Telling stories: The Man in the car park, and the old lady on the train.

In my last post I’d mentioned that I don’t think that I’m very good at telling stories. I know a good story when I hear one, and I know from the seeds with which they are sewn. But I just don’t seem to be able to do it. It might be a self conscious thing, and having second thoughts about being the centre of attention… sentences after I’ve started telling one. It’s maybe what I find interesting, just simply isn’t. Perhaps it’s that the way I come across in what I choose to tell as a bit of a Gifford (like in the Drunk Batman post). Or, it could just be the way I tell ’em. Whatever the reason is, I feel that I fail. 99% of the time my stories fall flat. What follows is that remaining 1%. The only time everything seemed to work. First off however, I am going to have to tell you a story about my dad: My dad doesn’t really talk a lot. He’s a man of few words, but has a fantastic sense of humour. He once told me that whilst waiting in his car for my mum, whilst she did the weekly shop, and a man in a Range Rover pulled up next to him. It was on the wonk, across two car park spaces, “and this was a busy day. I couldn’t believe it. He turned the engine off, and got out. I thought ‘you can’t leave it like that?’ but he did. He closed the door, and then turned round. Urgh. He was all hanging out of the back of his jeans, like a builder, but he didn’t pull them up. Then he just walked off. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to think… and then I wrote a note.”

“To who?”

“To him. I stuck it under his windscreen wiper.”

“What did it say?”

“Your car fits in that space like your arse fits in your trousers.”

“What happened when he came back?”

“I moved the car and went and met your mum.”

I couldn’t believe it. Not that what he’d done what he’d done. That is my dad all over. But that he’d not waited around to see the others man reaction. I loved this story. It really made me laugh, and over the next few weeks I told it to a couple of friends and people that I worked with. Then, one Friday I found myself on a busy train on the way home from work. Standing room only. A real joyless occasion. And then an old lady barged her way past me…

The train was just coming past the football ground and I had made my way to the end of the carriage, when this little old lady barged past me and then huffed. I’m not a monster, clearly I was in her way, so I tried my best to stand to one side of the walk way. She then did it again, walking back into the carriage, and then again coming the other way. ‘I couldn’t believe it’. She huffed each time she did it, and then stood directly in front of me. Not only had she barged past, she’d now pushed in and taken my place in the queue to get out. Had she not been an old lady, I would have said something. Still, ‘what’s her problem?’ When the doors opened people started to get off the train, but when it was the old ladies turn she turned round and asked if I could give her a hand with big plastic box that was next to the doorway.

“Of course.” I’m not a monster, she’s an old lady. I picked up the pretty heavy box and followed her onto the platform. Without turning around, she walked over to someone who had been waiting for her and started talking to them. I stood there with the box. They carried on talking. ‘I could put it down, but then neither of them look like they’d be able to pick it back up.’

“Excuse me.” Still, they talked, the old lady didn’t look round. I could believe it. ‘I don’t know what to think.’ And then it dawned on me. In my head at least, ‘I sound just like my dad… what would my dad do…? He’d put the box back on the train.’ So I did. I then walked back past the old lady, still talking to her friend, and then never looked back. Just like my dad, leaving without getting to see the reaction.

Now over the following week I found me questioning myself, ‘would my dad have put the box back on the train?’ And ‘have I skewed the version of my dad in my head. Why did he make me do that?’ These questions were answered that weekend however when we had a family meal at my parents house. I told the story to my brother in law Rob. There was only the two of us in the room, and I started by saying that I thought that I’d done something to please the slightly distorted version of my dad that I had in my head. When I got to the, ‘He’d put the box back on the train.’ bit Rob was smiling and lent right forward on the sofa.

“And did you?”

“I did.”

Rob laughed straight away, and as he did so I noticed my dad stood in the entrance to the living room. I didn’t however have the chance to be worried about either how much he had heard, or to as to what he thought, as he simply smiled and nodded his head.

To be continued…

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