Life moments

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.


Thankful… for unintended meet ups

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.

That Awkward Moment

… 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.

Reasons Not To Be On Bus 16: #1 – Drunk American Tourists

I lug my knapsack, and join the queue at the bus stop. It is one of those really cold days, made worse because the day before was on the other side of warm and I am not properly dressed for the weather – that, and the howling wind. There is a little queue building up – roadworks have meant that the bus is operating a slightly lighter schedule. A man walks up to me wearing a kilt and holding bag pipes. He seems to be in his late thirties or early forties and there is the ubiquitous whiff of alcohol on his breath – and a few weeks old stubble on his chin with a smattering of grey. I increase the volume a little more on my iPod to stave off the inevitable inane banter. He doesn’t seem impressed. He shifts from one foot to the other making wheezing noises all the time.

– Its cold today, he says. I mumble something about it being typical for March.

– Are you Nigerian? he asks. Yes, I reply – attempting to keep my engagement to an absolute minimum.

– Aha, he says. You look like a Nigerian.

I wonder if it is my rather large forehead, or the week old stubble on my chin that convinces him of my ‘Nigerianess’.

– I am Scottish, he continues. Originally from Scotland but my family migrated to Georgia in the 19th century. I mumble something along the lines of how cool it is to be tracing his roots down.

– I’m spending a year out here, travelling in Scotland, learning about my family roots.

With the way he brings it up, you would think it is the culmination of his life’s essence to rediscover his roots. There is a lull of a couple of minutes where we do not speak, and other fellow commuters cast furtive glances in his direction.

– What other coloured peoples are there in this city? he asks. I reply that I do not know. I know a few Kenyas, met a couple of Ghanaians a few days back and all I say.

– Aye, he says. Most of the Nigerians I’ve met haven’t been very friendly people he adds, right out of the blue but in keeping with the ad-lib nature of our discussion so far.

Maybe it is the disinterested look I show to this last comment but he quickly adds that I’ve been quite engaging. I really am not in the mood to engage a total stranger on the dangers of steretyping, or how I think his attempt to relearn Scottishness is dumb. All I want to do is get home and sleep, a discussion on Scottishness isn’t up my alley at that time. 8.30pm on a Friday Night is the wrong time to attempt to strike up a conversation with a bloke who’s just left work.