I’ve taken to spending my lunch hours sitting in my car, watching the world go by or reading. If I don’t then inevitably I work straight through from morning till evening without so much as a proper break. Some may think it lonely; I think it’s peaceful – a break away from the voices of colleagues talking about work, emails coming in that I automatically read, calls to be answered. Peaceful despite the aeroplanes taking off or landing at the airport, even the huge A380s which look like they’ll never manage to get any higher and appear to barely avoid scraping the roof of the office.
I watch the comings and goings of the patrons of the local American bar/restaurant, the budget hotel and the expensive gym. On Monday I watched an articulated lorry negotiate its way through the busy car park and perform a marvelously miraculous manoeuvre to turn itself around in order to make a delivery, the cab like a nodding dog as the driver skilfully weaved it left and right and backwards into just the right spot.
On Tuesday lunchtime a coach arrived. I watched it for a while but only the driver emerged, Mr Messy mug in one hand, cigarette and phone in the other. I watched as he walked around the coach a number of times while speaking to persons unknown on his phone and puffing his fag between breaths. I watched the passengers watching the driver through the coach windows. I lost interest until an identical coach pulled up behind the first. The drivers deliberated, cogitated and discussed and suddenly there was a flurry of activity. The passengers began to disembark the second coach and I saw that they were elderly. There was a great deal of shuffling, slippers and struggling up and down the huge steps of the coaches. One had to come down backwards. The drivers unloaded and reloaded the now empty coach, suitcases and walking frames and walking stick/seat things unceremoniously removed from one and chucked into the hold of the other. The whole saga was strangely fascinating, wondering where these people came from and where they were going, off on a little holiday, supposedly a relaxing break interrupted by transport problems. I hope the rest of their trip remained uneventful.
Today I didn’t have a lunch hour. I was only due to work four hours (although this got extended to five). I still got to have my time of observing others, however. This morning I had to have some blood tests, fasting ones for routine glucose and cholesterol check ups. Our local hospital, a short walk from our house, has a drop-in blood test clinic every day so I arrived early and took my ticket, then sat in the long corridor with the other people clutching their little green number tickets and their looks of trepidation and boredom. There were only four people in front of me, the quietest I have ever seen the department; previously I’ve had to wait over an hour to be seen. The three others took their turns then two new nurses arrived, one coughing and spluttering over everybody and the other chatting about the dream she had had last night (“I dreamt one of my nostrils was twice the size of the other!”) and there was a delay as they all got into the discussion over dreams and deliveries that hadn’t arrived and who was having what for dinner. What seemed like forever but was probably only five minutes turned my nonchalance into more of “a bit of a flap”, only made worse by the young student who was to prick me who I swear was more panicky than me. After two failed attempts to find my vein the procedure was, of course, over in seconds and apart from a small bruise and the smallest of red dots I lived to fight another day.