Thursday, March 23, 2006

Nutter on the bus

Yesterday I had my interview for teeny job number two and was wondering about the oddness of people and questioning my expectations of people when, standing at the bus stop, I was accosted by "the nutter on the bus". I was quite alarmed. The man came and stood inside my personal space leaned into within about four inches of my face and began telling me jokes. The corners of his mouth, his fingers and his hair were all stained with nicotine and his breath reaked of the cigarette smoke that swathed his head like his own personal smog.

I was waiting for the jokes to turn dirty - he had a dirty old man mac on and his fag free hand jammed deep into his pocket. He called me darling at the end of every sentence. He obviously thought I was hgetting on the bus for Torpoint because he kept making jokes about Cornish people.

The bus came along and that would be the end of that, I thought. I sat on the outside of the seat but he asked me if I minded him sitting next to me. I was still waiting for the tone of the conversation to change or for him to grab my leg but he didn't he kept telling the most awful corny jokes. About five minutes into the journey he thanked me for talking to him.

It was a turning point. His jokes were still awful but their bombardment slowed and we started to have a real conversation, about the stuff going on outside the window, the weather: all very British. Then he told me his wife had died. His darling Stella. He was obviously very sad and lonely. He asked me my name and told me he was Ted.

He got off at the stop before me and thanked me again for talking to him and then despite myself, I thanked him back. When did I stop being the Good Samaritan and become the person who crossed the road?


KW said...

It's difficult, though, isn't it? You never know when Harmless Slightly Nutty Widower will turn into Manic Psychotic Nutcase Intent on World Destruction and Stalking. You probably made his day, though.

Pearl said...

Hm, [nod] glad you stayed for the whole thing so we could find out how it could turn out too. I would have expected a chat-up too.

She Weevil said...

I'm glad too and not a little chastened by the whole experience.

Ally said...

I had a terrible job commenting on this yesterday, for some reason blogger became convinced I was an Evil Spam Merchant and would do the word verification thingy!

I'm very cautious in situations like this: when I taught IT to retired people, I got myself in to several quite sticky situations just by being friendly and having it perceived wrongly; nice to have my slightly jaded faith in human nature bolstered :).

Badaunt said...

I had a similar experience on the subway once, after a long tiring day. An old man kept sitting down beside young people (male and female) and starting to unzip his trousers. I watched him being abandoned by startled young people leaping out of their seats and running to a different carriage, and he worked his way down towards me.

I did NOT want to stand up. I was knackered. Also, I didn't think he looked bad. Confused, maybe, but not bad. He had a gentle face. So I stayed sitting down, and sure enough he sat beside me and unzipped his trousers.

Then he turned the fly out so I could see the label. (He was wearing long johns underneath - there was nothing else to see!) The label was written in English - lots of English - and it was driving him nuts not knowing what it meant. He was asking young people because he thought they would understand it because they learned English at school.

I had to laugh. It was such an innocent request (and his long johns were so bulky and woolly he may as well have been wearing a chastity belt). I read the label carefully, out loud - and I'm sure my fellow commuters were SHOCKED to see me peering into this guy's fly - and had to explain to him, regretfully, that the English made no sense at all. (If I remember correctly it was something about teddy bears and autumn, but ... well, you know what Engrish is like. You can't REMEMBER that stuff.)

He was disappointed, but pleased to finally know. He told me it had been bothering him for ages. He zipped up, thanked me, and for the rest of the journey was a model seat companion.

It was a wonderfully strange and happy incident.

Badaunt said...

Oh, and also - is the coComment sidebar supposed to be on the left side of your blog, or the right? On my browser (an old version of Mozilla) it's appearing on the left - OVER your blog posts. In Internet Explorer (also an old version - my computer is old!) it appears down the bottom underneath your blog posts, on the left.

This means that I can read your posts in IE, but I just wondered what I was supposed to be seeing supposing I had a newer computer.