Just the other day I met a guy named Gary.
Now, this was whilst I (perhaps ‘ignorantly’?) had my earphones in my ears, just listening to some old school 90’s beats and waiting for the bus – y’know? – minding my own darn business that Gary decided to come and enter into my life.
He seemed harmless enough. An average-kinda bloke, really. Maybe a little down on his luck. Middle-aged (maybe slightly older) who seemed as though he spent of his days just ‘getting lost’ in his own time with nothing to really do or anywhere to go.
So, he politely came up to me with a wide grin – full of character too mind – and started to just have a good ol’ chin-wag:
“‘Ello! My name’s Gary!” he said, extending his hand soiled with nicotine stains.
Now, this is where I get a little ‘funny’ (and from this point on, I might seem like a total … y’know? Insert appropriate offensive title here … or perhaps someone who is unsure of what to do in a situation like this. I hope the latter applies certainly, but it’s up to the reader, really…)
Gary stood there – now with a slightly confused face, “Y’a don’t shake ‘ands, do yer?”
“Uh … no… not all the time…” I said very sheepishly.
“Such a nice day though, inn’it?” Gary said, beaming his scruffy jawline towards the sky, “so nice just to
see such a beautiful day, yeah?”
“Indeed…” I said with a very slight smile, a friendliness slowly sinking back into my voice.
“Yeah…” he went on to say – and just then before he could continue – my bus came over the hill.
I indicated with my Oyster card towards the direction of the bus to let the driver know that I wanted him to stop.
“‘Dis ‘ere your bus, is it?” said Gary, “Oh, ‘eah! I think this one goes to Cricklewood, yeah?”
“Yep.” I said. A little firmly now – acknowledging Gary – but trying not to show him too much warmth. I didn’t want his company on the bus, truth be told, this felt a little strange to me already.
“Good, good…” Gary said trailing off as I turned my back on him. I then raced towards the front bus doors and lined them up with almost utter perfection as it pulled into the stop.
“No worries, mate…” I replied with yet another sheepish smile.
The doors hissed open and I flung myself in, tapped the Oyster card and then glided on through the bus and jostled straight up the stairs onto the upper deck. It was like I’d been recruited on a stealth mission or something. It went like freakin’ clockwork – and I am easily the clumsiest person that I know! I then found a seat on the upper deck and sat down, eyeing off the top of the stairs waiting for Gary to perhaps just ‘show up’…
I relaxed a little once I realised that he was downstairs and knew that he probably wouldn’t be coming up. I then felt a little sad once I started to reflect upon this scenario and I started to think: I truly am a bit of a *EXPLETIVE*. I mean, he probably just wanted to have a bit of a chat – and I wouldn’t even shake his hand because I was scared? – what’s wrong with me?
I felt a little depressed upon pondering these thoughts, but in essence, I was taken off-guard in a rather unusual way. I had not expected it. I didn’t know if he wanted anything or if he was sizing me up for something. This is London. You have to watch your back here, unfortunately, and it does make you a little ‘edgier’ than it probably should…
But still, surely he was harmless enough?
I don’t know. But I’ll look at it this way: one step at a time. I know I’m a good guy deep down. Within myself, I do tend to feel quite a bit of empathy for people – even if not at first – upon reflection usually. So, if he’s local and he approaches me again, I might just shake his hand at least…
After all, I just brought some new hand sanitiser…by