Friday, 17 June 2011

Truth and consequences

Real life has a habit of biting you on the bum.  I remember when I was a teenager working in a Petrol (Gas) Station and a guy came in to buy a car-wash token.  I punched the amount into the till and gave him the token "That's 60p please." I said  (Yes it was that long ago)
"60p!" He exclaimed. "Last time it was 50p, I'm not paying that."
"But I've put it through the till now." I said, he said he didn't care and threw the token back at me and walked toward the door.  As he was leaving I muttered under my breath 'you bad tempered bastard.'

I have to say that I wasn't even aware of him walking back, but after he punched me in the face, knocked me clean off the stool I was sitting on, I realised he must have heard me.  Well that was a consequence.

When you're in a cosy little radio studio, it's easy to forget the consequences of your actions.  John Gaunt came a cropper in 2008 when he accused a local councillor of being a Nazi.  There were consequences, he lost his job and today's High Court ruling over freedom of expression.

But there are times when the consequence comes knocking at your door.  And here is a story I am still quite ashamed of.  Some years ago on one of my many commutes home, somebody decided to throw themselves in front of a train at Shenfield railway station.  In the event I wasn't much inconvenienced but all the same claimed a full hour delay, the voucher for £5 duly arrived and I thought nothing more of it.

Three weeks later taking calls on the Anna Raeburn Agony Aunt Show I answered a call from a Police Surgeon, he told me he wanted to speak to Anna and said although he was used to dealing with death he had found it impossible to come to terms with the recent death of his son who had somehow fallen in front of a train at Shenfield station three weeks ago. It was at that point he started to cry.

You can imagine how mean and small I felt, that my tribute to his dead son was to con £5 off the railway company.  You see everything in life has consequences, just ask John Gaunt.

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