So I’m walking to work this morning and because it’s good Friday tomorrow, I find my self in Loughborough’s market day. There’s an old guy* sitting on the big circular benches at the bottom of the marketplace. He looks like it’s taken all his effort to get here and he’s taking a breather before he explores the market that he’s been round hundreds of times before.
And I’m skipping to work. He gives me the look that says: I don’t know what the flip you are but you’re not like me.
I don’t know if this happens to everyone, but in the time it takes to walk past him and put him out of sight, I run through three vivid scenarios:
1 stop and chat. I’ll bet he hasn’t had a stranger under 70 talk with him in years.
2 walking past is fine. I’ll bet he’s a dreadful racist and Brexiteer and why should I bother cheering him up.
3 stop and sit with him. Look him deep in the eye and say:
“Hello. My name is Matthew, and I help people move on. I know that I look terribly corporeal. But anything else would be odd, right? So tell me: have you had fun? Yes I know it’s an odd question. You’ll have expected ‘have you been good’ or something about sin. Everyone does. But my question is, have you had fun?”
And then, whatever he answered, I shrug and say “thank you, Derek”, and get up and leave.
Bear in mind, I’m already 300 yards past him by the time I’ve worked this out.
I love the idea that, if by some long-shot he’s called Derek then I’ve really messed with him.
If he’s not called Derek, then I’ve probably made his day because he’ll think that he’s cheated death and might now live forever.
This is an unusually dark start to my day. It ends with me literally skipping in front of my dentist who was stopped at a red light whilst I walked home. I was listening to Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks “Heart Skips a Beat”, so that’s my excuse.
Welcome to L-Town
* there’s a label on his shopping trolley. The label says “Derek”