Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can You Spare A Minute?

Thankfully, strangers don't often stop me in the street.

Even the charity muggers attempting to part passers-by from their hard-earned cash don't often ask me if I can spare five minutes of my time to help save starving orphaned disabled endangered mice in famine-stricken Bosnia.

Maybe I don't look like I have the money to spare. For work, I wear a cheap Tesco suit, and my shoes have seen better days, thanks in no small part to my daily walk to the train, which involves walking over wet and muddy grass. Actually, my journey doesn't necessarily have to take me along such a route, as there's a perfectly dry concrete pavement on the other side of the road.

But using that pavement would mean my walk to the train would take a minute or two longer each morning. And I'm lazy.

Or maybe the charity muggers avoid me because I tend not to be smiling when I'm pounding the streets of Aberdeen, and my blank face/scowl acts as a deterrent. Or maybe I walk so fast that I seem uninterruptably busy, and the charity mugger decides that I'm unlikely to break my journey to help the starving orphaned mice of Bosnia.

But sometimes, very rarely, I'll arrive on the same part of the planet as some life form that decides I'm worthy of engaging in conversation.

Last Friday, for example, while waiting to be served in an Aberdeen city centre hostelry, a young man who had, I guess, partaken of a refreshment or two, decided to tell me all about his Argentinian mum. I'm not entirely sure why he picked me to be the receiver of such wisdom, nor why he picked that specific topic of conversation. But I can now tell anyone who's interested about the young man's mum's fascination and fervent support for Boca Juniors.

Perhaps the strangest occasion I was accosted by one of these curious souls was in Australia in 2004. Mrs Wife (then known as Miss Girlfriend) and I were at Cape Leeuwin lighthouse in Western Australia, the point at which the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. It was a cold and windy day, and it was bitterly apparent that the wind hailed from the next landmass south of this point, Antarctica.

Having risked being blown south to meet the penguins by climbing the lighthouse, Mrs Wife and I were taking a few photographs and ambling around at ground level, when a young couple came bounding up to us.

The female had an excited look on her face, and she could barely contain this excitement as she engaged us in conversation with the unforgettable opening gambit of: "Oh my god, are you two twins? You look so alike!"

Despite our obvious bemusement, it felt almost cruel to explain to this flustered young creature that, no, we weren't related, and that our relationship was on a slightly different tangent to the one she had imagined.

Nutters - wouldn't want to live with them, but the world would be a darker place without them.

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