If there is one good thing about my office space, is that it has a great vantage point. The tinted floor-to-ceiling glass window panes provide ample opportunity to survey the endless passersby. Businesspersons, lawyers, police, teachers, school children, tourists, and other pedestrians all stream by daily. And the best part to me is the fact that they cannot see me mackoing their business. Behind my tinted window I am invisible to all outside.
For some reason, many pedestrians like to take a little break from their journeys right outside my window. They carry on conversations that are often amusing and quite loud. Most times I cannot help but listen in. Even more amusing is when they use the glass window as a mirror to examine their reflections. When the blinds are fully open they reveal a comical show. Sometimes I have to fight the mischievous urge to tap on the glass to startle them.
Needless to say, my office’s location and design is perfect for people-watching.
One day very recently, there was a commotion outside that peaked my interest. It was around midday – lunchtime. The building across the street was having some repair work done to the exterior, and a few of the construction workers were taking a break on the pavement outside my office window. An argument had broken out between a construction worker and a quarrelsome old vagrant who was a frequent feature of the streets.
Let’s call the old vagrant “Bob”. Bob walks with one crutch and leans heavily on it, due in part to the results of a horribly healed broken leg.
This is how it went:
(WARNING: Censored profanity used below)
*Vehicles are driving by*
*Bob decides to cross the street at the junction. Instead of waiting for the traffic light to turn red, he steps out into the oncoming traffic and hobbles slowly in no particular direction. Car horns blare*
*The construction worker sees this and calls out to him in the way that many of us Caribbean people do, when we cannot mind our own business*
“Ey! Get out de road!”
Bob hobbles in an arc to see who is speaking.
“Get out de road, cars coming! Yuh blocking traffic.”
On laying his grimy eyes on the worker on the pavement, Bob proceeds to hurl expletives and vulgarities at the man.
“Haul yuh muddac*nt yuh muddaf*cking –”
At this point in time, a female lawyer walks by my window in full view of the scene. She has her index finger pointed sharply in Bob’s direction.
“No! None of that! Stop that!” she says to him commandingly.
Bob pauses for a split second then resumes his verbal assault on the construction worker, all the while hobbling along the middle of the road.
“Yuh nasty muddac*nt, why you doh –”
“No, no, no. You stop that!” The female lawyer continues to try to curtail his volatile and vulgar speech.
“Yeah, why yuh doh go from here,” says the worker.
“Alright, alright,” Bob says to the female lawyer. She eventually exits my field of vision. Bob’s attention immediately returns to the construction worker. “Haul you f*cking muddac*nt –” Leaning awkwardly on his crutch, Bob reaches into his back pocket and threatens to pull a bottle from his filthy pants. He tries to yank it out with no success.
“Go ahead then. What? What? You ole duttiness.”
“F*ck you!” Bob gives up trying to extract his weapon of choice from his back pocket and starts shuffling away.
“Go from here wit yuh buss foot. You too bad-mind.”
“F*ck you! Yuh MUDDAC*NT!” Bob hobbles to the opposite side of the road, retreating.
“Go from here man! No wonder yuh foot so, you too bad-mind.”
Bob continues to yell expletives as he shuffles off down the road.
The entire time, I was staring at the scene in amusement and chuckling. Up to that point, my day had been uneventful and quiet. The commotion outside had been an unexpected and welcomed distraction. From the first shout I had swiveled around in my chair then stood up to get a better view. It had been oddly hilarious. It was perhaps one of those moments where you had to be present to truly understand the hilarity.
Now, I had not laughed at the fact that “Bob” was a vagrant. There is nothing funny about poverty and destitution. But Bob was not an ordinary vagrant. He was notorious in the area for causing trouble. I had actually seen him picking a fight with a pedestrian a couple weeks ago – near my office again. Thus, I had no sympathy for him at that point in time.
The construction worker had not taken the abusive exchange seriously and had been laughing as well. Whether he was familiar with Bob’s unstable disposition or was simply in a teasing mood, I cannot say for certain. But it had not been a serious quarrel. At least not to the construction worker and his colleagues. However, Bob’s unhinged onslaught of vulgarities had been as aggressive as ever.
This little commotion made me reflect on the lighter side of life. I had been plodding along doing paperwork until the squabble occurred and brightened up my spirits. It had been my first laugh for the day and a good reminder not to take things too seriously.
So I am sharing this story because it lightened my day. Life is short. Find enjoyment when you can. Just don’t be like Bob.
Thanks for reading