Ok so I somehow let two months pass without blogging, despite having several “ooh I must blog about this” moments. Can I still call myself a blogger? Or just someone who has a blog? And is there a difference? That’s not the kind of thing that my
brian brain can summon up the energy to process at this time of the week. I guess it’s unimportant in the grand scheme of things (if there is one) anyway.
So what were those amazing gems of moments which my brain flagged as worthy of the internet’s time? They must have been truly groundbreaking and amazing events… which have now disappeared into the depths of my longterm memory, probably never to be seen again. There’s just one that really stuck in my mind though and I still want to share it with you. Let’s give it it’s only special heading and underline it and everything so you can see where it starts. It’s super interesting and important, of course.*
In which the reaction of a stranger surprises the writer, and it’s a shame that it did.
About a month ago I was queuing in one of our local supermarkets. I had quite a lot of stuff, relative to those on either side of me in the line, but that’s no biggy. My habit is to try and try minimise the amount of space I take up with my shopping on a conveyor belt, allowing the person behind me to load their shopping on to it as quickly as possible. I think it’s only curteous and it’s silly (and inefficient) to take up more space than I need (anywhere).
Now the conveyor belt in this story is about 2 metres long and the person immediately in front of me had just two or three items. They had placed it right at the loading end of the belt, with a massive gap between them and the shopping/shopper they were behind. I was a little frustrated that, when their shopping started its inevitable journey towards the cashier, they didn’t. Cue frantic basket unpacking from me when they did shift whilst payment was made by the shoppers in front of our belt-hogger (they took a while; vouchers,cash and gossip seemed to be involved). I couldn’t actually get my shopping right up behind theirs because they were still bimbling around. When I was able to move forward, I slid my (now fully off-loaded) shopping further along the conveyor, so the shopper behind me didn’t need to wait for the belt itself to move. I glanced at the lady behind me as I did, with an embarrassed smile, as I felt bad for stopping her being able to unload her basket.
I think it was the third slide when she smiled at me, thanked me, seeming genuinely surprised that I was doing such a thing because “other people don’t”.
What the actual f**k?
I mumbled something about it just seeming the sensible thing to do, make enough space etc and tried not to show my surprise (I think her words were something along the lines of “other people don’t do that”). Meantime all I could think about was that she must have queued with some inconsiderate (or inattentive) people for it never to have happened before. I absolutely get that people need different amounts of personal space for all kinds of reasons but there’s personal space and there is someone just being.. well, you know, a bit of a d1ck.
Or maybe I’m just weird?
Anyway, when it was my turn at the till, I started fishing out my carrier bags and the lady offers to hold them open for me whilst I put my shopping in them! I hope I didn’t look too surprised, but I politely declined – I kind of felt like I might be taking advantage somehow. She may have seen the bandage I had on my wrist that day, or she may have just wanted to “repay” me for my conveyor belt manouvres, I shall never know, but it was such a lovely thing she did that I went home and told M the whole story (he just grunted and nodded).
It got me thinking about just how blinkered we, as a society, can be when we are out and about. The classic is people travelling on public transport – it’s rare that you will see people even make eye contact, let alone smile (in fact, some folk would probably think you were entirely bonkers and/or creepy if you did). I travel to work on the bus, with the same people, going to the same place, yet there’s several I wouldn’t recognise, let alone know their names. Ok, so many of us take the opportunity to doze, read, listen to music etc – but that’s mostly because we’re all going to the last stop on the route and someone will give you a prod when we get there. I know I am as guilty as anyone for my lack of interaction on some days (though it does seem that more people know my name than I know theirs, which is a little disconcerting). What does it cost to acknowledge there are other humans around you?
Of course there are exceptions. We have the free hugs crew and random acts of kindness to strangers come in all flavours (from giving a kid that 10p that they are short of at the till or stepping in when someone is being verbally abused). Those moments make me proud to be human. Regular people doing good things don’t create the attention grabbing headlines than crazy, attention-seeking, divisive arseholes (with or without guns and bombs).
Here’s a thought to ponder – if more was made of the good things we do in the media, giving the aforementioned arseholes less air/screen/print space, how might it affect their behaviour (if at all).
*it’s not, don’t believe her.