It’s not that I am anti-social; or filled with irrational rage. It’s simply that I am extremely sensitive to noise early in the morning. It’s more than mere noise – I am just very sensitive in the morning, In an ideal world, I would spend two hours to raise myself to fully functioning adulthood. I would be gently awoken by the tweeting birds, and would slowly open my eyes. I would waft to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, which I would drink while splayed out like a sack of meal on the sofa, while contemplating the day ahead. A hearty breakfast would be followed by a fifteen minute snooze. At which point I would enjoy a nice refreshing shower, before departing my house, to greet the world with a sunny smile and an optimistic greeting of ‘Good morning Baltimore.’
The reality is far more prosaic. The alarm starts its brutal siren at 7.28. I press snooze twice (timed ten minutes apart). When I peel myself from my pit I have ten minutes in which to do my ablutions and leave the house. I have the process timed to a knife-edge. Unforeseen disasters like misplacing keys can throw the whole day off balance, and result in my being tardy to the party that is a weekday in the wastelands. My brain is not engaged – I am running on auto-pilot. Sleepwalking to the bus, while craving real sleep.
Once on board I scowl at my fellow passengers, willing them to stay away from me, with their pointy, disruptive elbows and their earphones playing their terrible choice of music. There should be a law that dictates that before midday, the only acceptable form of music is the dulcet tone of Parton.
This morning I sensed trouble from the outset. The way she marched onto the bus. With a sense of purpose. I shrivelled slightly. Please don’t sit next to me, I inwardly implored her. She looked like she’d be a telephone talker. For the purposes of this post I shall call her Assumpta – not her real name. Am I the only one who favours a period of silent reflection in the morning?
It turns out it was far worse than anticipated. Assumpta sat down directly behind me. Her colleague boarded and sat on the other side of the aisle. What fun. A piercing, strident, braying conversation ensued. A one-sided conversation. Such energy and vigour is commendable at certain times – after midday. But at 8.15am. Get a grip. Sleep was not going to be possible this morning. Neither was reading my book.
There was nothing else for it – I’d have to settle in a for a good old eavesdrop.
The colleague was Polish, but had clearly spent time in the US, judging by her accent. Assumpta informed her that being Polish, she would not be able to vote in the abortion referendum. She then proceeded to ask if it had been difficult to open an Irish bank account. The colleague started to respond, only to be silenced by a tirade about how difficult banks can with their unreasonable demands for utility bills and precise addresses, and other such nonsense.
This was clearly aggravating to her as the decibel levels increased as she spoke.
I tuned out for a moment, only to re-engage when the talk turned to Sarah. Who is Sarah? Well I don’t know. All I know is that eighteen months ago Sarah moved to San Francisco without informing Assumpta. Despite the fact that they had been besties for years, and had in fact shared a house at one point. About two years ago Assumpta and Sarah had both been unceremoniously dumped by their respective boyfriends. Being more sociable Assumpta soon lined up a replacement (named Paul) but was sensitive about telling Sarah because of how paranoid she is. She arranged an evening at the cinema with Sarah and a mutual friend, and got the friend to tell Sarah about Paul.
That just goes to show you what Sarah is like – the fact that Assumpta needed to get her friend to announce her new relationship, while Sarah remained single and alone.
And the time Sarah confronted Assumpta about her behaviour, the way she spoke to her, and the way she gossiped and bad-mouthed people. The accusations made through WhatsApp. She still has the messages as evidence.
She can’t understand why Sarah would cut her out like that and move to the US, without contacting her though – especially after Assumpta had sent a condolence text when Sarah’s mother died.
All Assumpta can say on the matter is that she is better off without her.
Then they disembarked.
Despite my better judgement I want hear the next chapter.