This morning on my commute into work – whilst plugged into my iPod staring out of the window as the city stirs to life – a little boy and a man I assume is his father catch my attention.
They are seated two rows in front of me. The boy cannot be more than five by my reckoning, especially because he is dressed in the navy blue jumper that the school down the road from my stop uses for a uniform. The man has his arm around the boy who rests his head on his side. From where I am sat, I can hear them conversing in low tones. I am not close enough to make out what they are saying but in that moment I allow my mind roam.
I remember once – long ago – when I might have been that kid looking up to his father, doing life together in public oblivious of third parties looking on. Sadly, it has been more than a few years now since he and I have shared any form of emotional connections.
At the penultimate stop, the kid and his father alight from the bus. The father carries his son in one hand and lugs his briefcase and a lunch box in the other. I am left with a dull ache – a longing for days that may never return.
Amidst the madness – sometimes controlled but largely tottering on the edge of spontaneous combustion – that has marked the last couple of months, it has become increasingly difficult to meet up with what few friends I have left in town. This week has been typical; planning a plant turnaround, updating the 2012 business plan and hosting a couple of blokes from Corporate HQ concurrently have combined to make this another one of those long arduous weeks. Leaving the office late for the umpteenth time, on a whim I decide to make a pit stop at the Nando’s next door. It appears fairly deserted for a Thursday evening. Usually the family friendly spaces are crowded on a Thursday evening – so it is strange that I find a seat without so much as a wait.
I get a seat in an open portion of the building facing outward unto Union Square, grab a glass of coke and proceed to wait for my extra hot peri-peri chicken and fries to arrive. Given the relative emptiness of the floor, I assume it will be routinely quick. Two glasses of coke and twenty-something minutes later I am still waiting – leaving me to inwardly debate the wisdom of my stopping by.
My miserable evening is saved when I catch sight of three blokes I know – two from Grad School and one from church. They get a seat next to mine, and after they place their orders, we swap stories about work, life in general and other random things. Eventually after about forty minutes (by my reckoning), my food arrives. Theirs follows soon after and we all tuck into it with gusto. Like a bunch of happy blokes having a great night out together we make small talk as we wolf down chicken pieces with cokes and orange juice.
The unintended meet up is a silver lining in an otherwise infuriating experience – something to be thankful for after all.
… when after finally finding a seat on the packed bus, some odd smell hits your nostrils like a Mike Tyson left hook. It is an odd mix of stale sweat, putrid urine and beer. You look around, wondering what the source might be. When the portly gentleman seated right next to you moves, a fresh salvo assaults your nostrils identifying him as the culprit. Unfortunately, the next stop is a full fifteen minutes away, so you are stuck with ‘savouring’ the smells.
You would think that people would take a bath before jumping on a bus early in the morning. One more reason to avoid public transport on a Sunday morning…. Sigh.