Monday usually passes in a blur of blah. The weekend just gone is like a fleeting dream that’s been instantly forgotten. The coming weekend is far out of reach. The best policy is to hunker down, stay quiet, get a nice meal for dinner and bide your time.
This evening I sat, daydreaming, on the bus on the way home, not paying attention to anything in particular. I noticed a gentleman having a debate with the driver. A quick glance indicated that he was one of Dublin’s living undead.
I don’t mean this as an insult. But there is a group of people living in Dublin who are battling homelessness and/or addiction and they are a constant, slightly intimidating presence in my part of town. I feel no ill will towards them and feel bad that they are living their lives tranquilised to the eyeballs with whatever prescription drug is most readily available at that time – blueys and yellows seem to be the most popular. Diazepam and downers I think is what these are. These tablets often seem to be washed down with a refreshing 6-pack of extra strength Dutch Gold lager. But they can be a bit intimidating – you don’t want to antagonise them if you can avoid it.
This community of people seem to be living in a parallel universe to the other occupants of the city – they hang out with each other, sometimes in a sleeping bag in a doorway or, speaking with great intensity to each other, making threats or promises, or just shooting the breeze. Often they’ll ask you for money for a busfare or a hostel.
I generally don’t give any money to them. Not because I want to see receipts to make sure they actually buy a bus ticket – once I’ve handed money over it’s none of my business what they spend it on. It’s just that these citizens are legion in my part of town, and I’d be broke in an hour if I was to give a couple of euros to every one who asks.
The gentleman who boarded the bus eventually sorted his dispute out with the driver and he staggered towards the back of the bus.
And he sat down beside me. He cracked open his can of lager, looked at me and said ‘Cheers.’ I smiled at him and hoped my lack of vocal response would discourage conversation.
Small talk is something that I detest. And I avoid it if at all possible. Judging from the aroma of lager, my companion seemed to be about 10 cans deep into his liquid lunch.
Now I suffer from a severe case of RBFS (Resting Bitch-Face Syndrome) – that awful condition where people think I am in a bad mood or feeling aggressive, whereas in fact I am full of the joys of spring. Considering that drunk people can sometimes be inclined towards being actively aggressive, I decided that friendliness would be the wisest policy towards my new friend.
And how we talked. From the girl who got off the bus who he’d really love to ride (he was slurring his words so I hope she didn’t hear him) to the fact that the woman announcing the pre-recorded tape of bus-stops was ruining the Irish language. To an actual conversation in Irish, to a denunciation of his mot who won’t let him see his children, we ran the gamut from A to B.
Perhaps because I have to make a concious effort to avoid RBFS, people tend to chat to me a lot in these type of situations. I wasn’t frightened by this guy, but neither did I want to talk to him. It’s Monday, let me feel sorry for my own lot for a moment please. But oh no, people like to unburden their thoughts to me. Probably because I nod and agree and smile at them. Perhaps I ought to practice my ‘leave me alone’ look a bit more.
He got off the bus about four stops before me, wishing me a pleasant evening. He swayed in front of the bus just as it was pulling out. He vocalised his displeasure at the driver quite loudly as he jumped out of the way.
I bought a stuffed breast of chicken at the butcher’s shop, which is currently roasting in the oven. My apartment smells of roast chicken. It is very pleasant.