I was feeling pretty good about myself. Feeling rather urban-chic sitting in the window seat of a Newtown cafe. I was there “writing”. The word writing has inverted commas around it because that’s not really what I was doing. I was actually sitting there feeling pretty good about myself while I sipped a coffee with my notepad open in front of me. The open page of the notebook was blank because I was far too busy patting myself on the back about being rather cool to stop and jot anything down. On an egotistical-wanker day I call this “writing”.
Anyway, there I was, minding my own high-and-mighty business in my new scarf (which was, like me, pretty damn cool). I heard a ruckus coming from behind and down the street. I turned to see an old hobo-looking man, dirty and rambling, stopping people in the street one by one and yelling something at them. Of course, each person he stopped reeled away from him and walked quickly on, which left him free to accost the next person, who would do exactly the same thing.
As I watched the old man making his way along the street yelling at people one by one I thought, ‘Oh yeah, I know you mate – you’re the crazy, old, abusive drunk who always seems to be drawn to me. That’s great! That’s just great – I’m just sitting here enjoying my coffee and trying to get some work done, and now I’m going to be yelled at by some wacko. Great!’
… As could be expected the old guy found his way to me in my trendy Newtown window seat. Damn it. I could now smell the dirty and hear the foul language he was yelling. He was frothing at the mouth and hollering at me, “YOU’RE FUCKED!” … ‘Yeah’ I thought, ‘yeah, I’m fucked am I?! Am I?! … I’m just sitting here minding my own stylish business, being a decent, unobtrusive citizen, and I have to put up with some asshole calling me fucked … Well’ I thought ‘that’s fucked!’.
The old guy staggered closer yelling at me, “YOU FUCKED!”. I gathered up my note pad and pen silently cursing him and asking some invisible god that I don’t believe in why this sort of thing always seems to happen to me.
As I stood up from my delightful window seat he reached out and grabbed my arm with his shaking, grimy hand and pulled me in towards him. I glared righteously at him and was just about to pull myself free when I realised he was asking a question: “You fucked?” … I stared at him and asked “What?” … “You fucked?” he asked again and waved a piece of paper that was in his free hand in my face “You fucked? … Cause the medication leaves me fucked – too shaky to read!” … I looked at the piece of paper and realised that there was a hand-written address on it. He was asking me to read the address for him. As I reached across and took the piece of paper from him I noticed a hearing aid in his ear and realised why he had been screaming his request. He was neither drunk, nor belligerent. He was deaf and on medication that left him jittery.
A massive ball of shame found its place in my judgmental belly and I blushed as I read him the address at top volume. My floundering ego tried to justify my hasty dismissal of another human being with the flimsy rationale that I would have responded differently if he hadn’t been using the word “fucked” … ‘why didn’t he just use another word?’ I thought. But the truth is, the word he used was exactly right. Fucked. He knew it, and so did I.
After he yelled his thanks into my ear I yelled back at him, “NO WORRIES MATE – I’M FUCKED TOO. OBVIOUSLY!”
Let me be clear, there are complete assholes out there. Ones who yell and call you names and should be avoided. But as far as I’ve seen, you can rarely tell the assholes by their manner, the clothes they wear, or your first, distant impressions. On that day the asshole was sitting in the window seat of a Newtown cafe feeling pretty good about herself and “writing”.