Where I work we have quite a unique way of doing things when it comes to car parking. Due to the limited grounds surrounding the Council Offices, employees are issued with a free pass that entitles you to free parking in any one of 3 public car parks in Wokingham Town Centre. As I travel in on the M4 I have been given a pass for a car park the other side of town, about a brisk 10 minutes walk from the (dis)comfort of my office chair.
Although initially I was rather miffed at adding an extra 20 mintues onto my working day, especially as it takes at least 45 minutes in the car to reach Wokingham, I have since got the hang of my small hike across town and find it a great way to either prepare myself or wind down from a raucous day in the planning office.
Plus I love the little bits of peoples lives I experience, especially in the morning, all in the space of just under a mile.
Normally I arrive at my car park at approximately 08:20 which means I can make it to my desk for an even 08:30 unless anything unforseen apprehends me on the way, like the other morning when a disability scooter had broken down outside of the bakery causing a pedestrian pile up, or the time a young mum lost a wheel from her buggy which I dutifully chased after. Otherwise, without fail, my morning walk resembles the same pattern of people and events that if I’m honest, I would miss if I was given a different parking pass;
At approximately 08:23 an alarm clock will go off at the house with the blue door as I exit my car park (I’m guessing the clock is slow or the owner a little quirky…). On the street corner by the art gallery I pass by a lady with very curly hair taking two small boys to school, the elder one always lagging slightly behind. As I walk up the high street the chap who owns the pet shop puts out the rabbit hutches he stores in a lock-up to the side of his property, a lady will be waiting in the entrance of the estate agents, presumably for the key holder, and the girl with the alternative taste in leggings will walk through the door of the hairdressers.
As I approach the town hall I often see two ladies walk by, deep in conversation and wearing sky blue t-shirts who I think work in the travel agent. Walking past the bank, a professional looking gentleman with a tan briefcase will say hello to me – I still can’t decide if I know him from somewhere or not….
A little further down the road I will wave to my friend Karim who owns a sandwich shop in town as he runs to the newsagent to get his daily paper before the second shift starts. Finally as I round the corner past the barber shop, with my office in sight, I will pass a full figured lady who has the most beautiful smiling face - the sort of person you can never imagine being angry or sad. We normally smile and wish each other a good morning.
I then scrabble about in my bag looking for my security pass to try and get into the Council building. Carl, the caretaker, who stands in the main entrance each morning will often take pity on me and open the tempremental automatic doors, usually at the point where I have started emptying the contents of my handbag onto the pavement.
I do wonder sometimes whether people think of me – normally a little bit grumpy looking (due to it being a.m.), quite often with ‘happy hair’ and remenants of toothpaste still lingering around my mouth – as part of their morning routine as I regard them.
In a way I find it a little sad that we share a part of each others lives on an almost daily basis, yet it is quite likely we will always remain strangers….
To be honest though, if one of them stopped along their way and started a conversation with me ,I’m sure I would be a little taken aback.
But I hope I would think of something to say….
Because all friends start out as strangers. And you can never have too many friends.
In fact I think this chap is spot on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6958227.stm