His weekly routine is set in stone so to speak and he might complain that at any given time in the near future he can confidently predict what he'll be doing, where and why. Work and sleep times five. The sixth day shopping. Seventh day resting then repeat. That's hardly cause for complaint, depending on how we each of us see things, it is what it is.
And so it was, for the umpteenth time, on what was just another Saturday morning, after having worked a Friday night shift and dozing off on the bus going home then receiving a welcome wake-up call from the friendly female bus-driver, making the short walk from bus-stop to house the "old" part of town, he kicks off those damned boots, to be replaced by a pair of comfy shoes, sits and rests for a few minutes enjoying a cup of hot strong tea whilst putting together a shopping-list from scribblings gathered from the previous week, before heading out on the next bus to Stugely. Lidl and Asda here we come.
He writes his lists but by the time he gets to Lidl's he has a pretty good idea of what he wants, where they are and he doesn't dawdle. Talk about "Sparrow's wedding", he's usually, makes every attempt to be, in out and away. Sure there can be hold-ups and with age he has become more tolerant of people ambling down shopping aisles two abreast perusing offers of the day blissfully unaware of shoppers wanting to "get on with it and go home" and causing him to come to an abrupt halt. He takes it all in his stride now but it was at one of these interruptions to his day the strangest thing occurred.
As he walked down the aisle between cheap gardening tools and fresh fruit he came upon two shoppers, their trolleys one on either side , leaving barely enough room for one to pass between them and an elderly woman, who was he to call anybody "elderly" ? He's in his sixties for God's sake, she was probably, in his estimation, well north of mid-fifties, was approaching from the other direction.
She saw him and took a step back, as any polite person might, but as she did so he reciprocated with a sweeping movement of his left arm insisting that she should go first and then the strangest thing happened, maybe not so strange, she threw back her head and almost skipped through the narrow gap like some giddy adolescent.
"I've seen you nipping round" she said as she drew level with him smiling from ear to ear. She wore an ankle length skirt and he was struck by her easy, what he could only interpret as a hippy happy flower powered mother type but she obviously wasn't a flower child of the sixties.
Had she indeed ?
He simply smiled at her and then went about his business as though it had never happened. He'd been fazed like a rabbit caught in the headlamps of a car in the night darkness, didn't know how to respond, and now, with the benefit of hindsight and a night's sleep he regrets that and he wonders if she's wondering to. It was only when he finally got home and had rested that he gave the matter any thought.
She had seen him? What did she mean by that? Was she, had she been looking at him from a distance? Would she be watching out for him now? He wondered. What did it all mean? Nothing probably. Just one cheerful human being interacting, or rather attempting to interact, with another. What if she's there next week? What if she sees him and what if they, he and she, make eye-contact? This has clearly got him rattled. He doesn't know how to deal with this. Just smile and try not to offend he tells himself. He will probably have forgotten about by next weekend anyway. He'll turn up at Lidl's next week at that will be that. Silly old bugger.
The trouble is that it's so easy for him to imagine that, because he is so tired simply going through the motions, running on empty and just wanting to go home, if he sees no one, no one sees him. A clear case of head firmly in the sand and much ado about nothing.