I seem to attract a certain kind of person when out in public, on public transport and just generally in my life. I can accept that maybe there’s something about me which attracts these people, although I’m often left wondering, why me?
I know I can’t be the only one, so decided, as a writer, to write about some of my experiences. Some people may be able to relate, while others can just laugh at my expense (it’s okay, I don’t mind.) So where do I start there’s so many. One awkward experience comes to mind.
While on a coach a few years ago, I was sat by the window, when a man who must have been in his forties sat next to me. She smiled, said hello, I said hello back, to be polite. Then the hour long journey began and the man took off his shoes. Okay, so may his feet were hurting, then he took off his socks, not really okay. The smell drifted up to me and it wasn’t like I could move seats. He had blocked me in.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, he rest one foot on his knee, turned to me and said, ‘bloody blisters again.’
I tried to give him my best sympathetic look, then turned away, pretending to be fascinated by the row of buildings we were passing.
‘Look at that,’ he told me.
‘I turned look at his blisters for the minimum time I feel I can get away with, then turn back to looking out of the window. All I could do was try to look interested, nod and make the appropriate “hmm” and “aargh” sounds whenever he frequently complained to me about his blisters for the next hour or so. I had bought a sandwich with me, to eat on the journey. That went in the bin as soon as I got off the coach. I just wasn’t hungry anymore.
I could fill pages with the kind of people who sit next to me on public transport, but I won’t bore you that many stories. I sometimes have someone from work sit next to me on the bus, when he finishes work at the same time as me, sparing me from having a weird and wacky person sitting next to me, but that’s not always possible. Just yesterday, I left work earlier and decided I wasn’t in the mood for another strange experience. So, I made sure I occupied two seats to myself, in a way that nobody could sit next to me. Someone sat in front of me instead, a man who was watching something on his phone. He kept laughing. I assumed he was watching something funny, but he kept turning to me, then started trying to show me whatever it was. As far as I could tell it looked like some kind of CCTV footage (who watches CCTV footage on their phone?) but it was just a person, possibly a woman, walking down a street. There didn’t appear to be anything vaguely amusing about it, but I tried to smiling politely at laughing man, who found the footage hysterical. Even if there was something I was missing, why was this man, who I’ve never seen before, showing me something on his phone?
The third and final experience that I’ll share with you (for now) is an embarrassing date I once went on, as my weirdo magnet isn’t limited to just public transport. I agreed to go on a date with another writer. I thought we would at least have that in common, as something to talk about. He started telling me about the book he had just finished writing, a war story, not really my kind of thing, but that wasn’t the strange part. He stood up (in the crowded pub) and began reading out the final chapter, complete with all the over the top British accents. The last scene was certainly the most dramatic. The main character was shot dead. I know this, because my date announced he had been shot, clutched his chest, then threw himself onto the not so clean carpeted floor. I looked around, as my face turned into the likeness of a tomato. The people at the other tables were looking and some were sniggering, while others weren’t been so discreet about it.
‘That sounds like a good book,’ I said to my date, who was still lying on the floor, because what else could I say? He didn’t respond. He was still there when I finally left ten minutes later. For all I know, he might still be there, as a permanent fixture in the pub floor, with customers told to walk around him to get to the bar, but nobody quite remembering how long he’s being there or why.