I’ve never actually learnt to drive. I tried it once and wasn’t keen.
My eyesight is too wonky and I’m easily distracted by passing men. Consequently I have to travel on public transport a lot. I get incredibly bored on buses. Trains aren’t as bad as I can read, but buses bore me senseless. I get horribly nauseous if I try to as much as glance at a book so I while away the time eavesdropping and observing people.
I’ve always liked being helpful from quite an early age and I combine my horror at people and their ways, with a desire to correct and assist. I’ve long toyed with the idea of giving anonymous advice via post-it notes. When encountering the truly misguided I’m so tempted to give advice and the subtle note popped discretely into a pocket or open handbag would surely do the trick.
For example: there’s a man I see on the bus often who I call the Wolfman. He has copious body hair which sprouts from his collar, shirt sleeves and ears. It’s thick and black and looks almost matted. He’s an attractive man otherwise of perhaps 40. I long to extol the virtues of the Body Groomer to him. Sure, it would take him an hour or so a week but what well spent time that would be. His life would be so much better.
There’s a lovely looking boy who gets on the bus who wears the most badly chosen clothes. If you’ve got a slightly broader bottom then the skinny jeans and skin tight tee-shirt look isn’t for you. It draws attention to malformations. There’s a very pretty girl who’s a real beauty or would be if her face wasn’t plastered in orange make-up. She just needs a note telling her that sometimes less is more. There’s plenty of time to plaster the make-up on when you get older and have stuff to hide.
How about the people who occupy two seats? Surely it would be helpful to slip them a note telling them that they need to exercise better manners? The malodorous? Wouldn’t you appreciate a note telling you about your rancid body odour rather than being blissfully unaware? The shouty voiced, the bad grammar users and the uncouth? It would benefit us all if they were made to consider their ways. The women who don’t seem to realise that their heads have backs as well as fronts when they style their hair?
I don’t just want to criticise. I want to pop a reassuring note in the pocket of the downtrodden teenage boy who gets on the bus each day with his over bearing mother. He will escape her one day and needs to know this. I want to tell the very shy looking woman that she really is very pretty and to tell the really sad looking man that things will almost definitely not feel this bad forever.
I know I’m not perfect myself. I wear bad clothes, forget to trim my ear hair, perhaps sometimes have a lingering whiff of cigarette smoke, but wouldn’t I appreciate these things pointing out? I’ve been on the lookout for a decent moisturiser with a mattifier that really works for years. I’d hug the man or woman who popped me a note recommending a viable solution to my shiny nose.
I have however decided not to pursue the unsolicited advice. On reflection it perhaps says a lot about me and my perfectionism. It’s also perhaps a sort step away from fascism. Maybe that’s how Hitler started. perhaps the sad man just has a sad face, maybe the Wolfman likes being lupine and hirsute and maybe it’s better not to know if you do smell a little noxious. I’ll just sit and quietly ponder and keep my notes to myself.
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.
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