Wednesday, 12 March 2008

When I am old

On most days I catch the bus to work. Generally my busload is made up of a gaggle of giggling schoolkids and a bunch of sleepy adults fresh from the shower. I fall into the sleepy category...

The other day I was half snoozing in my seat observing the world from behind my sunglasses. There was an old lady sitting the in seat in front of me and I was gently musing about her. I considered that you don't often see the wool knits with the metallic thread running through it any more, and I wondered how long she'd had her cardigan. Her somewhat greasy hair was scraped into a pony tail and I wondered if, when I am old, I will stop washing my hair every day. I wondered where she was off to at 7:30 in the morning with the working crowd.

At about this point the old duck turned around and started chatting to me. "Oh man." I thought, "Why do I always attract the lunatics? Now she's going to talk crazy at me all the way to town... maybe I should jump off and get the next bus." I nodded and smiled and tried not to stare at her toothless mouth and sun-damaged skin.

Then the strangest thing happened. She was interesting! She told me about the various landmarks we were passing - their history and what they meant to her. She told me about my suburb, Balmain, and how it used to be a docker's area and now was all trendy. The library on the way used to be a children's hospital and she took her kids there when they were sick... and so on. She was 74 and lived alone and liked taking the bus for a change of scene.

You know what? I was sorry to get off at my stop. I would have liked to have stayed chatting to that old lady for the rest of the morning - maybe over a cup of tea. It was a glimpse into the past and it was fascinating. She was in my thoughts all day.

When I am old I hope I have the courage to chat to the young whippersnappers on the bus dozing behind their sunglasses, and share a bit of my wealth of experience.