I’d like to introduce you to some friends of mine.
Well, I say ‘friends’, but I’ve never actually met any of them. Nor have we spoken. In fact, we’ve not communicated in any way whatsoever (so that rules out ‘weird internet group’ – which I know is what you were thinking) and, here’s the real kicker, they almost certainly don’t know who I am.
I better explain, before you think I’ve completely lost the plot.
You may recall that, around a year ago, my little office in Sandbach – which was just a few minutes’ walk from home – was closed down, and I am now required to commute fifty miles a day instead.
As you might imagine, doing the same journey twice a day, for five days a week, can start to get rather tedious after a while, so I have developed a couple of ways of preserving what little sanity I have left, as I crawl along in traffic for a large part of my day.
Unfortunately, one of these methods – which involves me trying to reach certain ‘landmarks’ on my journey by set times (and I use the term ‘landmark’ very loosely, since although Jodrell Bank could be considered of interest, I suspect ‘the Shell garage in Chelford’ wouldn’t quite make the top 50 attractions in Cheshire) – has limited entertainment value; and the other – pretending I am in an ‘air rock band’ – can not only be considered quite hazardous (particularly when it’s my turn to be on drums) but also more-or-less undermines the whole ‘preserving my sanity’ objective. I am fucking awesome on air drums, though.
Anyway, after a while I realised that I was encountering the same people on my commute every day, and although I don’t really like all of them (which will become clear shortly), it got reassuring to see them, and they became my ‘commuting buddies’. It has now got to the stage where I become uncomfortable if, for whatever reason, our paths don’t cross. I mean, just because I don’t like some of them, it doesn’t mean I wish them any harm. Well, maybe ‘Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch’.
Let me introduce you to a few of them.
Mr Always Late
No matter what time I happen to drive through Alderley Edge in the morning, I usually pass Mr Always Late, and give him a little smile as he hurriedly speed-walks down the road, purple-faced and panting. Unlike most Alderley-Edgers seen speed-walking of a morning, he’s apparently heading somewhere, in a suit, and isn’t just doing it for ‘fun’ (with a couple of ludicrously coloured dumbbells pumping up and down at his sides).
Where he is going, I do not know, but it’s always in the general direction of the train station, so that’s probably a safe bet, and would explain his need to rush. The weird thing is, the time that I drive through Alderley Edge each morning can fluctuate by up to fifteen minutes – depending on the level of traffic I have encountered up to that point, and whether my air-drumming has caused me to accidentally accelerate faster than I should (that damn foot pedal always gets me) – yet, despite this, I always pass Mr Always Late on the same stretch of pavement. Weird.
Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch
The first time I encountered her crappy Y-reg Toyota Celica just under a year ago, which was as it dangerously overtook me and two other cars on a blind bend near Holmes Chapel, I thought it was being driven by a ghost – since there appeared to be no one at the wheel. I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but it struck me that only the deceased would perform such a suicidal manoeuvre, safe in the knowledge that their state of health could not really get any worse.
Then, when I inevitably caught up with the car at the next bout of congestion, I looked closer and noticed the faintest slither of a female head peeking out above the window. Certainly not at a height where the driver could see the road ahead of her or any other motorists, but I was at least reassured that I wasn’t encountering an apparition.
Amazingly, her reckless overtaking manoeuvre wasn’t a one-off lapse of concentration either, and for the remainder of the journey that we shared before I turned off, she continued to drive like a fucking lunatic, weaving in and out of traffic, and tail-gating whichever poor motorist was unfortunate enough to be in front of her at the time.
Her driving was so bad, and so dangerous, that I found myself memorising her number plate in case she did end up causing a major accident (which I felt sure she would unfairly – and obliviously – drive away from), but I didn’t realise I would be seeing her regularly for the next year.
I’m not sure whether the ‘Napoleon Complex’ (the theory that short people try to compensate for their diminutive stature by displaying overly-aggressive social behaviour) becomes more concentrated the shorter someone gets, but she cannot be much over four foot in height, and has an awful lot of anger stashed away.
I don’t know why she doesn’t just buy a booster seat and chill-out a bit.
The Nice-bottomed Jogger
Don’t judge me, or label me a pervert, ok?
I’ve already explained that my journey to and from work is boring (remember the Shell garage in Chelford?), and I have needs, so excuse me if I take some comfort and enjoyment from watching the very pertest of derrières, as it gleefully bounces along the pavements of Alderley Edge each morning.
Besides, if you are out jogging during rush hour, in shorts so tight they must surely be cutting off the blood supply to your legs, you are a shameful exhibitionist who clearly yearns for their posterior to be adored by passing motorists. I am merely giving your glorious gluteus the attention it craves.
I often wonder what he does for a living.
The Angry Cyclist
You might think this one is nothing unique, since there are thousands of cyclists up and down the country during rush hour, and each – without exception – is a quivering, sweating, bundle of furious rage. All cyclists are angry, primarily at those fellow commuters who are ostentatious enough to be travelling on four wheels rather than two, but this particular helmeted sociopath takes road rage to another level. He is white-hot angry at everything, and everyone.
I suspect that, as with many cyclists, he’s actually quite reasonable in real life. He most likely leaves the house each morning, fondly kissing his wife and children goodbye and wishing them a nice day, before going to retrieve his bicycle from the garage. On the way, he might encounter his neighbour, and jovially greet him over their boundary hedge:
“Hey there, Mental Dave! Off to shout at cars?”
“Sure am. Might even kick one if I can reach. Have a great day!”
Then, as he lowers the cycling helmet over his head, a dark cloud forms in his mind, a twitch begins in one eye, and the sides of his mouth sink lower on his increasingly-haggard face. All he can focus on is getting to work, and distributing as much misery to any occupants of motorised transport as possible.
He starts off slowly down his road, but by the time he reaches the main junction, he has already spat at the postman (he used to like the postman when he too had a bicycle, but now he has a fucking van) and has kicked a child in a go-kart. Close enough.
The remainder of his journey to work is an endless torrent of abuse, vitriol and spite, directed towards anyone unfortunate enough to be travelling in or on something that is not powered by strangely-misshapen and entirely hairless legs.
I thought I got angry on the road sometimes, but this guy is something else. Hopefully one of these days, the kisses that I blow at him as I zoom past from my warm, dry car, will soften his mood and cause him to re-think his ridiculous lifestyle choices.
Oh how she brightens my morning.
Strangely, I have seen only slightly more of her than I have Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch, because for some reason I am always travelling directly behind her red Fiat 500 (I’m not stalking her, honest), and so I can only base what I believe to be her astonishing good looks, on the big brown eyes that I gaze adoringly into, when she checks her rear-view mirror occasionally.
I’ve tried driving a little too close to her at times, in the hope she might glance back for longer and notice me properly but, alas, I fear that our love is to be forever separated by two bumpers (and, potentially, a restraining order if this carries on).
I bloody hate Fiat 500s, as well, so she must be special.
And there you have it.
I hope you enjoyed meeting some of my commute friends. They’re like a second family to me, and I dream that one day we might all get together for a drink (I’d need to give Crazy Toyota Dwarf Bitch a leg up onto the bar stool though). Or, better still, maybe I am unwittingly part of a different commuter’s ‘second family’, and it comforts them to see me each day, as I air-drum my way past them travelling to/from work? I might be known as ‘Handsome VW Air-Drummer’. I’d like that.
Addendum: I’ve just read this entry back before publishing it, and I am now acutely aware that I am in desperate need of a holiday.