A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

 If this had been in South Central Los Angeles, there would have very quickly been gunfire, police sirens, helicopters coming in, FBI, CIA, CNN and God knows what else...

But fortunately, this was England. And this was a very true story that actually happened to a very real person, and that very real person, I'm afraid to say, was me. I had already taken a coach from Manchester to London quite successfully, and had to catch a further train from London to Bognor Regis to attend my sister's wedding. This was around October 1985-ish, I was at London's Euston Station at the time and I was a bit too early for my chosen train. I think I'd gotten the time of the train wrong or something but that's all beside the point.

Anyway, to help shorten my wait, I went to get myself a newspaper, the Telegraph I think it was, the plan was to do the 'infernally hard' crossword whilst passing away the extra time. And whilst on my shopping spree, I also treated myself to a cup of coffee and a small packet of chocolate chip cookies. Armed with all my goodies, I went and sat down at a table.

I want you to carefully picture the scene now, as I feel it's very important that you get this all very clear in your mind's eye. Here's the table, the newspaper, the cup of coffee and a packet of chocolate chip cookies. Now, there's a guy sitting opposite me, a perfectly ordinary looking chap wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It didn't look like he was going to do anything weird. But what he did do was this: he suddenly leaned across the table, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it. Right in front of me, the nerve of it!

Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing that we British are notably very bad at dealing with. There is absolutely nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight, has just stolen your biscuits. You've already learned what would have probably gone down if this was in America. But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would probably have done: I ignored it. I stared at my newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do some of the crossword, couldn't get any of the clues, and thought, What am I going to do with this whole situation?

In the end I thought, There's nothing else for it, I'll just have to go for it, and trying very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already somehow mysteriously opened. Staring the man firmly in the eye, I took out a cookie for myself and ate it. Two can play that game and That'll teach him, I thought to myself. I was satisfied with both my actions, and the extremely rich taste of the biscuit, I might add. But it hadn't taught him anything, because a moment or two later, he went and did it again. Returning my stern gazes, he brazenly took another cookie. Now, having not mentioned it the first time, I felt I was, somewhat trapped. It was somehow even harder for me to raise the subject the second time around. "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice...” I mean, it doesn't really work does it?

We carried on through the whole packet in this fashion. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only eight cookies in total, but the whole ordeal felt like it took a lifetime to get through. Just like in the closing stages of the film, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, where the three heroes were seen sussing out each other before a deadly shoot-out, our eyes were firmly fixed on each other in what amounted to a total standoff and a mixed effort to both, stake our claim, and show our utter contempt for each other. He took one, I took one, he took one, and I took one. Finally, when we got to the end of the packet, he just stood up, grabbed his case and walked away. Well it went more like this: after exchanging more meaningful looks, it was then, that he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of total relief and sat back.

A moment or two later, my train was finally due in. So I tossed back the remainder of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and low and behold... Underneath the newspaper lay my own packet of chocolate chip cookies. Imagine my surprise... shock, horror.

The thing I particularly like about this whole story, apart from my unfortunate similarities with this total stranger and our inabilities for confrontation, is the sensation that somewhere in England, there has been wandering around for the last twenty or so years, a perfectly ordinary guy who's shared the exact same story, faced the same emotions and thought the worst of his fellow man, just like I did. Only he doesn't have the benefit of a good punch line.

And at the end of this whole unfortunate episode, all I can now think is "Thank God for his sake, we weren't talking Chocolate covered Hob Nobs." For if we had been, there would have very quickly been gunfire, police sirens, helicopters coming in, FBI, CIA, CNN and God knows what else...


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1 Comment:

  1. Chelle63 said...
    ha ha...funny as...I would have me mortified tho!!

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