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?