The man who kept a journal

Lausanne Train Station - Going NEutral

As you will likely discover if you happen upon this pocket of cyberspace more than once, I am increasingly becoming un homme des trains.

It only took me a year of driving an hour each way to work, early in the morning, through rolling countryside and mountain tunnels, to realise that if I continued one of two things would happen. I would either doze off at the wheel and plough into a jaw-droppingly picturesque Swiss ravine, or the number of speeding tickets I received from stern-faced cantonal coppers would render this form of transport economically unviable.

Thus the inspired decision last year to invest in a 3300 Swiss franc Abonnement Generale (a rail pass to you and me) and what seems like at least half a life spent riding the rails. A hobo with a laptop maybe, but all the more relaxed and productive as a result.

All of which I proffer simply to be able to begin with the line, “So, I was on my way to catch the train yesterday when…”

I spied an occurrence of such bizzarity, such innate goodness, such, well, Swissness, that I had to review it several times afterwards in my mind to confirm that what I’d seen was correct. Hold onto your hat…

At the entrance of Lausanne train station, a man placed a free newspaper back in the dispenser.

Earth shattering isn’t it?

Now, I don’t mean he picked it up off the floor in a bid to tidy up the place. That would be, around here at least, pretty normal.

Nor do I mean to suggest that in his haste to make the train he accidentally nudged a Vingt Minutes off its pile and was instantly driven to reaction by his guilt. Again, that would rather be par for the course.

I mean this: having arrived at the Gare de Lausanne, he walked down the steps of his platform, paper in hand, out to the station’s entrance and then delicately slotted his now-finished dose of Paris Hilton pictures and local weather back into the nearest rag dispenser for another news-hungry commuter to digest.

Imagine! Who does that? And why?

It’s astoundingly considerate. A little over the top even. Quite possibly a worrying precursor of obsessive compulsive disorder (just imagine how long it takes him to get out of his maison in the morning!).

I smirked about this behaviour all the way to Morat, some 75 minutes away, running it through my mind while trying to get inside his. And all the while wondering whether through breathing the same air and nibbling the same cheese as said commuter I would ever perhaps morph into a similarly conscientious member of society (rather than, as now, merely grunting my way around Suisse Romande, dropping a trail of pain au chocolate crumbs as I go).

The jury’s out on that one.

But until it returns… have you finished with that?