#NaPoWriMo18: Day 19

After the sun, for the Day 19 prompt.

A lone man stands in front of the bus shelter, his bag slung across his shoulder, hands stuck deep in his pockets, staring out towards the square, at the space where the bus should be.

Behind him, four bicycles lie in various states of harness. Before him, the square lies suffused with light. The calm, strange for this time of the day, is broken when as though dumped from an arriving train, a flood of people begins to traverse the square. After that comes the rain, after which it becomes clear that the quiet that came before was only the calm before the storm.

Alone, his
bag slung across his shoulder
he stares.

The square lies
suffused with light. Calm, strange day.
Then the rain.

21. Routine


Two mornings during a typical work week, I make a pit stop at the Starbucks in Union Square.

Over the course of the last year, it has become apparent that quite a few people have a similar routine. I now recognise — and share the odd nod with — an older gentleman who usually arrives at the same time I do and unfailingly buys an espresso machiato which he proceeds to nurse for all of thirty minutes before shooting off to what I assume must be work.

On most days, three young gents also make an appearance, often laughing as they arrive then ordering a mix of venti lattes and then having a natter. I imagine they work around the corner from Union Square; they fit the profile of young, upwardly mobile Engineering-affiliated folk.

A mix of characters makes an appearance now and again, folk nursing drinks whilst waiting to catch a train from the station next door or others killing time before meetings I assume. On my part, I am usually nursing a large black americano in a to-go cup, the to-go cup allowing me the flexibility to leave when I feel like I have arrived at my optimum state.

I’d like to think that these morning pitstops are my little rage against the machine of work, a small ritual of cleansing that allows me get some me time for catching my breath and clearing my head before popping into the hurly-burly of work.

A routine, or a ritual? Is there even a distinction between both? I suspect I couldn’t care less, all that matters to me is that I arrive at work clear headed, ready to face whatever it is gets thrown in my direction on the day.

Of Hair and Odd Conversations

STP18
Image Source: Dionysius Burton, Flickr

As far as dubious honours go, being asked what part of The States I am from in Union Square has to come near the top of my list; not least because it is unclear what prompted the fairly ancient gentleman to tap my arm and initiate the conversation in the first place. On reflection, my friend A., or more correctly her hair, must have had some input, if his eyes which never left her face had anything to do with it.

I had been standing, back to the milling crowd, eyes focused on my A’s face, whilst wrapping up our late Sunday afternoon conversation, and wrestling with the decision I knew I would have to make soon about departing – side hug, full hug or the relative safety of a firm handshake – when I felt him touch my shoulder.

Spinning round, I found myself face to face with a somewhat dapper old man, albeit dressed a bit too much for a casual Union Square afternoon; three piece suit with a gold brooch to match and very well polished brogues. He must have seen the look of puzzlement on my face, because the next thing he did was to stretch out his hand for a handshake, a broad smile plastered on his face. I took the proffered hand, noting the firm grip, as he proceeded to talk about the weather, which was warm and dry, a bonus at this time of the year. We must have spoken for a further six or seven minutes; an all over the place ramble about everything the point of which I am still not entirely sure. Somewhere amongst all that talking, he complemented A about her hair and then asked what part of the states I was from.

A. does have a thing for wild, all over the place hair – in the last year she has gone the full gamut from having it all out, an assortment of weaves, locs and now twists of various descriptions – which is why she wasn’t particularly surprised by the conversation, somehow assuming it was someone I knew from work. There might have been good reason for him to assume I was American I guess – my English isn’t the worst, and does have twangs and inflections picked up from years of watching American sitcoms in my youth, but still even to me that was a wild stretch.

The silver lining to all that? My agonising over what constituted an appropriate final greeting turned out to be much ado about nothing. In the end we were only too happy to escape the gentleman’s clutches and go our separate ways. Saved by the geezer, I guess.