Public Embarrassments

The traffic lights are taking so long to change it’s virtually an epoch, the shining red stick man standing in his little round hole inside the light, a stoic sentinel safeguarding the crossing. Smug bastard. I take a contemptuous sip out of my McDonald’s Fanta, which has been diluted by the ice inside, muting the flavour into something barely tolerable. Out of the corner of my eye, I’m acutely aware of two people standing to my left, who are the reason for my overpowering desire to be as far away from them as possible, if the red stick man plans on turning green any time soon.

It doesn’t take much to ruin my day. Almost anything can eke a foul mood out of me; most of it stems from other people having too much fun. I’ve long since accepted that my mood will permanently be somewhere in the realm of ‘mildly ticked off’; therefore, it takes a special kind of person to push me into the territory of genuine disgust and horror.

Horrified, I was. A man and an older woman pushing a pram stand next to me, blissfully ignorant to the pain they are inflicting on the rest of the world, as only people with zero self-awareness can do. Stuffed inside the balding man’s grey tracksuit hoodie sits a rectangular Bluetooth speaker, the end of which is precariously hanging out in the open. Blaring out of the speaker are blasts of the most offensively boring and generic EDM. He seems to catch me glaring at him as he takes a swig from a Strongbow, and for a minute, I think he has a moment of clarity where he realises how much of a nuisance he’s being, but – to my amazement – he actually turns it up.

The woman, who has dyed red hair to match the colour of the pram, can barely hear him speaking. Down the side of her wrinkled face are a smorgasbord of small star tattoos. At this point, I’m lamenting for the future of the child in their care, whose eardrums have probably been blown out by Mr. Jeremy Kyle Show’s deejays.

Finally, the traffic alleviates enough for us to cross, but it comes far too late to salvage my mood. Perhaps I’ve been too judgemental, I think, until the man drops his cider can in a bush. First impressions are often entirely correct.

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