As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that boredom is not really something to ‘endured’. As tedious as it may be, really it should be appreciated. Let’s be honest, if we cut out all the boring bits of life, then apart from a bit of groaning, the occasional gasp and a couple of chuckles, then it’d all be over pretty quickly. And then the really boring bit kicks in.
I guess then I should be glad when my tube train slows to a glacier like crawl between stations, before the forlorn sounding driver announces that we’d be delayed due to a signal fault up ahead; I normally am – I’m hardly ever in a rush to get anywhere. Today though, the 10 minutes we were held up outside the station felt like an eternity. Seriously. I had nothing to read, not even the free newspaper they shove into your hand outside every tube station in central London, and, as I had to stand, I couldn’t exactly shut my eyes and doze off. Not without looking even odder than usual anyway.
After about the 4th hour of waiting (well OK, 4th minute) I noticed a man who I’d seen on the train a few times before. 50-ish, smartly dressed, with glasses and a neat beard, I recalled that the last time I’d seen him, he had his nose buried in ‘Attack 2.0′ or one of those real life military, manly adventure books. I was shocked then, to see that today he was engrossed in E L James’ erotic novel ’50 Shades of Grey’ – although having not read it (honest!), I know enough about to know it is probably more suited to women in their 30’s than a late middle aged, bespectacled man. My confusion was compounded when I saw that the young woman sitting next to him – who to me appeared the very epitome of a ’50 Shades of Grey’ target audience – was reading, and I kid you not, ‘Round the Bend’, by Jeremy Clarkson!
This was one of the very few times in my life where I have actually done a proper double take – head flicking between the 2 commuters unable to fully comprehend what I saw. This probably sounds like a bit of an over exaggeration, but it’s true – the jumble between the person, what they read, and what the person next to them read was really quite startling.
I wanted to approach them, pluck the books out of their hands, and swap them over, but as I gawped, the bespectacled man lifted his head from his book and stared directly at me. God knows what was going on in the part of the book he’d been reading, but he had a very far away look in his eyes. That look dissipated pretty quickly when we made eye contact though – in fact his eyes narrowed, almost to slits, and he looked extremely annoyed, as if I had purposefully interrupted some beautiful moment. Then he did the weirdest thing…. he hissed at me… literally – as he stared straight at me, he let out a short, sharp ‘Hsss’, which pretty much freaked me out, and sent my gaze hurtling to the floor by my feet in embarrassment.
I guess that’ll teach me to be so judgmental.
With that, I’m off to buy my own copy of ’50 Shades of Grey’ right now. Who knows, next time it’ll be me hissing at random strangers on the train when I catch them checking out my choice of reading material.