This is Sally’s third experience she has shared with us…
Head down, feet a blur, I’m threading my way along a busy street. Out of my way, out of my way, I’m rushing, can’t you see?
Tearing along, against the clock as always, my stress levels are at simmering point.
My destination is my mother’s flat on the opposite side of the town to where the bus has dropped me. It’s not a long walk to get to her, about 10 minutes, but this morning a road closure has caused the bus to make a tedious diversion. I think of Mum, sitting and waiting, wondering if I’m coming, looking at her watch . . .
Will Mum be fine when I reach her, or will she have had another funny turn, like the other day, when she felt faint and fell over on her way to answer the doorbell?
I can hear my footsteps thud-thudding in time with my heart and then I’m crossing a pedestrianised area.
Suddenly, there’s a figure in front of me. Someone tall is blocking my way. How strange, I think, as I prepare to do a rapid shimmy around what I can now see is a young woman. Hang on, she’s spoken to me. What was that?
“Would you say you’re a friendly person?”
This is such an odd thing to be asked, especially when I’m head down and in full flight, that I am momentarily stunned.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “Are you speaking to me?”
“Yes. I asked if you think you are a friendly person.”
At this point, as I’m wondering where to place this in my Top Ten All-Time Ludicrous Questions I’ve Been Asked By a Stranger, I notice she has something round her neck that identifies her as representing a charity. Oh, a chugger. Just my luck to have my frantic dash halted by someone who thinks they can extract money from me.
“Yes, I am a very friendly person,” I reply, “but I am just not feeling all that friendly at the moment.” And with that I flash her my best bared teeth and I’m away.
Time and place, sunshine, time and place, I think, as I tamp down my feelings of guilt and sprint the final stretch of my journey.
By the time I reach Mum I’m imagining all sorts of awful scenarios. Is she all right, I fret, as I let myself in.
“Oh, hello dear,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting you this morning.”