Tuesday, 13 January 2009

It's A Small World After All

Working together as a team, the forces of random chance and unusual coincidence are conspiring to make me go "Wha-?". On Sunday, also on the way to work after viewing the kite flying (for those of you who are compiling a comprehensive timeline of my movements - don't be ashamed, stalking's what the intarwebs was invented for), I was sitting at a bus stop at London Bridge station, waiting for a traditional red London omnibus to transport me to work, when the woman with the buggy who was sat next to me at the stop starts chatting to me.

Now this is the part where I come across as something of a misanthrope. I'm a London lad, born and bred; a city boy and a decade-long commuter*. As far as I'm concerned, when I'm in transit, that's "me" time. Time for me to listen to my iPod or read a book, magazine or comic. I'm not one for starting conversations with a random stranger. Being an office worker, I can spend enough time in my week talking to people that I'd rather not really speak to**. I realise that this is the sort of attitude that adds to the general air of misery that regular and prolonged commuting creates but, honestly, I don't actually care.

I'm also not fond of the art of small talky type chitter-chatter. I don't particularly enjoy casting around for something to talk about with people I don't know. It inevitably leads to a prolonged discussion about matters meteorological when in fact I couldn't give two figs if it's a bit colder/warmer/more cyclonic today than it was yesterday.


Despite all that, however, I end up drawn into a conversation this time, mainly because I'm the only person at the stop with her and she's seems too cheerful to be deterred by my initial unresponsive responses. Of course, once we board the bus (being the only people on there) and she sits nearby, the inevitable awkward silence descends in which we mostly stare out the window and occasionally make eye contact and smile awkwardly. Eventually, my stop rolls around, a last few pleasantries are exchanged and I wend my way into the office. "End of story", thinks I. "Wrong, matey," thinks the universe.

Yesterday being my day off and dinner provisions being low on the ground, I was forced to venture to the nearest supermarket which is, sadly, a Marks and Spencers Simply Food***. I'm just about to walk through the door when who should I spot stood just outside? Yes, of course, it's the woman from the bus. We both look at each other in a slightly startled sort of a way, she says something about not stalking me and I mutter something unintelligible before ducking into the shop. Typical. I get drawn into small talk and now, in all likelihood, I'm going to keep bumping into this person and having to make some small degree of chit chat (which will in all likelihood be weather-based).

Well, I did tell you that this one would make me seem a bit misanthropic. I am actually people person at heart. I just think that the people I'm a person for should be chosen by me.



* Meaning that I've been commuting back and forth for around a decade. I haven't been on one long commute for ten years. That would just be foolish.

** If anyone from the office is reading this, I'm not talking about you, obviously, I'm talking about someone else. Probably.

*** Having waxed lyrical about Blackheath yesterday, this is one of the drawbacks - it thinks it's a bit posher than it actually is.

16 comments:

Belle said...

So what was in her buggy?

That Baldy Fella said...

I'm assuming it was some sort of baby-style object but I'm not really an expert

Star Kicker said...

Lol, you'd never make it in New Orleans. People here love to hold you down for conversation. And disclose REALLY uncomfortable facts about themselves within, oh say, three minutes.

I mean, I am a people person at heart too, but like you, I deal with people all day long - some of them rather difficult in fact - and need me time. So, I'd rather not hear about your hysterectomy, thanks.

The worst moment event was when I had given myself a black eye from hitting a cabinet and three women in a grocery store descended on me to tell me that I too would find the courage to leave my boyfriend.

I like visiting London because people leave newspapers on the tube and when you're pretending to be reading ... well, that helps. :)

That Baldy Fella said...

Yeah, I'm far too reserved for that kind of instant intimacy! Fortunately, this is a rare occurence as a large percentage of people in London wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire (my great nan used to say that and I'm not sure what it means, actually - I wouldn't want third degree burns and a urine dousing so that's probably a good thing that most peopel wouldn't do that).

Ah, newspapers - the Londoner's paper shield. "If I can't see you, you can't see me"

bernthis said...

found you through fawty.com and now I'm a fan as well. Sadly, I'm one of those people that is always starting up a convo with others. Usually b/c I've spent way too much time at home, alone, working. Sorry to you and all the others who I've annoyed over the years. :)

Anna Russell said...

You probably shouldn't come to Scotland. Random old guys don't just talk to you - the complain in ways that would make Hitler proud and leave you with the option of arguing with them for being, frankly, evil, or nodding in agreement just to make them shut up then hating yourself for it for the rest of the day.
(the rest of us are perfectly nice, it's just the random old guys. And taxi drivers).

Hugs
Anna xxx

That Baldy Fella said...

bernthis - Don't apologise for me being a miserable curmudgeon! But, you know, just don;t be offended when I mutter in a noncommittal fashion and don't join in...

Anna - I reckon taxi drivers and crazy old guys are universal (and sometimes they are combined in one glorious hole - "w" deliberately omitted)

RachMay said...

I always read a book on the train, but this always leads to "what book are you reading questions" which I tend to answer "don't know, actually," which rather encourages people instead of the opposite.

If you had a book and really big headphones and sunglasses... maybe that would work...

Star Kicker said...

I'm all for a hazard suit and an oxygen tank.

That Baldy Fella said...

I find a bald head, a beard and a sour demeanour have the same effect as a hazard suit and discourage all questions but not everyone can pull off that look.

Jeanne said...

The thing that works for me is to refuse to talk weather and drive the conversation to whatever I'd like to talk about -- quantum mechanics, say, or how physiology and psychology intersect at the point of perception. One of two things happens: the person enjoys the topic and it's an interesting talk, or they know never to open a conversation with me again.

It's a win-win.

(You can blame Belle for drawing me over here.)

That Baldy Fella said...

Maybe I should start wearing a tinfoil hat and talking about "transmissions"...

Leslie said...

I enjoyed your rant via Belle over at Fawty-good reading, sarcastic and funny too!

Thanks for sharing and oh my, the weather is very cold here now in Virginia with mostly sunny skies...hahah

Leslie

That Baldy Fella said...

Thanks for the comment! Well, over here, it's pretty cold with... no, no, I won't be drawn in...

Rachel Tamed said...

I lived in Germany for a year, and I got so spoiled by how unfriendly people were. I get guys trying to chat me up on public transportation and in evlevators and such all the time, and I can never think of anything to say back!

That Baldy Fella said...

Ah, the Germans. You can always rely on them to ignore you. That may explain why I enjoyed my visit to Hamburg so much.