Unable to return home for family reunion, railway employee finds happiness in helping others at station

By Li Xiaoyu
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Beijing Review, February 18, 2021
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Lan Xuechun (center behind), a stewardess working at the Beijing Railway Station, escorts passengers to a train on January 29. [Photo by Li Kaizhi]

With "staying local for the Spring Festival" becoming the norm this year, the number of railway passengers has dropped significantly, something Lan Xuechun, a 32-year-old stewardess working at the Beijing Railway Station, has noticed.

Unlike the holiday period in the previous years when the station bustled with travelers, this year it looks quiet. Lan, who wears goggles, a face mask and gloves, told Beijing Review, "I can fully understand what 'sacrificing for others' means." This is also her own situation.

Lan's home is in Baoding, Hebei province in north China. Due to response measures following new novel coronavirus cases in Hebei and Beijing, she has not returned home, where her two children live, for more than two weeks. Her family supports her decision, sacrificing their Spring Festival reunion celebration.

The unit that Lan has been working with since 2010 was set up to serve the elderly, ill, pregnant, differently abled and infant passengers. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Lan has to patrol 14 platforms, to spot those who need assistance and then help them board the train, sometimes in wheelchair, or accompany them to the exit.

As simple as it sounds, the job does bring her unforgettable moments. Several years ago, not long after she joined the job, a girl with leukemia walked slowly into the station, leaning on her mother, after undergoing chemotherapy in a hospital in Beijing. Seeing the pain of the frail girl, Lan helped them board the train. She had forgotten the incident when she received a thank you letter from the mother. She was amazed. "It was the first time I realized my job is also important," she said.

"The time we spend with our colleagues exceeds the time we spend with our families. I feel like I am part of a big family," she said. With less than two weeks left before the Spring Festival, Lan and her colleagues were discussing how to celebrate the holiday together. "Although we can't celebrate the new year with our families, we won't feel lonely. We will be filled with warmth," Lan told Beijing Review.

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