I’m off for a few days…no computer access and I am looking forward to it. Here’s a story to pass the time…I thought I’d put it up on the home-page as some people don’t make it to the page linked below.
For more STORIES THAT ARE SHORT, you know where to go.
After reading that title, I suppose you might think Did you get into a fight on the last Bank Holiday, then?
The answer is no, no I didn’t. I didn’t get into a fight on any other weekend either. But I did almost get into a fight on a week-day — or a School Night, as I can’t help but still think of week-days (I blame my mother for the creation of this particular mental deficiency) — recently. It was all because I had decided to be more assertive when out and about.
My mistake was being assertive with someone who is always out and about: I won’t call him a vagrant, as one of the definition’s for vagrant is as follows and you can see how this does not apply:
1. One who wanders from place to place without a permanent home or a means of livelihood.
2. A wanderer; a rover.
3. One who lives on the streets and constitutes a public nuisance.
The man in question doesn’t qualify, however, seeing as:
1. He doesn’t wander, he stomps angrily or else just sits and shouts.
2. See above.
3. I have never seen him be a nuisance to any other member of the public. He seems to only be a nuisance to me as I walk past (this one I’m not 100% on, seeing as this only represents about 0.000001% of my average week. But it definitely feels like it, so I reckon that counts).
No, instead of a vagrant he was more of a Roamer — someone who leads a wandering unsettled life.
Also, every time I see him he’s holding an iphone of some description, which definitely rules Tramp out (this is not Las Vegas, after all). Which makes my own phone look positively out-of-date, I should say. When Roamers start wielding powerful machines like these, it is time to start worrying.
Let’s hope his iphone isn’t internet enabled and his favourite past-time — when not harrassing passerby, of course — isn’t reading blogs from people residing in the Cambridge area!
Anyway, less of all that, the point is I was being assertive and I was at a gig. My brother’s gig, to be exact. He plays in a band called 50 Metre Moving Target (he is in one of those bands which change their name constantly but when you see them your face, in surprise, does a funny thing and you go Wow, actually they’re really quite good! I’m not even that biased, check them out and you’ll see what I mean).
My problem with being assertive at this gig was that there was really nowhere I could be actively assertive. Short of asking those men next to me at the urinals to move over 4 inches so I could be allowed to inhabit my own personal space — a taboo I didn’t feel comfortable with, what with the inches reference — there really wasn’t much of an opportunity for any of that (and I don’t drink either, so how assertive can you be while holding a pint of Diet Coke in your hand? It just doesn’t work to stand at the bar banging a fist on the counter and saying, just shy of aggressively, “Oy, mate, I’m waiting for a pint of Diet Coke here, hurry the hell up!”)
So I decided to venture outside. This was allowed — my brother and his band-mates didn’t mind it, seeing as there were a few other acts on before them which were all total crap. Ha. Not really. They were all quite good actually (and included a group of guys and girls from the Chech Republic — much easier than spelling out the country — who were expertly performing what I dubbed “Peasant Rock” as I left the place).
I should also say that I wasn’t specifically leaving the pub to be assertive. It was more a combination of assertiveness being the theme of the time and me wanting, very badly, to get my hands on a Wispa.
Fortunately for me there is a mini-supermarket opposite the pub which has both a plethora of chocolate (all melting, but you don’t know this until you’ve actually got it out of the shop, where it suddenly dies on you and dares you to take it back, but you never dare to because you feel somewhat foolish) and loads of room outside which once had trolleys when people used trolleys, and now doesn’t and is spacially ideal for those with no fixed address. Nothing generally against those with no fixed address, though, I’d do the same and who knows, in another life I might well find out (Sainsbury‘s would be my supermarket of choice, seeing as they always have dapper outside areas).
This time, however, I had a feeling that the tramp — he was a tramp at this point, as I had not seen his iphone — was going to be less one who just sits and stares at you, and more a man after my own heart: an assertive one. I quite liked this actually, so as he got up and started speaking to me I put my hand in my pocket.
Almost immediately I knew I had made a grave mistake. On closer inspection — I was now a couple of metres from the automatic doors — I saw he had a furious look in his eyes. Extra furious, on top of that already disconcerting God-I-bloody-hate-the-world look. Also worrying was his tone as he demanded my change. It reminded me a lot of the wonky-eyed, slightly-too-enthusiastic butcher we had in our village when we were growing up. He wouldn’t allow my mum to leave the shop without taking his finest cut of meat and he always took too long to cut what looked like a tender piece of meat. Please, no jokes.
By the time the tramp had spouted the second or third demand, I was all demanded-out. So I told him No. “Don’t demand money from me,” I said, with an echo of Jeremy Kyle somewhere in there which was too late to take back. “Because that is not going to work.”
This only seemed to spur him on more. I could see my mistake and remembered the effect JK so often had on his so-called ‘guests’.
I darted in quick through the swoooshing doors before he could say another word. I quickly found myself lured by other chocolate bars not of the Wispa persuasion. Then commenced a difficult 5 minutes as my inner-Wispa-desire fought hard with the part of my mind which held memories of all the other chocolates.
But the Wispa won, fortunately. I’d never have forgiven myself otherwise.
Upon leaving, the exact scenario I had envisioned happened; the vagrant — in the shop I had developed sympathy for his plight and felt bad for calling him a tramp — gave me hell for not giving him change. I made a noise at him which wasn’t even close to any kind of word, but he seemed to get the point, because he looked even more furious than he had.Very,
It was then, when he kept badgering me, aggressively demanding I give him money — that I had to give him money — that I told him to “piss off and leave me alone.” Which I thought was fair under the circumstances. He clearly didn’t, though. He paused and then looked at me like someone had just whispered into his ear what swear-words were all about.
Two minutes later I was back inside the safety of the crowded pub, wondering things which cross your mind when you are standing alone and forced into making observations to bide your time (wondering why some peoples necks were taller than others and what that might actually mean, if you were interested).
Something hit me from behind. Just the door. I assumed it was someone trying to come in and subtly notify me that I was standing in their way. It wasn’t, it was someone — the angry Roamer — kicking the door in and shouting at me…something. It sounded like a challenge and he had all the gestures of a good hip-hop video going on, but without the scantily clad girls shaking their electric-gold hot-pants.
Obviously I didn’t take him up on his challenge. For one thing, I was with about 10 mates and a pub-full of people, and for another, the guy’s fury scared me a bit to be honest.
Not that it was really my decision not to challenge him. He stomped angrily away quickly, with his iphone, looking over his shoulder, and by then I had my Wispa out and was onto other matters, like wondering why I still had a Pay as You Go.