A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog regarding the inability to connect with others. Well? This one will run along a similar vein, if I can find the words but also the realisation of how desensitizing fatigue can be to a point where a life is reduced to simply going through the motions.
Another Saturday morning. He'd done his shift had made it to the bus-stop and just wanted to go home when suddenly, from out of nowhere, a stranger appeared. There was nothing remarkable about the stranger in fact he was struck by how unremarkable the stranger's appearance seemed but he looked agitated. Pacing mumbling in the small confines of the bus-stop shelter.
" Have you got a spare fag mate?"
God how that grates. Like "have you got any spare change?" As if.
Should have seen that coming he thought to himself wryly.
"Don't use 'em." He replied curtly having no time for this person who was clearly no street-dweller. Casually dressed in denims and grey pullover devoid of facial hair he was clearly no downan.
"I gotta have a smoke" he mumbled to himself stooping to retrieve a rain-sodden cigarette-butt. A child staring from the window from a passing car looked aghast as the stranger knelt at the litter-bin, the full length of his arm inside it rifling through god knows what.
"I gotta have a smoke" and with those few words as quickly as the stranger had appeared the stranger disappeared the bus rolled in and he went home not giving what had just occurred another thought.
The next few hours would be played out as predictably as ever. Getting home, drinking coffee and compiling a shopping list whilst waiting for shops to open before leaving home and catching a bus to stugely. All pretty much "same as".
At around ten-thirty, he strolled into Lidl's car park, took a shopping trolley and then, with "pound in slot" he went shopping. It doesn't take him long. He knows what he wants he knows where things are and when he arrived at the checkouts there were queues but it didn't matter too tired to care. When the woman in front of him had finally finished transferring her goods from trolley to conveyor, and man what a load, at one point she owned the conveyor, big shop he thought, then he followed suit and waited. As he waited a young woman stood behind him waiting to unload her stuff. He looked on gazing around the store. She wasn't particularly attractive but not unattractive either, it has to be said and she was wearing a black woolen beanie hat. She wasn't very tall, short black hair, wore clothes that hugged, a much worn white patterned tight fitting cotton T-shirt stretched down below black trousered hips. A real "girl about town" a "metropolitan miss". Made him think of that old "Ghost-busters" cartoon series. The character with the big specs. Yes he looked, with out ogling he hoped and for that he'd make no apology, but he was, he would think, twice her age, and some. This was not about "getting laid". As soon as he was able he handed her one of those plastic dividers that shoppers use to separate their goods from others, she politely thanked him, as one does, and then, eventually, he took his turn at the til, loaded up his back-pack and exited the store. She must have paid for her stuff and over taken him as he'd returned his trolley because as he made his way through the car park he saw her walking towards him with an empty trolley and that was that. Next stop Asda's....
A gentle stroll along a busy High Street with people mingling, he often marvels at how a person can see so much and yet, in reality the conscious mind sees nothing. A never ending ticker-tape of lives being lived and a world passing by. Of time immemorial.
There's no need for a pound Asda's. You just pick up a trolley and go and, as with Lidl's he knew exactly what he wanted and where things could be found but a bus had passed him as he'd walked along the High Street affording him an hour to do what would usually take about twenty minutes to do. He just wanted to be finished there and go home and so, with shopping list written on the back of piece of a discarded cake carton, he went about his business.
Fresh vegetables, Sprouts broccoli rots etc. Next chicken thighs for Sunday lunch, a bottle of pure Orange juice to rouse him from sleep through out the following week steadily wending his way through fellow shoppers and their trolleys and then, as he rounded the end of an aisle, it happened.
A meeting of trolleys, nothing unusual about that of course, he proffered a weak "sorry and a half-hearted smile" barely taking his eyes of his shopping list but as he did so the owner of the on coming trolley laughed, it was her, little miss ghost-buster, the young woman from Lidl's, and what did he do? He just ambled off down one of the aisles. Baked beans, corned beef then and only then did it hit him. If ever there had been an opportunity to converse, to make a connection, with a fellow human, a charming young woman no less, and he'd let it pass. Hell! In his own worn out work-weary dog-eared little world he hadn't even seen it. Going through the motions.
What if she turned up at his chosen checkout as he waited? He wondered. That really would have been too much to contemplate but he needn't have concerned himself with that. She didn't.
How tired can a person get?
As he waited alone for the bus that would take him home an old lady came an sat beside him but he didn't mind. She struck up a conversation with him and he actually didn't mind.
" Has the 38 gone by since you've been here?"
"Yes I'm afraid it has" he told her somewhat apologetically.
She sighed and seemed to be taking it all in stride.
" It would choose today to be on time" he remarked sympathetically. "Have you got long to wait for the next one?"
" No, not really, I haven't got to be anywhere any time soon and the sun is shining."
There was no bitterness in her tone. No moaning about the state of public transport. Just happy to be there.
How refreshing was that?
Life eh? Running on empty. Running on less than empty if you could ever imagine such a thing. He just wanted to go home.