wife to drop us off and then to meet us again at our destination. We decided on the nearest station, which was Crawford station, as our station of departure. I enquired from the lady official on duty in the ticket box about arrival time of next Cape Town bound train and explained to her my reasons for wanting to do a short train ride to Athlone.

We were told that the train was running late by about 30 to 45 minutes, as per norm. The equally excited “station master” then suggested instead of waiting on the platform, we should await the train’s arrival in our car and that she would make a public announcement on their PA system when the train is approaching. What happened next really restored my faith in our country and its people.

1. Our lady “station master” left her office a short while later and managed to find us in the car park to inform us that train delay is a bit longer as predicted, because of a pedestrian incident.

2. She telephonically made enquiries about latest developments and informed us of the latest arrival time. At this stage, I was considering postponing the ride for another time.

3. She then announced the arrival of the train when it was a few stations away.

4. And this was the cherry on the top of her service: As the train pulled into Crawford station, she made a surprise public announcement about a “first time passenger” on the platform named Connor, and that he will be taking a ride in a real “Thomas” train with some other complimentary comments regarding safety and enjoyment.

5. She then repeated her wishes of a safe and exciting journey to Connor as the train to Athlone were about to leave Crawford station.

The other passengers on the platform congratulated Connor by way of showing him thumbs up signs and with smiles. He was so chuffed.

I sincerely think that this lady deserves kudos for flying the Metrorail flag high, especially in what she did for a future Metrorail employee.

Connor’s only disappointment was that Thomas did not enter or exit any tunnels on his journey to Athlone station.