please empty your brain below

I would just like to point out the issue of invisible disabilities. There are all sorts of things like arthritis that you can't see just from looking at someone. Don't get me wrong, if there's a load of people walking through a station then it's unlikely that all of them have such a condition. My point is that you really don't know with individual people.
Why not just ask her if she needs some help? It's the difference between living in a jungle or in a community.
unlike :-(
or rather - a quick - "do you need help?" - "No thank you, that's my mother up there" would have answerred any query, and any question, plus giving you karma+ points without any additional effort involved :-).

Sheesh, doesn't anyone talk to anyone else anymore in London? Certtainly easier than having to debate it afterwards on the intertubes.
I like to think I would have said 'You OK?'. Depending upon the number of steps, I might have carried the buggy myself after asking for the passenger to be carried by her mum.
I could have been that older mum! I would have blessed anyone offering to carry the buggy up rather than having to go back down and help my daughter struggle up with it. Especially after carrying up all that shopping.
Apparently not. On occasions when I've made the mistake of speaking to a stranger - "Do you need assistance" etc I've been made to feel like a criminal. On occasions when I've needed help e.g. fainting on tube - I've been trampled on in the rush of people trying to get away. No, people generally don't want to involve themselves with anyone else (except for the obvious reasons)& this does appear to be especially noticeable in London. I have too many injuries to even contemplate picking up/heaving someone else's baggage/prams - I'm not going to stick around giving explantations to people either - I have explicity refused to help with a babe&pushchair for example.
I always offer help because I care about other people, people I dont even know, whatever the response it always makes me feel better to have offered a hand.
Ha! This is a brilliant post!

Although DG is studiously careful in maintaining his anonymity, each blog entry can't help but give some peek into his psychological makeup. In this instance, he's been more candid than usual and chosen to let his guard down a bit.

If any long-time readers of this blog are surprised at all at DG's response to this dilemma, well...they're simply not paying enough attention, or they're incurious about the author, or they're just not given to 'Cracker'-style analysis.

OF COURSE he's a 'walking on by kind of person'. I wouldn't have expected anything else.
By the way, I want to make it clear that I'm absolutely not judging DG one way or the other - nor would I wish to.

I'm simply saying that his admission that 'I'd rather not get involved' conforms precisely to what I have learnt about him through reading this blog for a number of years.
I have been in situations where I was going to ask someone if they needed help but somebody else just in front of me has stepped in and lent a hand.

It makes sense to help if you are able to especially if it is busy as you don't just help the person with the buggy/suitcase, you help everybody trying to get past by removing the blockage.
Having been through the buggy experience with three children, I would still offer to help - but that's just the kind of person I am.
DG, being right on many things, you are very wrong on this one. But as Richard M says, I'm not surprised you did what you did.

As someone who regularly finds themselves in this kind of situation I can confirm that we can cope. We can manage. We will have worked out the limitations of what we can do and factored that in to our transport plans.


Extra help is always welcome.

Do I feel comfortable leaving shopping or bags unattended at the top of stairs. Of course not. I'd never do it normally. But sometimes you have to take a risk.

Do I really want my retired parents hoiking a pram up steps. Not really, but sometimes it has to be done.

So if someone had asked me whether they could help, I would have lept at the chance.

Common decency and common humanity pulling together.

You could have just asked, and then you would have got your answer as to whether they wanted your help.
I helped a young mum up the stairs the other day and as we were struggling with the pushchair and all the shopping, puffing and panting our way to the top I noticed we were followed by a young male, he offered no assitance.

Once at the top of the stairs the girl thanked me politely and went off arm in arm with the young guy who had followed us up!
Thank god I don't live in London anymore, but I never understood where on earth they could go with all their buggies?? Especially on the buses in the area where I lived, usually there were 3 buggies on a single bus.

I mean seriously, we've had a few babies in my family, and I can't recall a single moment using public transport with them in the buggy. What for?

Park, playground, nursery, doctor: they are all walking distance pretty much everywhere in the developed world, so the only reason I can imagine to take the public transport with a buggy is to irritate others.
I usually spend so long agonising over whether to offer help that by the time I do, the moment has passed. The moral impulse to help can find itself in conflict with all sort of other instincts. What if I make things worse/drop the baby... What if they don't really want help but don't like to refuse... What if they (or others) thought I had an ulterior motive or were interfering? And so on... I suspect this is a very English affliction.
I was in my teens when I began working in London, and it didn't take me long to work out that I wasn't cut out for train travel. Specifically seeing the same miserable faces on the same carriages, every morning and every journey home: the growing fear that - if I carried on commuting for long enough - that I'd be turned into a zombie, too.
I'm just so glad I copied a friend and discovered motorbikes, instead.
You'll rarely find me down on a tube station at midnight, but if I ever see anyone looking like they need help to, say, get across a road, I'll usually try to stop and offer assistance.
Well done DG, you passed the test, you are a true Londoner !

