the notebook habit

When people pass me in the street, they generally look at my face. Why is this do you think? Are they looking for my intentions so that they can decide whether to run or attack, smile or frown? Maybe they’re checking to see if they recognise me, but I doubt it – the looks they give are not quite like that.

When I’m walking along and reading a book or checking something on my phone, I notice that people steer straight towards me – it’s almost as if they are trying to force me to acknowledge them. As soon as I glance up towards them, they veer sharply away, as if their mission to be seen has been accomplished, and all they need to do then is walk on into the rest of their life.

Some people stop me in the street and start up a conversation. These are the most dangerous people of all. They are the needy ones and are a drain on good reading, thinking and smartphone checking time. There’s only so much one can do in a day, and conversation tends to cut into the time one has to do it in. Often I have to find new routes to walk in order to avoid people. Sometimes I even have to leave home at a different time to ensure a safe journey.

There’s one gent that’s particularly vicious about this. I used to wonder why I bumped into him every single time I walked down a certain road – twice a day – going and coming back. It was simply beyond coincidence that he would be walking his dog at the exact time I passed down the street and then demand that I converse with him. I began to think that maybe he was watching from an upper story window for my approach and would then then leap into action. His fallen arches and shuffling walk soon led me to abandon this theory but I eventually discovered how he managed this feat of friendliness. He walks backwards and forwards along the same stretch – over and over until I happen along. How sadistic is that?!

Beggars are generally a friendly lot. They sit in the same place every day, ask the same question whenever you pass and always have a cheerful blessing for you whether you give them money or not. Watching beggars at work is a real education on how to be nice to people; but have you ever caught sight of their unguarded expressions. Try this for an experiment – stand nonchalantly near a beggar, propped up against a wall as if you are waiting for a friend to join you. You can even check your watch (or phone) every now and again and tut loudly so that you don’t look suspicious. But keep an eye on that beggar. Don’t bother checking them out when they are given money – watch what happens when someone gives them something to eat or drink. They will put on a very pleased expression for the person giving the gift, but as soon as they turn away – BOOM! – that’s when you see into their hearts. Such looks of pain, anguish, puzzlement and even contempt and anger seethe out of their eyes as they regard the poisonous snake they have just been handed. Why? I have no idea.

I imagine though that I would have much the same expression on my face if one month my employer decided not to give me money but instead buy me a month’s supply of beef and pickle sandwiches and a jumbo bottle of diet coke.

People are funny things for sure, but here’s a strange thing – I meet the oddest person of all first thing every morning as I glance in the bathroom mirror. He’s a tricksy one for sure and I’m still trying to figure out what he want from me. I’ve tried talking to him but he’s as foolish as they come. I’ve tried not talking to him and that doesn’t slow him down one little bit – he just keeps coming back day after day. Heck, I even dream about him. Strange dreams they are too; tantalisingly familiar and yet as alien as … well, about as alien as this piece of writing must be to you.

Is it time for bed yet?


10 thoughts on “the notebook habit

  1. Hello Robert,

    As promised, I read your piece.
    I find your writing style relaxing and easy to read. Most of the content is interesting, but what I really enjoy is your sense of humour which of course, comes through in your comments on the course.( Are you perhaps a Holden Caulfield? Just wondering)
    I’ll come back to your blog and will read some more.


    • Thanks Brigitta – it’s awfully nice of you to pop over and read this.
      Actually this one is not really a story, it’s more like my thoughts about people.
      I’d love for you to come back a read more of the real stories.
      I guess I do have a … strange sense of humour, but I don’t know who Holden Caulfield is?
      I’m going to look him up now.
      Toodle pip,


  2. This from Hazel M on the Future Learn forum (permission pending)
    Intriguing. Go for it, as at first I did not know whether you were writing pure fact or fiction. I see it is probably both now.


  3. Comment from Angela Torlop from the Future Learn Forum 17 Nov 2015
    Ha! I LOVED!! That piece Robert. He would run the other way frome me, because I ” love” to chat to people. And often make it my ” mission” to get a conversation from the least chattest person around! And yes! It does feel sooooooo rewarding when you break through that barrier, even a tiny bit. Although to be honest, I haven’t tried stalking someone yet. Possibly living on 6 acres in the middle of nowhere is a slight reason for this? I’m thinking this guy has a huge neon sign over his head which blinks, “desperate for conversation, please say hello to me” but only true seekers of the word can actually see it. 🙂


  4. Pingback: Arts Council England Project | robertcday

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