From ‘Unsafe to sew on train’, 19 Nov 2015, ST Forum
(Tan Lay Hoon): Recently, I came across a young woman working on a piece of cross-stitch embroidery inside an SMRT train. She sat forward with a gap between her and the back of her seat, perhaps to facilitate the flow of her needlework movements.
The embroidery floss running through the needle was about 45cm long. I suggested to the woman that it could be dangerous to sew inside the confines of a moving MRT train. She replied that she had been sewing while riding in MRT trains for a long time and returned to her task. There were commuters seated on both sides of her.
While the train was relatively empty during the off-peak hour, sewing is not a safe activity to pursue inside a train that is travelling. At times, MRT trains lurch when moving or halting. If the woman is pulling the needle in an upward movement and is caught unexpectedly by a sudden staggering of the train, an involuntary jerk of the hand holding the needle may cause the needle to jab at a fellow commuter sitting or standing close by.
There will be very serious consequences if the needle impales an eye or other body part of a nearby commuter who could not move away in time. How can the injured commuter seek recourse?
If the SMRT’s regulations do not permit sewing inside MRT trains in operation, what is the appropriate action that a concerned fellow commuter can take in such a situation? By the way, what circumstances warrant an activation of the emergency communication button?
Thanks to this civic-minded writer, SMRT security will now have more things to check other than bulky haversacks suspected to carry bombs. Needles are notoriously difficult to search, let alone parangs. You could secrete them in your back pocket, your coin pouch or even pin them in your underwear. But maybe it’s not just needles but other deceptively harmless things with a pointy end that need to be looked into. With all the sudden jerking and staggering going on in the train, your vital organs could be impaled not just by cross-stitch instruments but pens, chopsticks, or the edge of a hardcover book. No wonder durians are banned. Recently I had some guy sketching with a pencil behind me. I was praying so hard the train didn’t jerk otherwise the nib would have penetrated my medulla oblongata.
If you are a chronic worrier practically anything could bring you to an early grave, not just sharp objects. Someone nodding away while sleeping could unwittingly cause head concussions. You may be a hit-and-run victim of that uncle on the motorised wheelchair. If you’re the extreme type who are especially good at estimating the length of sewing thread, even staying at home and avoiding the crowds could also be hazardous. You could fall off your bed and die, for instance.
I can imagine Tan Lay Hoon’s reaction if she ever saw someone wearing this massacre waiting to happen on the train below. Imagine the train braking to a screaming halt and this person careening into unsuspecting passengers. A total bloodbath. The world would send us condolences for this horrific accident. #prayformrt
You can’t activate the emergency button willy-nilly, of course, and SMRT has guidelines against inciting unnecessary panic and wasting everyone’s time. If you ever push the panic button in the event of an impending needly holocaust, but not a single person is harmed by wayward cross-stitching, then slapping a fine on you is duly justified. The only thing being pricked then is your conscience.