500 people: Week 32

See this post for a brief description of my 500 People challenge.

Lockdown continues. I have been communicating with people on line, including some new people, but it’s been slim pickings in the non-virtual world. Unlike the lockdown last year, there’s very little camaraderie amid the social distancing this time round: people seem to be much more stuck in their own worlds, as if wearing a mask makes you invisible. Nevertheless:

1. Sunday 19 September. The elderly woman ahead of me at the checkout (probably younger than me) chatted animatedly for a couple of minutes in an East Asian language. When it was my turn I asked the woman behind the till what language they had been speaking. ‘Vietnamese.’ Another employee, white, joined us and said what a hard language it was to learn. The three of us chatted for a bit about tonal languages, the pronunciation of phở, and where excellent phở can be found in Marrickville. sadly I didn’t make a note of the recommendation, but I’m happy with Great Aunty Three in Enmore, and miss their phở terribly during lockdown.

2. Still Sunday, the Emerging Artist and I passed a man and a woman who were packing up their gear beside an inflatable kayak. I paused in my walk to ask the woman how much the kayak cost, a question that had arisen with us a couple of days before, but really I asked for the sake of human contact. She looked at a loss and passed me on to her male companion. He told me how much, ‘but it was second hand.’ We chatted a little bit about the joys of kayaking on the Cooks River.

3. Wednesday morning, we were out of our Local Government Area and more than 5 kilometres from home, but it was legal because the EA had an eye specialist’s appointment, and dilating drops meant she couldn’t drive herself home. We arrived early and ordered a take-away coffee. While we were waiting in the otherwise deserted coffee shop, a woman came in with a dachshund on a lead. It sniffed the bottom of my trousers, and when it came back for a second sniff, I offered it the back of my hand, whereupon it barked ferociously. Now we understood that its owner hadn’t left it outside the shop because she knew it would bail up any passers-by. During all this, the dog owner and I managed to communicate quite a lot without benefit of words mouths or noses.

4. Thursday, we were walking on the bank of the Cooks River beside the Marrickville Golf Club when we had a classic old-style Australian exchange. A group of men in their 60s or so were teeing off. We must have looked as if we were interested as the one who was second in line said, ‘Don’t bother watching him’ – his friend who was about to swing his club – ‘you won’t learn anything.’ The EA knew the correct response: ‘We should wait to see how you do it.’ Of course we didn’t.

5. Saturday morning, on our morning walk past the Enmore Tafe College, we came upon a man on a step ladder reaching up into a mulberry tree that overhangs the footpath. Standing beside the ladder was a woman holding a dessert bowl. There was a lot of red fruit on the tree, and a couple of black ones in the bowl. ‘Ripe already!’ we said. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘we’re saving the footpath from being stained.’ Trying hard not to imply that he might not have been motivated only by civic mindedness, I thanked him for his service to the community.

6. Saturday afternoon, just an hour or so ago, we were in the socially-distanced queue for one of the few toilets in Sydney Park. (The park was busy; picnicking groups abounded, at appropriate distances from one another and mostly made up of the permitted five or fewer people.) The masked woman ahead of us said something about how thrilling it was to be out in the world and about to go to a public toilet. As the queue moved slowly we chatted, mainly about the fact that we were chatting in a toilet queue, and finding it weirdly liberating

Running total is 221.

6 responses to “500 people: Week 32

  1. Gotta love a dachshund! (I’ve had two.)


  2. How did I get this far behind with your 500 posts? I wouldn’t call it thrilling to be able to go to a public toilet, personally – haha – though I take your point.

    I have a very sad dog story. I love them, and we have had one most of my life until our last died a few years ago and we decided that we’d not get one so it would be easy to travel – including visit kids in Melbourne at the drop of a hat – during retirement. However, I have aways done what you do and try to engage with dogs we meet, friends’ dogs, but I have now become intensely allergic to every dog I meet. It started with some dogs, or some dogs occasionally, but now it’s every dog. Within minutes of touching a dog I am scratching my hands to smithereens (and often my face because in those few minutes I have usually touching my chin.) If I wear a glove, touch the dog through a scarf, I’m fine but otherwise … I am so so so sad. And I hate looking like one of those people who doesn’t like dogs.

    Oh, and I love the EA’s response to the golfer. And, was the mulberry picker being a bit ironic about saving the paths.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is so sad, Sue. What a cruel thing – allergy to cats I could bear, though I do like even nasty cats, but not dogs.
    Yes, the mulberry picker was being ironic. At least that’s how I understood her. She may have been serious, because walking out your door to a stained footpath wouldn’t be much fun.


    • It is awfully cruel. There’s a dog groomer next door to our lovely little local cafe-patisserie, and so many (clean) dogs pass by, but all I can do is look and not touch!

      The best ironies have a serious truth in them!

      Liked by 1 person

What do you think?

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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.