Management trainee

Why would anyone not want to sit at the front of the top deck of the bus? Some might not manage the stairs, or dislike the leg room and amplified shaking: but the View! It’s Wonderful! If anyone feel too sophisticated, or want to blend into the crowd, that is their loss.

I noticed the young blond woman’s phone call. I want to tell you about it, but I can’t, because I’m on the bus. No, I’m on the bus. I don’t want people hearing. I’m On the Bus-

I will be with you at least three hours as if pleasure in company was to be measured in time, not intensity, and as if one measured out such obligations. I owe you a birthday present, it’s this leopard top, it fits me really well and would fit you too… no, I wear it over a vest and it looks really good…

College was really good for me… That was the point when she began to seem artificial to me. It is not necessarily untrue, but it seemed a stock phrase, the kind of thing one would say, and it might cover any number of resentments and unacted desires.

Unusually, it was she who started the conversation. She noticed a toy car and xylophone dumped by the side of the road, and remarked on it to me, and we agreed that it was wrong to use the verge as a litter bin. It was one of those xylophones with different colours for each note. “I had one of those,” I said.

This moved the conversation from what every good person disapproves of- a safe conversation- onto Music. Fortunately, there are platitudes which everyone can agree on for this subject.

-Without music there would be no singing and no dancing, she says.

-Music relaxes you after a stressful day, she says.

I tell of that woman at Greenbelt, and how I loved her performance and how my emotions resonated with it. She tells of a Chinese child, she thinks seven years old, who played the piano wonderfully on The X Factor, even blindfolded.

-You were thinking of what you just said to me, weren’t you? This is perceptive of her.

She says, weird is good. Weird is Wonderful. “If someone calls you weird, say thank you, and if they ask why you said thank you say ‘because you just called me wonderful’.”

That does not quite work. One can be weird in a bad way, and if it is a stock phrase which she trots out on particular occasions, shorter would be more elegant. She may be too young to get “Search for the weirdo inside yourself” as an M People reference.

We get off the bus.
-It was lovely talking to you. And- [twinkle] I’ll be listening to more music.

I don’t think she expressed any authentic feeling at all, but that last sentence just felt completely clunky, a technique of referring to what she had gained from our encounter needing a great deal of practice. Though I can see that if mastered, it would be a good technique to win people over. As she leaves I notice from her fleece that she is a Tesco management trainee.

Aphrodite Anadyomene at Pompeii, in Encaustic by Apelles

10 thoughts on “Management trainee

  1. Hm, Clare, this post took me back to late 60’s when as Uni student I worked as bus conductor/ress on Sydney’s double deckers – perhaps because one doesn’t see those buses any more (just the touristy ones) and tickets no longer get sold from condor’s bag 😀 but one did come across a variety show just like you this time


  2. You’d probably see right through me then Clare. When talking to strangers, stock phrases is about all I can manage. I actually practise them so that they sound natural, and I now have a good repertoire to use as appropriate. Being an Aspie, small-talk is exceedingly uncomfortable and words don’t always come out correctly. It’s safer to rely on learned phrases, although I sometimes pick an inappropriate one. I’m one of those people that would prefer to text someone sitting next to me instead of talking. Being able to prepare a whole sentence, check and correct it before sending it to its destination is something not available with the spoken word.

    I admire the ability of many who are able to start or maintain a conversation. I’m not able to do either.


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