>The sun was on high, glowing down at me. I felt fine. The bus station, where I was waiting, was full of the usual hotchpotch of suburbanites looking for a day out and country folks, glancing left and right. I waited for my bus, having no real idea where it was. It wasn’t due yet so I read my Economist magazine, highlighting what I deemed memorable. An ageing destitute man sat on the curb near me. He watched me reading and glancing up for my bus occasionally.
“You checking off the buses?”
“Err, no. It’s the Economist.”
“The homeless? So you homeless?”
“No,” I replied smiling a touch. “The Economist.”
That stopped him for a moment.
“So you go up to Budliegh and Whimple to check the buses?
“Cos they’re different there. These big ones. They’re not the same as the small ones. They’re from up country.”
I looked at him queriously. I have had conversations like this before, with locals who you would say have been in the sun too much except this was England. I imagine he hadn’t been out enough.
“So you work for the buses?”
“No, no. Just catching a bus to work”
“What’s that you’re marking?” he asked, pointing to my magazine.
“The Economist,” I replied showing him the front cover. He squinted his eyes, making out colours no doubt but I suspect unable to fully make out the cover.
“What’s that then?”
“It’s about economics.”
“Oh. I don’t know about that.”
“Okay, Err, I’m going to find my bus. See ya.”
I walked away but wondered how many conversations he’d had like that, how many people just pass him by, how often he’d sat on that very step.
I got to work late. How else I am meant to get there? After the initial induction which droned as usual, I was introduced to my line manager. Many facets struck me immediately. A very hands-on, helpful guy, but also he imitates those he speaks to, especially those younger, latching onto their phraseology and body language. I liked him though mainly because he intrigued me somewhat. He had the manner of Clyde, my brother-in-law and the facial features of Rob Lee, the ex-Newcastle United player. Initially it initially it unnerved me but I then found it slightly comical.
The work itself, is easy case work for EU subsidies. Paying farmers for the land they own. The environment is relaxed and the pay is good. You guessed it…it’s government work and therefore not so far from crisis management after yet another reorganisation of departments and policy. It’s part of modern politics that a government must be developing new policies. It’s self-justifying, keeps people employed and allows the government to look dynamic and forwarding-looking. The office has a lack of atmosphere right now but I’ll work on that as long as I am there.
Here’s to working, saving, purging and the on-going sunshine.