A blind man was left in tears when rude commuters refused to give up their seats in the designated disability priority area for him and his guide dog.
37-year-old Amit Patel felt ‘humiliated’ when no one moved to free up a seat for him on a Southeastern train despite seeing he was struggling to find something to hold on to.
Since he became blind five years ago after developing a haemorrhage behind his eyes, Amit admits this is a ‘daily occurrence’.
Who would’ve believed that one day this mischievous puppy would turn out to be one amazing #GuideDog! I’m a very lucky man to have Kika as my guardian angel ??#NationalPuppyDay @Kika_GuideDog @guidedogs @GuidedogsLondon @GDogsRedbridge @RoslynWakelin @BeccaGamble1 @tomjessie1 pic.twitter.com/3pfxYrxgTI
— Amit Patel (@BlindDad_Uk) March 23, 2018
Taking to Twitter to share his experience, Amit heartbreakingly wrote:
People can be so selfish, they pretend they can’t see or hear when I ask if there’s a seat available.
It’s so humiliating when I struggle to find something to hold onto and keep Kika safe at the same time.
This is when you’ll see a tear running down my face. Life is difficult enough.
People can be so selfish, they pretend they can’t see or hear when I ask if there’s a seat available. Its so humiliating when I struggle to find something to hold onto & keep Kika safe at the same time, this is when you’ll see a tear running down my face. Life is difficult enough https://t.co/HMqGeJqRmh
— Amit Patel (@BlindDad_Uk) March 28, 2018
Amit had commanded his loyal and adorable guide dog Kika to find him a seat but she was unable to as commuters refused to help out.
While he was forced to stand squashed against the doors, Kika had to sit on the wet floor in the middle of the carriage.
Tweeting from his guide dog’s Twitter account, Amit described the situation:
We walked to the end of the platform in the pouring rain so that we can board the designated disabled section on the Southeastern Railway train and even with dad giving me the command ‘find a seat’ not one passenger gave up their seat!
Dad had to stand with his back against the doors whilst trying not to slip and I was sliding all over the place as the floor was wet. Have some humanity people!
We walked to the end of the platform in the pouring rain so that we can board the designated disabled section on the @Se_Railway train & even with dad giving me the command “find a seat” not one passenger gave up their seat! ???@GuidedogsLondon @guidedogs @transportforall pic.twitter.com/MHl0xtw6fU
— Kika ?? (@Kika_GuideDog) March 27, 2018
Both the tweets from Amit’s account and his guide dog’s went viral as people were disgusted at the commuters’ rudeness.
Surely not all those people sitting down were classed as disabled?!
Terrible behaviour of some people, I would’ve given up my seat
— Deb (@moomadeb) March 27, 2018
Awful awful!! I have invisible disability. So many may have had such too. BUT. No way an entire coach etc is full of disabled people. Plus I'd have stood for someone on crutches etc. Even with my own issues. When have issues u empathise more i feel. Coz u know what it truly like
— Louise / WeeWifie1981 (@WeeWifie1981) March 28, 2018
I'm so sorry that you coldn't get seat and had to be on slippery floor.
I was in disabled seat on train and got up to give to blind chap – common courtesy. others left me standing the hour and half home despite being on sticks and having a pref pass. people are awful.
— Spaniels Rule (@sgrenyer21) March 27, 2018
Overwhelmed by the support he received on social media, Amit thanked everyone in a tweet.
Thank you all for you kind messages. Unfortunately being ignored when asking for a seat is a daily occurrence for us.
I was very upset yesterday as the floor on the train was slippery, Kika kept sliding and she was obviously distressed. She looks after me everyday and I felt useless.
One small act of kindness could have turned this situation around completely.
Thank you all for you kind messages unfortunately being ignored when asking for a seat is a daily occurrence for us. I was very upset yesterday as the floor on the train was slippery, Kika kept sliding & she was obviously distressed. She looks after me everyday & I felt useless.
— Amit Patel (@BlindDad_Uk) March 28, 2018
In a statement provided to The Mirror, Southeastern Railways responded to the incident.
A spokesman said:
We would hope that people use their judgement and give up seats to passengers who may have a greater need, and we’re sorry to hear that Mr Patel experienced an awkward journey on this occasion.
We’re already rolling out clearer priority seat signage on the trains that don’t already have it to make it more visible.
As well as priority seats, we offer priority seating cards and priority seat badges that our passengers can show to another passenger sitting in a priority seat, without causing a fuss or having to explain themselves.
At the end of the day though, people should just show some more kindness.
To find out more about Guide Dogs you can visit The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association website.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.