Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Harbinger

There's an old guy who lives nearby. He hobbles along with his little dog. To my great joy, he is yet another stranger who feels the compelling need to come and talk to me at the bus stop. The Harbinger.

He walks by, goes to the servo to get the paper, then walks back past me, on his way home. Between the servo and the bus stop he quickly digests the headlines, formulates an opinion and prepares a speech. Then when he gets to me, without so much as a hello, he launches into a diatribe of one kind or another, always full of doom and gloom.

"Have you heard about Wall Street?", he asked this morning as he walked by, his little beady eagle eyes suddenly burning into my mine. "Um..", I began, but apparently his question was rhetoric, and without waiting for a reply proceeded to fill me in on the current state of Wall Street.

Not many people know this, but GST was the cause of the Great Depression. And now Wall Street has crashed? Well of course--he foresaw all of this happening before I was even born. And these supposed 'experts' are only just now catching on. Oh, he saw it coming all right. Several minutes elapse, as he probes deeply into these current affairs. He never breaks eye contact, but holds me in this strange spell where I dare not look away. My bus may have gone by, I wouldn't know. He apparently never blinks. He may be part bionic, I'm not sure.

And then his eyes drop worriedly back to the footpath, and he keeps walking. No waiting for a response, no goodbye, no thanks for listening to my long speech. Just gone. And I'm left standing there, feeling, well frankly a little used.

Now, I don't mind listening, if someone wants to have a chat. Hey, if you're lonely, come and see me at the bus stop, and confide away. I am a captive audience who won't interrupt you. I don't mind. But I do have a bit of self esteem, and I don't like to be objectified. There is more to me than just a pair of ears, you know, and well, you make me feel cheap.

I at least need a hello, or a good morning before you tell me your problems. You need to ease into it with a bit of chit chat, a bit of conversational foreplay, if you will. If you can't provide me with this, well I am going to start asking for some kind of monetary reimbursement for my services. People get payed good money to be talked at, you know.


Guthers said...

I've gotta say Ben - I love your stories!

Ben McLaughlin said...

thanks mate:)