Distracted by People

My phone was ringing with an unknown number.

It was early July and two days earlier, I had been at an interview that I felt had gone quite well. I tapped to take the call. Pleasantly surprised, it was the call I wasn’t expecting until later in the week. This had to be good news, right?

It’s disappointing news. “I’ll cut to the chase, you haven’t been successful”.

Leaning back into the soft grey sofa, my head is in a daze. I was close, but not close enough.

Its 10.30 on a Wednesday morning. I now know why I couldn’t sleep the night before.

Leaning forward, my mind races playing loops over and over on all I had said and done. Standing up and doing some steps around the living room, I decided to take a shower and recalibrate.

I’d been staying in London for a few days but leaving soon. So I started to pack my bags and sort things out. Hugging my sister goodbye, I headed out the door to catch a train South.

Stepping on to the bus, sitting on top of the card scanner there was a right foot 7-month year-old shoe. The little boy who lost his shoe, this bus driver had picked it up and placed it there. A dad himself, his smile greets me as I see the shoe and meet his eyes scanning onto the bus.

Winding through West London streets, the bus arrives at Turnham Green stop. Finding my way to the tube station, I pass the corner cafe with a Macbook guy and glance into the overflowing boutique garden centre with small pots of carnival colour. Schools out for some, so some London children are out with their parents using all of Summer.

Heading into the tube station, corridor breeze rushes past as I walk up the stairs to the Eastbound platform. Walking past more boys and girls and mums and dads I pass two more boys with their dad, sitting on a bench. One boy is called Casper, the one picking his nose in an 8-year-old kind of way, while the other one that called his name, has a brother joke that only a brother can tell.

With no tube changes to Victoria Station, the call from 10.30 starts looping over again playing through what would or should or could have been. Finding a seat, a woman sits next to me as she finishes off a call. She sighs deeply after she ends it and I hear her frustration and tiredness.

Arriving at Victoria, I get off the District line tube and navigate my way up escalator exits past other route directions to the hectic station. Train ticket collected, I have 20 minutes before departure and need to find the washrooms to use a toilet.

The closest washrooms are on the other side near the arches just up from a Starbucks, so I head off in that direction bypassing the sprawling groups of people and tourists and students waiting for trains.

As I stand over a sink to wash my hands squeezing liquid soap into my palms, I hear a snap on the tiled floor behind me. Looking behind me in a glance, I see an older blind man who has dropped his walking stick and is now using his white cane to find it.

Both my hands were full of soap, but I can see him having a hard time trying to find his walking stick. I know he knows how to find it, but my mind quickly thinks, maybe I can just help him a little.

Turning around I take three steps and pick up his walking stick and place it in his hands. Looking directly at me in the eyes, with all the gratitude he had, he says thank you in a way that I felt it.

Getting on the train I started to think about the people who had crossed my path over that past hour. The blind man and his walking stick, the tube women’s frustration, the brothers giggling at nothing and the bus driver with his eye on the child’s lost shoe.

Disappointed and frustrated about the job outcome, these short stories of different people around me didn’t solve my problem but they were what I needed to get home. Perfect small distractions.

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