@Richard: we KNOW you're not a judgemental sort of person, because that would be very wrong, wouldn't it ?!
"Do you need a hand with that buggy love?" Takes all of, what, five seconds to ask.

How bizarre.
buggy love!?

"Someone help me, help me, help me please...
Is the answer up above?"
Back in the day when I was a young mum, I always took baby out of the buggy and folded it on the bus. Baby is 18 years old now, so not w-a-y back in the day! Buggies just seem so cumbersome these days!

Had I seen what DG had seen though, I probably would have done the same as him. They had a plan.

I think the fact that it was the older woman having to do the running up and down stairs instead of being the one waiting with the pram, speaks volumes about the younger woman though!
Vicki, I am appalled at your story. The bloke was probably too busy rolling a cigarette or somesuch to help his partner.

Don't get me started!
I am a very selfish person, so I would, and always do, offer to help. It makes me feel good for the rest of the day, whether they accept the offer or not.
I have to say, I never had DG down as a Tory voter...

Oh, bit 'o' politics, etc etc
I too am a walk on by sort of person, but I'm always so grateful when people overcome their impulses not to intrude and ask me if I'm OK. Even if nothing can be done to help, it makes a huge difference to feel that someone is concerned about me when I'm in pain, exhausted and struggling to cope with London's infrastructure. It's horrible to have to ask for help and risk the humiliation of being turned down, particularly when you have an 'invisible disability'. When I'm suffering the worst, I don't have the energy to risk rejection.
Karen makes a good point; but just to add that people with disabilities make up a fifth of the UK population. Add that to people with buggies and children, and small people who aren't physically strong, and it's likely that if someone looks like they need help, they do need it.

Anyone who rejects respectful offers of help abusively is doing such harm to others, it makes me really sad.
OK, last comment I promise! "I'd make sure I could cope with my luggage before leaving the house, or travel with a friend, or take an alternative route that allowed me independence." You're an able bodied, strong person. Why do you think that people not able bodied or strong don't deserve help, just because they can't afford a taxi or don't have an available friend?
Different people are comfortable helping the world in different ways.

You choose to do it by writing a highly informative blog that gives enjoyment to thousands. Others choose to do it by volunteering or by random acts of kindness.

Each to his own.
There's a more important issue here too, of course.

While the tube is so inaccessible to those with baggage, pushchairs, wheelchairs, or infirmities (many of them invisible), shouldn't there be staff around to assist?

Overcoming the non-Equality Act compliant transport network shouldn't just be left to the generosity of strangers.
simple answer, if you can't manage, dont have kids.
Actually, I'm not beyond asking for help. I don't see it as a sign of weakness, but it can make someone else feel really good because they can help.
What worries me is that all those leaving comments seem to believe every word that DG has written as being a true description of his real self...
DG's last paragraph seems out of character to me. Or at least out of the character I've cooked up for him in my mind from reading for a number of years. I have never imagined him as a "if you can't manage, dont etc etc" kind of guy.

So I'm thinking he's doing an Alf Garnet in this case; playing a character that draws out those people who, blinded by their unpleasant attitudes, don't realise they're being satirised.
I usually offer, though tend to be more reluctant in Central London deep stations, because I don't believe pushchairs should be taken into Central London in the rush hours, for the same reason as bicycles aren't allowed, simply due to the lack of capacity on the trains, the overcrowded platforms and the impossibility of evacuating pushchairs in an emergency. It's fairly rare in my experience to see someone alone with a pushchair, trying to use trains and tubes, as you can't rely on someone being there to help, especially during quiet times.

On a related topic, suitcases with wheels are an excuse for women to travel on holiday with enormous suitcases full of unnecessary clothes, so should I help them climb stairs or not...
I'm most surprised that DG finds himself alighting at the 'very far end of the platform.' I always thought our esteemed blogger was the sort of Londoner who would be in the right carriage for his exit every time he travelled.
I'd always offer to help in that scenario. That could be my sister, my wife, my mother or my daughter (if I had any). If others don't feel the same way, that's their problem.
It's interesting that the vast majority of DG's readers, myself included, say that they would help, while in real life almost all Londoners don't. Are readers of this blog a very skewed sample, or is it easier to say theoretically that you'd offer to help than to actually do it? (A bit of both, I reckon.)
I live in West Hampstead and I think the tube station is possibly one of the most 'helpful' that I've been to.

