Strictly speaking, the easiest solution to your problems – be it stuck in the infinite 9-to-5 loop of tedious spreadsheets, or making endless lattes for ungrateful suits from sunrise to sundown, or sitting at home all alone in your mid-thirties, drinking boxed wine and wondering why none of these 5-star comedies on Netflix are making you laugh – is to jump in front of a speeding train. Boom. End of the line, end of all your problems.
It would be an inconvenience though.
People are going to be late to work; the train driver will be traumatized and resign three months later despite exhaustive counselling, because the image of a desiccated torso with its guts hanging out on the fog lights isn’t going to go away, ever; and not to mention the agony of that one family member that really cares about you, even though you call them about once a month and had refused to pay for the tow truck when their car’s radiator blew out.
Not cool to be an inconvenience to others when they’ve got their own stuff going on.
Much easier to go about it quietly: chug down that mouth-wash with DO NOT DRINK printed on the back in tiny orange letters, or lock yourself in your shitty Toyota made in the Cretaceous and pipe in the exhaust fumes. Gulp it down, breathe it in. Easy, isn’t it? No. Not at all. It takes several minutes to swallow the green stuff, and several hours before the carbon monoxide even ticks above point-one-percent (those crime thrillers can’t be lying!). Too much thinking during those long minutes. Too many second thoughts. With the train all you have to do is close your eyes and jump.
Lo and behold, the Toyota isn’t starting because you don’t have enough money to fill the tank this week, so you call up the suicide prevention hotline to pass the time – just to see what the gig is about, maybe pay a compliment or two, thank them for what they do, etcetera – and twenty seconds into the call you realize that the lovely lady on the other end of the line is just as stressed as you are, because this is her seventh call today, and she’s already past her emotional limit, but she has to keep answering if she wants to keep the job.
So you hang up, have a sad little laugh, and cynically reminisce that empathy is but a commodity in the modern world, bought and sold by those who think giving money or paying attention is the same thing. It’s not that no one cares, it’s that everyone feels the same as you: hiding in the bathroom at a work function, wanting to jump off the nearest bridge after a failed interview, putting up the three thousandth bottle of Gatorade in the BEVERAGES aisle, slamming head against wall after yelling at the kids, too afraid to go to the doctor for the second checkup, when the results would come out on those neat machine-collated sheets…
This stuff is the same for everyone. Some deal with it better than others, but the consequence is the same: no one wants to give a shit when their own plates are full. Their different-sized, different-coloured, different-volume plates.
If this is the case, might as well just kill yourself. No one cares.
But you do.
Because you have a wish:
You wish that the guy in the ten-thousand-dollar suit who ordered a latte, instead of yelling at you because he actually wanted soy milk, he would laugh about it instead; you wish that when the boss told you that he had to let you go – because you put the numbers in the wrong column and messed up two months’ worth of calculations – he could’ve let you cry a bit in his office and given you a hastily-typed letter of recommendation instead of holding the door open; you wish that when you casually brought out your new copy of 101 Ways To Commit Suicide to show a friend, that the friend, instead of laughing at it then putting it aside in order to keep talking about the bad day he’s had, he would flip it open and laugh aloud at the bit about the Toyota, telling you that you shouldn’t try that, nobody would want to die looking that stupid.
It’s subtle, this wish: it is not a demand for millions of dollars; it doesn’t ask for a change to your daily routine; it doesn’t even need you to be nice. But it is the difference between “another shitty day, better kill myself” and “another shitty day, better get this over with.”
So what now?
The train’s still coming. Still going to jump? Probably. But wouldn’t it be better if a middle-aged woman in a black corporate suit, with her hair done up perfectly in accordance to company guidelines but had forgotten to clean out the wine stain on the collar of her shirt before coming into the office, happened to be passing by and pulled you back? Wouldn’t it be good if she, instead of asking the always-safe, always-pointless “are you alright”, says “That’s my train home. Please let me get drunk tonight without feeling like shit”?
Turn the scenario around. You’re the woman. What will you do when you see someone, hands in pockets, bag over shoulder, casually walk into the oncoming train?
You might think: “I wish I’m doing something to help.”
No. Don’t just wish. Go.
This is the reason why you are still alive: to make your wish come true.