Thursday, March 15, 2012


A couple of months ago I was riding the tube to work, reading my book, when I was interrupted by a girl sitting next to me.

'Do I look tired?' she asked.

I asked her to repeat herself — once because she had a thick accent, then again because it was absurd.

'It's a question,' she said, 'Do. I. look. tired. to. you?'

Perhaps this was a fishy attempt at extracting a compliment.

'No', I said. 'You look sharp.' Cunning.

'Good!' she said.

Then she launched into an explanation: how she had been out most of the night and was now on her way to work, and didn't want her boss to get wise to her follies. I couldn't tell if she was drunk, trying to chat me up, trying to con me out of something, or all three. In any case, I really wanted to return to my book, but felt too awkward to concentrate. So I got off one stop early and walked the rest of the way to work. Solved.
                                                           *                    *                    *          

Last Tuesday: On my way to work again, I looked up from my book and saw this same girl sitting across from me. And she had likely seen me (because the world revolves around me). I wondered if I should get off one stop early again, just to be consistent. I was considering this when, out of nowhere, she sneezed.

This sneeze was catastrophic. It was so sudden that neither of her hands made it to the party. And it was forceful enough to throw a large globule of something into the air and onto the leg of a shiny-shod man sitting next to her. This was noticeable. It was so noticeable that he noticed it, and she noticed it, and he noticed her noticing it, and she noticed him noticing her notice it.

So I guess she had to do something, but it probably shouldn't have been this: she took a tissue from her bag and, while apologising, set about cleaning this man's leg and the floor around his foot (I think some of it got away). She laughed nervously. And then she said that she shouldn't laugh, and that this had never happened to her before. It had never happened to anyone before. For Embarrassment, this was the End Times; there was nowhere left to go now. 

But why is it me who feels embarrassed? Perhaps I'll try a different carriage from now on.


helen said...

I'M embarrassed, and I wasn't even in the country...

Michelle Crowther said...

First ride she was trying ot come onto you, which makes the second incident about 87 times more embarrassing for her......! Why is this the first I've seen of your blog, it's awesome!