Running late to work today (which is becoming an increasingly frequent occurrence, but that’s a whole ‘nother story), so I had to take a bus from Wembley Stadium to finish off my journey to the office.
There was a man sitting at the bus stop drinking from a can of strong cider. At nine in the morning. He had his dog on a leash, and he didn’t look like he was waiting for a bus. He just felt like sitting at a bus stop at nine in the morning drinking strong cider.
And then he started talking to me. Usually, I would recoil from having a chat with a strange early morning boozer at a bus stop, but I was feeling pretty good this morning, so we got chatting. And we talked about his job and his dog and Diwali and traffic and politics, whilst cars churned past slowly in the background and the leaves of autumn coated the pavement at our feet like a second skin.
It was the best conversation I’ve had with anyone all week. There were no pretences, no-one working an angle, no-one was trying to get something out of someone. No bullshit of any kind. It was just refreshingly open and engaging and honest and, well, it was great.
And if I had thought about it for even a second before talking to the man, I probably wouldn’t have even got involved. I would have just retreated into the cocoon of my iPod, shutting out the man and his words.
I should know better, really. People who don’t know me always tend to find me intimidating and give me a wide berth. I dress predominantly in black, I’m 6 foot 3, I tend to shave only once a week, I give off very strong “fuck off” vibes, and I don’t talk for the sake of talking. I only talk if I’ve got something to say, which often makes people think I’m aloof and arrogant. I don’t think I’m either. I’m just not one of those people who witter on endlessly for the sake of filling the air with noise.
Eventually the bus arrived, and I bid the stranger goodbye. Seconds later, I was back in my bubble, my headphones sealing me off from the crowds of people, some old-school Digital Underground piped directly into my brainpan.
And now I’ll sit in almost complete silence until 5.30 tonight when the sky will be black again, as my colleagues avoid the surly, arrogant, scary dude in the corner.