Thursday, 16 December 2010

Old Lady

The other day I was walking to the shopping centre to do some Christmas shopping when, while waiting for the lights to let me cross, I heard a thud as something fell out of a ute and hit the road.

When the lights turned green, I almost kept walking, until I realized that the thump, a large duffel bag/suitcase, was blocking traffic and causing vehicles to slow down and swerve almost into the next lane. It could only lead to trouble, I thought, so I pressed the button to the cross to the opposite side of the road and picked up the bag as I walked, thanking nameless Saints for letting the bag not be impossibly heavy and embarrassing me in front of waiting cars.

I placed it on the sidewalk and noticed that a car had pulled over. "I was just about to pull it off the road." A woman called out to me, as I slowly walked in her direction.

"Oh, sorry." I said bashfully, shrugging. I started to cross the road in the direction of the shopping centre when I stopped and realized that I couldn't simply leave it sitting there. Someone might steal from it or the car might not return to this spot.

I pulled out my phone and turned around, the woman was still in the car. I gestured to the phone and said, "I'm going to call," and she nodded and said it was a good idea. We exchanged pleasant goodbyes and as I crossed the road, I tripped. I asked the world around me to give me a break as I was only trying to do what one should do, even though it would be so easy to just leave it sitting there.

The sun was burning down and I had not dressed to be standing still in such heat. I began to sweat as I pulled at all manner of zippers looking for a contact of some kind. I turned it around, with great difficulty and opened it up with great difficulty and closed it with great difficulty, and couldn't find a number or address anywhere. I started to get annoyed. What if they never came back? What if I had to carry this damn bag all the way to the nearest police station? Was that even the right thing to do? I didn't know. So, I started looking up the number to call Mum.

I felt like a fool standing on this road (you can go for minutes alone before the next pedestrian shows up) as the cars rumbled by and people stared.

I finally found my Mum's number and just as I was put through to her the black ute pulled up and a tall slightly ginger-haired boy ran out and picked up his bag.

I was so relieved that they were there, that my eyes welled up and I was glad to have sunglasses on as moisture hit the tops of my cheeks. I steadied my voice as I said, "I was just trying to find contact details for you!" The Father, I assume, was going through the bag. "I'm just securing it," he said, lifting up a hand to say thanks. "Oh, OK, I didn't want you to think I had stolen anything." They laughed.

I went along my original journey and as I made it to the next crosswalk, the man, now in his car, smiled and said, "Thank you!"

"Good luck!" I replied.

I'm not use to waiting for the lights to change at crosswalks, having so often just jay-walked as it is a New York City residents right. So I find waiting for the little Green Man to appear quite awkward, and even worse when a red car, with two young boys within, pulls up to the light.

I was easily ignoring them when the one in the passenger side, with a broad smile, said, "Hello!"

"Hello," I said quietly, smiling nervously and looking in a different direction. This only made his smile broader. When I turned back to see him still looking at me, smiling proudly with all of his youth, I felt embarrassed. What was this boy doing talking to me? I immediately felt far too old to be talking to this boy, who couldn't be more than 17, and I wasn't attracted at all because I felt (even though it would be a ludicrous pregnancy) that I could be his mother.

"It's a bit hot, hey?" He said.

"It is," I almost laughed, totally embarrassed by the attention, I made a gesture as if to say - though I said it to nobody in particular in the opposite direction, 'Why are you talking to me?'

"Have a good day," he beamed at me. "You too!" I faked.

I wasn't annoyed by the exchange, it just felt completely ridiculous. I was sweating and I was older and they were younger and to even begin talking to this pale almost-foreign old fogey felt like a tease, like I was being mocked.

I'm only twenty-two and I felt almost like our exchange had been illegal. Needless to say, I muttered to myself the rest of the way to the shopping centre.


Anonymous said...

This post illustrates well your ability to write about simple situations like crossing a street. I hope you continue to share your observations with us.


Bilby P. Dalgyte said...

That'd be a weird conversation. "I'm not your older sister... I'm your mother... you see while on this oceanic flight from Sydney to Los Angeles I travelled through time. My you've grown... I remember when you were this high... last week, in 1999..."

According to XKCD comic 314 the standard creepiness rule is don't date people under (your age) over 2 + 7. So yeah... 17 is too young for you. 18 isn't.

Also, that was a good thing you did there with the bag :) (just so you know)

Have a nice day :)