Years ago when I worked for a water utility, a female plumber rang requesting that I meet her on a site. When we had resolved the water situation, we leant up against our vehicles to swap stories. She had the worst.
She had been working on a big construction site where one of the guys was being really abusive. After days of this she realised the only way to stop him was to fight him. So when he next said something degrading to her, she laid into him with her steel capped boots. All the other men downed tools to watch as she ’kicked the s*** out of him’.
I go to my favourite café for lunch. It’s busy and I have to queue up at the counter. It’s a raw food place with two big share tables down the centre. The tables are full.
As I wait in line a young woman climbs up onto the far end of the first big table and addresses the room. She tells us we all have the Light and we all have the Power, as she walks the length of the table, through people’s lunches.
I am so happy to have stumbled upon an impromptu performance. I turn and smile in complicity at the couple behind me in line. They are not impressed.
A man at the table is not impressed either: Get your boots away from my lunch.
She carries on enthusing and he gets crosser. She jumps down and starts hugging him. He’s red and steaming with fury.
By now I’ve reached the front of the queue. The young guy behind the counter has served me many times before, but he’s always a little aloof. I smile at him and say what a great show. His face opens up and for a second he laughs outright. That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, he says.
A man knocks on my front door to borrow my ladder. Who are you? I ask.
He explains that he’s working on my neighbour’s property.
Somehow it then feels foolish to say: no, you’re a tradesman – get your own. I don’t even know you. Why are you knocking at my door?
I lend him the ladder. Months later he’s back. I know you, I used your ladder.
Yes and this time you’ve let paint seep under the fence and it’s colouring my path. He comes over to have a look. We get chatting.
How many children have you got? he asks. One son, I say, he’s 14.
You should have had more. Then he looks closely at me. Really studies me hard. 14? You must have left it really late.
My pain and fatigue stories are told and I wonder, what now for this blog? I’m not ready for it to end yet. I’ve had a taste and I like it. It’s become a part of me. A secret part that’s all mine. Private and public at the same time. A tiny piece of the innermost me stretching out across the world. I’m hooked.
But now I am limited by the title: pain, fatigue and me. I have no pain and I’ve finished with fatigue, yet I want to keep writing.
Am I a fraud, inviting you in with this title and now changing the rules? I’ll understand if you decide to move on.
I don’t know what the new title might be, but I have some ideas about what I want to write. When I stopped work last year, even though I was exhausted, I experienced a freedom I haven’t felt for years. A liberation and renewed sense of wonder that engendered authentic connection with the world around me. Stepping off the work treadmill and being confined to home curiously expanded my daily interaction with people and I began having random encounters with strangers. I’ve already posted two: Not a Lazy Girl and Economic Cannibalism; and there’s a couple more to come.