Prompt 3: Pay attention to a stranger you meet this week or observe, and write about them.
I should point out that I went to town today without having read the #writingworkshop prompts.
I had a hasty lunch today, with my 2 sons. We went into Bakers Oven and I had a chicken roll, some crisps and a diet coke. My 2 boys (who had already had a healthy lunch) were apparently ‘starving’ so they had a sausage roll each.
We sat down in a corner table (I can’t stand having my back to a room, it makes me really uncomfortable) I’d had a quick scan around at the other diners, to my left there was an older lady with a cup of tea who seemed to be taking in the world. Along from her was a young girl and boy (22ish) with a younger girl (7ish) I paused for a while to think what the relationship might be – sisters and boyfriend? Mum, dad and daughter? Furthest away was a teacher from my children’s last school with a young boy – we discussed the teachers name (I was wrong, the boys were right!). Nearest to us was a hassled looking family, mum in a vest top with bra straps showing, brightly coloured 3/4 trousers (I speculated in an instant on whether or not she was fatter than me – I think she wasn’t…), 2 kids, one who was dancing in the middle of the floor and one who was quietly eating. It flashed through my mind that they should make the girl sit down before my eyes focused on the man sitting in the centre of the room.
He was sitting on his own at a table, he wore a heavy dark coat with a hood that was up. Poking out from under the hood was the peak of a cap. My view of him was completely in profile as he was sitting side on. He had a cup of tea and a fruit scone which was coated in butter and he appeared to have cut it into lots of pieces. When I first noticed him he was licking the knife. Gross, I thought. He was making a really big deal of it and it made me feel a bit sick. I glanced at my boys to see if they’d noticed him but they didn’t seem to have. From their angle they would probably only have seen the back of his head.
I carried on the conversation I was having with my boys, told my youngest that no, we couldn’t go and buy some lego atlantis…. and looked up again, this time the man was sipping the cup of tea, very very slowly, when he had put the cup down he then wiped very slowly at his mouth. It was somehow creepy but I didn’t look away. He cut another bit of the scone and then licked the knife again, I thought it was disgusting – it wasn’t an idle lick of the knife it was a very slow deliberate action and he sat with the knife in his mouth for several long seconds at a time.
We didn’t stay long, I left half my crisps and 3/4 of the bottle of diet coke. We did the other things that we needed to do in town and then walked back along the high street to the car. Half way along the street I spotted the man, he was standing outside the Bakers Oven near a phone booth, still in his heavy black coat with the hood up. He reached into the phone booth and checked the slot for change. I looked at him again and noticed quite how dirty he was, by his feet was a flithy torn rucksack and 4 carrier bags stuffed with full of ‘stuff’.
It dawned on me that he was a rough sleeper. I guess he had somehow got together enough money for that tea and that scone and that the staff at the Bakers Oven were clearly much less judgmental than me and so they’d been kind enough to serve him despite his appearance and let him linger and savour his food. Presumably the reason he was licking that knife with such intent is that he was hungry and he wanted to enjoy every last scrap of his frugal meal.
So, D is for… DISGUSTING. Not him, but me. I hope that he looked at me and thought look at her she shouldn’t be eating those crisps, what is she doing giving those boys sausage rolls for lunch – and how wasteful she is for leaving half of it. But I bet he didn’t, I bet he didn’t even know that we were there because he was too busy enjoying his cup of tea and his fruit scone.
On the radio in the car on the drive home it mentioned people suffering a ‘slow motion tsunami‘. My thoughts turned to the wonderful ladies who are are offering their time to support #Blogadesh and with a touch of well deserved shame I thought about how the man from the cafe or the poor people suffering in Bangldesh and Pakistan would have appreciated the food that I bought and discarded today or the sausage rolls that my boys ‘needed’ even though they’d just eaten.