Conversations while reading while walking

I’ve posted about these brief conversations before, and they continue to amuse and even fascinate me. How much can be communicated in the time it takes to pass a friend, neighbour or stranger in the street! The conversation en passant is an under-appreciated artform.

So here are a couple that have accumulated over the last couple of weeks.

Neighbour: (beaming) Jonathan, every time I see you you’re reading. I wish it would rub off. It’s years since I’ve read anything.
Me: It’s not always serious stuff, you know. (Though I was reading Sarah Maddison’s Black Politics, which is surely serious enough for anyone.)
A non-conversation that fits here anyhow: I actually saw someone else in the Taylor Street Park reading while walking, accompanied by a dog. We didn’t acknowledge each other, and I didn’t get close enough to see what she was reading. It had an orange cover.
This one could have happened whether I was reading or not (I was wearing my red Viva-the-Kevolution shirt – a red version of this one, not this one):

Silver-haired man outside Glebe library: I’m not talking to you! (When I took no notice, being about 20 metres away) Hey, man in the red shirt … I’m not talking to you! (As I look up from my book and acknowledge him) I’ve got ADHD and I’m disciplining myself not to talk to everyone who walks past, so I’m not talking to you.
Me: (somewhat absent-mindedly) Oh, OK, thanks. (Now more like 30 metres from him, I return to my book.)
Silver-haired man: (calling cheerfully) I’m a little disappointed in your response. It would have been better if you’d said. ‘Now I’ll never know what I’m missing out on,’ or something like that.
Me: (closing my book, turning to face him, but not retracing my steps) Of course, I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.
Silver-haired man: You see how needy I am!
Me: You’ll do.

My guess is that this charming man has been convinced  by a well meaning psychiatrist / psychologist that his ‘inappropriate’ gregarious impulses constitute a disorder.

More of these conversations as they occur. I do get a lot of indulgent smiles, and I’m not including dog-psychology haiku chats

4 responses to “Conversations while reading while walking

  1. J: I’m not including dog-psychology haiku chats
    Me: Why ever not?


    • @Will: because any beauty or interest is in the exact words and I never remember them. Paraphrased they’re all the same. You’ve got a dog. So have I.


  2. OK, then: Nessie haiku. Just back from my evening walk. I think of these conversations as haiku-like because they are very brief, are concerned with nature and fall into two parts. Here’s one from just now:
    ‘Not interested
    when she’s playing with her toy.’
    ‘Just anti-social.’
    Maybe I should start collecting them.


  3. This is soo interesting. It’s amazing how brief interactions like these stay in our mind and effect our thinking. Strangers can sometimes be the perfect mood lifters in this busy, self-centered world. Look forward to read more.

    The silver haired man sounds truly loveable.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.