Do you see the same people everyday? I don’t mean family, friends or colleagues, but the same strangers. Chances are, if you take the same route to work / school or leave home around the same time each day, you will pass the same people, doing the same thing in the opposite direction (wow, I overused the word same too much there didn’t I?). I once read that if you pass a person on your return journey that you did on the outward route, it’s considered good luck. But how many of us even notice, let alone interact with these journey friends?
I’ll be back at work on Monday, after seven weeks of summer, and it got me thinking about my journey friends. They’re imaginary friends of course – well, not strictly imaginary because they are real, just I’ve never actually spoken to any of them or introduced myself. I’m a silent acquaintance. I’m wondering whether they’ll in fact be around. I’ve not been the best at staying in touch over summer (actual friends, I’m aware I’m guilty of this with you too – sorry…), but I’ll be looking out for them nonetheless.
Let’s be clear though, I know nothing of these people, their lives or families, other than what I’ve concocted in my head. It keeps me amused on my drive to work and as someone who talks to herself in the car waaay too much, it gives me, at the very least, a ‘person’ to talk to!
So let me introduce you to my main journey pals, through their back stories I’ve created from a passing glance…
This is my friend in the matching car, that I’ve affectionately title ‘Twinion’ as our cars are bright yellow Fiat 500s often referred to as Minions (well mine is, so she’s been lumped with it too!) I’ll be honest, I’ve not really much to say on the driver, I couldn’t pick her out in a line up, other than she has dark hair and glasses. It’s the car I’m interested in!
When I first got my Fiat, a little over a year ago, I would immediately notice all bright yellow cars on the road (as a side note, it’s a shame others can’t distinguish this brightness, I honestly think I bought it with a built-in cloaking device sometimes!) I especially noticed any of the same model, so when this car began to venture into my neighbourhood as I drove out of it each day, I got quite excited – my little car had a friend!
Yes, yes…I am one of those people that name their cars (Bea) and talk to them – I apologise if I haven’t driven her in a while, congratulate her when she’s managed a steep hill climb and tell her to say hello to its little friend. Not like that, I’m not being all Scarface sinister here! I just point out things like, ‘Oh there he is…let’s say morning!’ or ‘Ooh, running a bit late today your mate, they’ve usually passed us by now.’ Sometimes, I’ll even give a little surreptitious wave under the dashboard. Crackers, I know.
Oh and at the risk of sounding stereotypical, I consider Twinion to be a male car – it has checkerboard decals on it, that make it appear so much more manly. And when my car has been having a bad day (don’t ask!), I’ve pointed out that ‘he’ isn’t as pretty as my car, because ‘he’ doesn’t have a sunroof. Yep, I body shame cars…
Here’s the next ‘friend’ I encounter, as I come to farmland on the outskirts of a village. I’ve not actually seen Red for a while now and I’m slightly concerned he’s no longer with us. You see, I think Red is a tramp. A tramp who spends his nights in barns after one too many moonshines (it seems so much more effective being moonshine!), talking solely in guttural grunts and mumbles, only to be kicked out by the farmer, to amble along the side of the road looking for his next place to crash.
Red is probably around 60-70 years old, filthy and sporting an extremely healthy growth of ginger facial hair, that points outwards at an array of angles. He always wears grubby dungarees over a holey jumper and a dirty woollen hat. I’ve never seen him with a jacket, even in winter, something that worries me immensely. If you can picture Captain Birdseye, after falling on hard times, near a tractor instead of a boat, you have a pretty good idea of Red Beard.
He’s been missing from my route before and I’ve pondered whether he’d been moved on, told to find a new patch to loiter in, only for him to pop up again, weeks, even months later. I’d cheer and say, ‘Look Bea, he’s aliiiiive!’ then instantly screw my face up in pity at this little old man who needed a warm bed and a bath.
I’d like to imagine Red is still around and is actually a well-loved member of the community, cared for by the residents who take turns to house him overnight and keep him company. Of course, he could be an eccentric aristocrat who owns the entire village (he does look like a rough Lord Bath come to think of it). He’s probably just a grufty old bloke who goes to get a newspaper at half seven every day…
THE ONE LIKE A NEPHEW:
I refer to this lad as ‘the nephew’ only because I see myself as a fussing aunt towards him. I’d hazard a guess that when I first saw him, walking towards, presumably, the bus stop, he was around 13 or 14 years old. I’ve been doing this route for 4 years now, so I’ve slowly seen him change into a young man.
He seemed to epitomise the sullen teenager look – earphones in, hands thrust in the pockets of his hoodie, head down and trying to ignore the world. I imagine he ‘found’ alternative music at some point, as his look began to subtly change. His shoes and ‘school’ bag had a skater vibe, his hair got longer (so much so that he would have rivalled many a L’Oreal celebrity with his flick!) However, one thing would remain unchanged – his jacket. He owned, and wore daily, the same hoodie for at least three and a half years. I often wondered if he allowed it off his back to wash!
Then, this last Christmas, he walked out of his drive in a brand new coat! ‘That’s a nice colour, Christmas present was it?’ I’d ask to the ether. And he went for a new haircut…‘Thank goodness!’ I’d declare, ‘Much better isn’t it? I mean, it was getting slightly ridiculous, especially around the ears. I’m surprised at your mother letting you get so scruffy!’
Oh my goodness…I was becoming THAT person!
Some days, he’d not be heading towards the bus stop, but in the same direction as me, walking his dog. ‘Not going to school today are we? Training day?’ (Like it was any of my business!) Before we broke up for summer, The Nephew seemed to be embarking on a new chapter. He stood at the side of the road each day, admittedly looking very awkward…in a suit! The fact he looked like he felt incredibly out of place and was doing his signature look to the ground, I’ll speculate he was on work placement.
‘Haven’t you scrubbed up well?!’ I smiled in surprise as I passed. I imagine if I really knew him, I’d be that annoying relative that likes to brush off imaginary hairs from lapels and straighten ties and collars, in a proud moment of preening…
So now you’ve met my little cast of imaginary acquaintances and likely think I’m more bonkers than you’d already decided! (Oh please tell me you talk to inanimate objects at least…) There are others: The retired postman, the power walker and the one with the man bag, who I reckon hates his job but won’t leave because it gives him time to add to his amazingly detailed and awesome Star Wars inspired world in Minecraft!
When my journey folk are missing, I genuinely worry, just as I do when a blogger hasn’t posted for a while. And whilst my observations on their imaginary lives are based solely on appearance, I wonder how much of a person can be deduced by looks and habits. And I wonder if they’ve ever made a back story for me…