Friday, October 2, 2009

Post 297even - The Day Off, and the people who don't matter



My days off from work are generally dream like and unproductive. My floor in my house somewhat of an end of decade paeon to indecision and sloth, my start of decade dreams of marrying a gymnast and hosting a wacky radio show slowed down by inactivity and fret. In the middle of my fret though, I've woken up 1/2lf way through the day, inside a lift, with only the vaguest idea of what I'm doing wandering around Kingston at midday with just a single mans tub of ice-cream and a Patrick Swayze book for company. It won't be long before I'm in Subway being patronised by a 16teen year old for not knowing specific types of bread - a real Coles flashback if ever there was 1ne - but for now, I'm lost in my own thoughts. My fret is broken by a small wrinkly woman in glasses and a Millers pink pullover who decides to engage me and the bald and beardy man next to me in a bit of Kingston used to be all fields conversation. She doesn't take a pause for breath, illuminating the dim glow of the lift with a steady stream of local facts that seem to suggest Kingston was 1nce comprised of 3hree sticks and a hut until about 1989until I'm pretty sure I should have taken the escalator. The bald beardy man cops the brunt of the education, since he made the rookie mistake of nodding and seeming vaguely interested. I'm only option B in the lift, and by the time I realise that the lady is omitting certain odours that you should only associate with porky canines and new born babies, I'm glad of the respite the air conditioning of an alien Big W not set out to my usual specifications brings me. I often wonder about these lost rambling people seeking the daily lift based companionship of strangers just to survive, accumulating enough interesting facts to pass the time of day without ever having to converse on anything with depth or meaning. So says a boy wandering around Kingston pointlessly with a book waiting for the guy smoking outside Balls N Bumpers to get off his cell phone and open up so I can pick through cheap tat with damaged stains...frankly mucking around in a lift sounds like a ball of laughs...

At some point around the start of this decade, Dad used to pick up by the side of the road this teacher friend of his and give him a lift into town. Not unlike my Dad, he was a bearded man with a briefcase and he was really greatful every time my Dad would pick him up. He did have to contend with a malcontented where is my life going passenger in the back - that would of course be me - who would hate picking this particular stranger up because it meant the radio went off, and I would sit sulking with my arms folded, the very definition of tension just because I was denied listening to the latest Something For Kate song. I had just started working in what was ominously known as the real world, I had lost my girlfriend, I was living at home and the last thing I needed in my life was a transient every 3hrd week stranger depriving me of music knowledge while talking about the trouble with supply teaching. Oh was that a bane of his existence. I don't he ever noticed that I was projecting my best and most wicked hate vibes his way though, because he usually talking about teacher stuff to my Dad, until melancholic and windy Wednesday morning when he seemed unusually agitated and strung out. His tie was the 1ne side like Gourock, his eyes were big and black, even his beard seemed sad and unkempt, and he sat quietly in the front, until he launched a Rainmanesque style dissertation on the numerology of just what the numbers of letterboxes meant and how their styles had changed over the years. This went on for 5ive minutes, at which point my Dad decided to do the only thing a true born in the UK man could do in times of uncomfortable mutual male anxiety...he put on the radio and sat in silence for the rest of the journey. I've never been so relieved in all my life to hear Stereophonics, and I suspect I never will be...