There are a set of around 30 steps from the platform to the street, with people crossing from Overground and Thameslink connections, we get a fair share of pushchairs, suitcases and general accompaniments of longer distance travel that have to stop at the foot of these stairs and have a think about their next move.

I tend to help out anyone who I think will need it, including older people, young parents with pushchairs and even once a faithful dad trying to lug his whole family's heavy suitcases on his own. Often, I'll look and see someone clearly in need of help, with the intention to do so, only to be beaten to it by someone else.

I wonder whether it's worth a straw poll by station?
Walking the length of the platform gives plenty of time to read the body language of the pushchair pusher, to work out whether they're looking for help.
And some cultures would not welcome uninvited help from an unrelated man.
Years ago, when I was a teenager and had flown back from Canada with my grandparents, I had put them in a taxi home with the luggage (and given the taxi driver a good bit of cash for the journey), then headed down to the T4 tube to head into town.

At T1,2,3 an Australian couple joined the train, and had a lot of luggage with them. Over the next few stops, they asked for some help on where best to change and for some general London advice. They were new in town, and were looking on some kind advice. So we got talking. All the way to Hammersmith, where I helped them off the train, and helped them onto the next District Line train. One stop later, I made to get off and change back onto the Piccadilly Line train.

As I moved to get off the train, they thanked me and said they never expected to get such a helpful, kind welcome to London and they hoped that there were more experience like this in their time in town. I was very touched - I didn't do it to be thanked, just because it was easy to do and didn't really take me out of my way.

It saddens me, that people can't spend but not even 1 minute of their time to simply ask "are you alright - can I help?" What does it cost you?

London, this summer, proved that it can be done. It's just a shame that DG proves that less than 2 months on, the good will is gone.
If I see somebody struggling, I instinctively tend to ask if they need help. Most people are usually very grateful and you get that nice glow inside. This even makes up for those few who are dowright rude when I offer assistance.

I suppose it's a bit like holding the door open for somebody following behind me or going in the opposite direction - something I was always bought up to do (along with "give up your seat if another person needs it"). Most people say "thank you", a few will just walk thrugh the held open door and ignore you.

As for buggies on buses. I appreciate that mothers need to take buggies on buses, but buggies are supposed to be folded. Many see it as their god given right to be able to take a large buggy on the bus, unfolded, and often end up blocking other passengers access. I have no sympathy for them.
What is the big deal with helping people out?

I'm no angel but will always help if I see someone struggling with a case, or a pram.

What a depressing yet sadly familiar post.

"And some cultures would not welcome uninvited help from an unrelated man. "

Don't make that assumption. If you can ask they can politely say no if it would offend them.


As others have said, keeping up the genius blogging is enough virtue for one man.
this isn't about helping carry buggies etc, though I used to when I was capable. I always try and be helpful giving directions, a few weeks ago I found an older Spanish (I think) couple who apparently spoke no English, we worked out where they needed to go by sign language and pointing at the wall map, it wasn't even very much out of my way, I took them to their platform and the wife shook my hand. I realised she'd put something in my hand, after they were out of sight I looked...three pound coins!!!
that is NOT why I help people.
Your blog post saddened me today! But I'm encouraged by the number of readers who simply disagree with your outlook.
Miserable bugger you are.

I would expect that most buggies in rush-hour are conveying their occupants to workplace nurseries. Given the length of many commutes, a nursery near home is often impossible to arrange (they don't start early enough or finish late enough). Quite apart from the margin of error you need to allow foer the evening journey to be absolutely sure of getting back in time for pick up time. Having done both the workplavce nusery and the before/after schoolclubs, I know which was the easier to co-ordinate with a full working day.

And yes, I will always offer to help with buggies.
@Claire in Osaka. I find that in reality most Londoners *do* help. I have a double buggy for my two under-two's and often need a hand up the stairs on the underground. I have always been offered help when I needed it (and several times when I did not).
@Claire in Osaka. I find that in reality most Londoners *do* help. I have a double buggy for my two under-two's and often need a hand up the stairs on the underground. I have always been offered help when I needed it (and several times when I did not).

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