Sunday, 6 February 2011

Barking at the clerk

Oh what fun there is to be had when running errands during weekdays. I took a parcel to the post office on Monday and stood behind what looked like a middle-aged woman dressed in clothing that was fashionable when her mum were a lass. When the talking started I realised it was actually an old man with a severe speech impediment who was dressed as a frumpy woman. His 'talk' was a monosyllabic shout that sounded a bit like an exasperated dog barking slowly and loudly to some foreign dog to try to find the way to the beach. He couldn't do what he wanted as for some reason he had to use his 'usual' post office which was apparently in Exeter. He accepted this and left. When I got to the window the clerk had turned and was talking behind her hand to a colleague: it turns out the bloke had had a poor-fitting set of dentures which his erratic speech had dislodged so violently he'd almost spat the upper plate at the window. Rather than pushing them back in he gave up and just took them out, which turned the poor clerk's stomach. Care in the community? More like: set them free so the plebs have someone else to dodge when walking down the street. Nice.
Walking along Queen Street in Exeter on my way to work on Friday I saw a man rummaging in one of those small bins that are occasionally attached to lamp posts. He's a familiar face, mainly because his face is tattooed and his complexion is the sort of dark colour you get when the dirt is so ground in it's immune to soap. He's one of the local 'homeless' crowd who always seem to find somewhere to sleep/eat but still looks rough and in need of some help, either to get him off the drugs or to get him the right ones - the kind prescribed by a mental health professional so that his life is easier to cope with. He fished out a local newspaper, skimmed a couple of pages and put it back in the bin. I'm pretty sure that at some point in my life I'd have been somewhat repulsed by the sight of someone rummaging in a bin but now I find myself agreeing with what he did; he made use of something that someone else had discarded (scoring 2/3 in the 'reduce, reuse, recycle' competition), put it back in the bin when he was done with it (no littering), and didn't even block the pavement while he was doing it (consideration for those around him, even if accidental). He also saved himself some money and the time/effort it would have taken to go to the library to read a free copy. All it actually cost him was a little dignity, and I got the impression he'd left that behind when the money got too tight to maintain a respectable image. I smiled at the incident because I realised that I too would probably do exactly the same thing and not be embarrassed about it. Perhaps now's the time to become a freegan...