I’m one of those people who get asked for directions no matter where I am, apparently because I have an open face whatever that is. Unfortunately, I have very little sense of direction and I don’t drive so I’m altogether useless at giving directions. And, I’m usually a visitor myself, so can be observed merrily following my little blue map dot ensuring I’m still heading in the right direction.
But strange things happen to me on my travels, not upsetting or dangerous, just a little odd.
Walking to the Office
- Wandering along placidly in the autumn sporting a faux fur gilet, I was waiting patiently for the green man at a crossing when I noticed that a Range Rover was coming to a stop. The passenger’s window was down and a beautiful, if somewhat large rottweiler was sitting there. He took one look at my faux fur gilet and leapt out of the window. He had me pressed up against the wall and was playfully tugging at my top – the owner was aghast, applied the handbreak and nearly gave himself a hernia trying to manhandle his enthusiastically friendly dog back into his car. I just laughed it off and carried on my way.
- Half a mile on from my dog incident, this time striding purposely towards the office, I was stopped by a rather tall and slightly dishevelled man. He grabbed my arms and shouted “Mine” at the top of his voice – I simply moved away, told him firmly, “No, not yours”, and walked on. Builders on the other side of the road shouted after me, “Don’t mind him love, he’s harmless”. Slightly disconcerting, but completely random.
Trains / Tube
- Me and public toilets don’t get along. Me and train toilets are usually a disaster. I had been travelling to different locations and meetings all day and I really needed the loo, so bravely I set off down the carriage. Luckily, it was a modern train and had one of those tardis-style toilets. All was well until I tried to get out; the door started to open, but ground to a halt with only about 2 inches of its exit available. I tried all of the buttons, I tried to force it open with my hands, all to no effect. Someone else came through the carriage – I was trying to explain through the door what had happened – he tried all of the same buttons from the outside, again to no effect. We combined efforts and tried to force the door with our hands. Nothing. My freedom-fighter went off to find the train manager and explain the situation. Someone with a tool kit was taken on at the next major station, after 40 minutes I was finally freed and made my sheepish way back to my seat, I got a cheer and a round of applause from my carriage commuters. My dislike for train toilets has only been strengthened since that experience.
- There are many obvious stories to tell about travelling on the tube in rush hour, sweaty armpits, no air conditioning and bad breath are the usual culprits. My experience was different. I shared a very small space near one of the exits on a District Line carriage with a large and skittish stick insect. How it made it’s way onto the carriage is anyone’s guess, but I had no desire for it to become attached to me. I was holding onto the ceiling hooks with one hand, and my laptop with the other and this creature kept trying to make it’s way closer and closer to me. I couldn’t move, and I have a fear of insects flying into my hair and not being able to find their way out, and this praying mantis look-a-like was making its way perilously close to me. Taller souls were equally uncomfortable being so close to it, so people were awkwardly positioned with their heads as far away from it as possible. That was the longest 15 stops of my life.
Now the more philosophical amongst us state that the journey is the destination, but sometimes all you want to do is to get to work in as straightforward a way as possible.