We only picked him up 1nce after that. To be honest, we only ever saw him 1nce after that. His son was with him, a typically Aryan teenage surfer boy with focused non blinking eyes you see loping up and down the streets of unfulfilled potential in later life. While the physical distance between the 2wo as they stood together at the bus stop was significant, it wasn't anything different to how my Dad and I would non verbally communicate if we didn't have sport to talk about, I couldn't help but notice how disgusted the boy was to have to accept the generous offer of transportation. I was in the middle of my triangle years where I had no friends so I remember thinking Dad was going to buddy me up with this surly kid in the spirit of mutual father hatred - I was already perilously close to having to go to a cult like church to watch an inspirational video and pick up an arranged wife if my neighbour had anything to do with it - but luckily I had a walkman on hand to block out the family tension. Rainman tried a couple of times to break the silence with his 1ne man show on why staff rooms don't have good kettles - it really needed a Reiseresque what's the deal with that at the end - and by the time he got to the end of his little sermon, we pulled up neatly and accurately in Harrington Street to set them kerbside. As far as I know, they are both still there. Forever. Having a massive argument like they did on that day, the boy abusive and loud, the Dad slumped and hunched and nervously picking at his tie. my Dad trying to pretend everything was fine and nothing was happening and that he'd taken in some interesting facts about letterboxes from his friend, and me, newly moved to the front seat, and me happily fiddling with the radio to try and find some amusing slightly left wing quips on Triple J. If I was disturbed at the camp flouncy way the boy went off into traffic to try and get a Chiko Roll and left his Dad to seemingly be talking to himself or a passing cloud, well, it was nothing some Lemon Jelly over the radio wouldn't fix...

If I wonder about the fate of those left behind and condemned to wander the streets muttering or talking to strangers, it's only a fleeting thought. The smoking man finally opens up Balls N Bumpers and lets me peruse his mediocre goods, a Melbourne Victory top ripped apart here or a fading James Hird poster there, and soon I've spilled out into the fading sunshine and am on my way home. I couldn't handle the triple threat sales pressure in Sportsco no matter how blonde the girls hair was or how white her teeth. I've got Intastella on my IPOD to pass some time, the remnants of a bought under sufferance Subway sandwich in my bag and a million stories around me blocked out by music and general fretting. There's a dark brown police car hovering off to the side in the bushes, a kid bouncing a ball off the path and pointing it out to his friends, and an old war vet pushing himself along in a red cart type vehicle, legless in the bad sense of the word but suited and hatted and smiling as best he can. He stops his wagon to talk to the large orange clad lollipop lady that I hate, the self important 1ne who waves her stop sign regally in my cars face every morning. They exchange greetings that instantly humanise her, and exchange jokes and laughs that I will never fully understand, until a Red Mazda comes along and she leaps out to block his path, the Red Mazda driver angrily and impatiently tooting his horn and shaking his gold ring covered fist in her direction as a pale and wan ginger child strides blamelessly and apologetically across the road. Within an instant, all 4our of them who share this moment are gone. The ginger child sprints off to his surprisingly hot girlfriend, the lollipop lady vanishes for a smoke, the car screeches off round the bend and the cart is gone mysteriously to some unknown location. I know nothing about these people, but there they all were, joined with me for an instant in a frozen meaningless moment of time, and then gone again without any fuss, leaving me to walk home, selfishly cursing the fact that I don't have a nice cart to take myself home in, but with an entire day to fill, on the road to the new decade...

I promptly waste that day writing endlessly and watching Youtube clips...but that's another story...

7 comments:

Baino said...

Ships in the night, or in your case during the day. Just think though, without the people who don't matter, you'd hardly have a post! I share your condemnation of lollipop ladies . . I have to drive through about six school zones on the way to work.

Miles McClagan said...

This 1ne is really smug...she wields her power so much...and you are right...but without her, I'd have little to write about except "Airline Peanuts, what's up with that!"...

Kath Lockett said...

"Rainman tried a couple of times to break the silence with his 1ne man show on why staff rooms don't have good kettles"

My Dad was a teacher, and this post makes me so glad that he only ever had ME as a passenger in his dark purple 1958-model Morris Minor in 1985!

Miles McClagan said...

Oh it was just awful, it really was...

The mutual banter of 2wo teachers about limited staff room supplies is a terrifying thing...

G said...

I can truly sympathize about the teachers, having put up with my late fathers ramblings about college/university students, budgetary issues, staffing issues, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Miladysa said...

I always seem to get into conversation with people like the little old lady in the lift. It's almost as if I have a beacon over my head which welcomes them.

There but for the grace of God...

Miles McClagan said...

My Dad should teach rambling for a living - I was horrified after I posted that post for him to ring me up and say his office didn't have a kettle! Can you imagine!

I'm the beacon for the "where is this place" crew...like I know! I have to shrug!