Yesterday, I started work at 7am and finished at 8pm. Long day! However, this post isn’t about working long hours, it’s about the encounter I had whilst I stood at the bus stop at 6.30am. Standing there, wrapped up against the morning chill, I noticed the silhouette of a man walking towards me, but on the opposite side of the road. He was staggering, I guessed very inebriated. He spotted me and began crossing the road, obviously making his way towards me.
Half way across the road he flung his arms wide and shouted in a slurred voice “Nobody loves you, but you “! When he finally reached me, he placed his arm around my shoulder and repeated his message, “Nobody cares about you brother, so you have to care about yourself and look after number one”! Smelling the alcohol on his breath, I quickly assessed him and agreed with him as I smiled. He then quite comically said “Who’s number one”? I replied, with all the gusto of a Baptist preacher “I am”, trying my best not to allow humour to reveal itself across my face.
He went on to ask about my wellbeing several times before moving on in his one man crusade to liberate all who would listen.
I watched him as he stumbled away, meandering into the road and swerving back onto the footpath. I noticed a man standing alone in the near distance wearing high vis, and knew he was about to be accosted in the same way. I was right. The high vis man was greeted with the same arm around the shoulder and probably the same words of wisdom. A couple of minutes later, the drunken man moved on and the high vis man started walking in my direction. He reached me quickly and said “What a waste of space, he should get a f$#%ing job”!
I nodded as my bus came into view.
On the bus journey to work I replayed what the drunken man had said, and thought that maybe, through his alcohol fuelled words, he had spoken the truth.