Diarmaid Mc Caffrey describes one fateful day on the 42 bus...
Fate can be a funny thing. When you’re in the business of writing on a regular basis, you could be stuck for a story for weeks on end, devoid of any and all inspiration.
However at the eleventh hour, at the last possible moment when all hope is lost, fate comes along and punches you square in the face with a fistful of inspiration.
Naturally, inspiration practically falling down in your lap is a blessing, unless it comes at a price. How fortunate could a random visit from a muse be if it comes by the hand of extreme misfortune?
Before we get started, let me prepress this by confirming right out the bat that; yes this actually did happen and yes, this type of bizarre misfortune seems to happen on a semi regular basis.
If nothing else, they serve constant fuel to provide the readers of this site with a sense of prevented entertainment like seeing Wile E. coyote blow himself up with ACME TNT time and time again.
Picture this if you will, with myself sat on the ever so temperamental 42 Malahide bus on the morning that this article is being written.
That bus and I have something of a love/hate relationship due to it’s inclination to arrive 20 minutes late. Every. Single. Morning.
While it usually rebels against the natural bus time-table like a temperamental teenager, on this day it actually manages to show up at a reasonable time. That was one problem taken care of.
Of course I happened to have a much more pressing issue on my hands. Namely I had no earthly idea what I would produce for my weekly article.
There’s a variety of reasons I could give to explain why, but to sum it up in a nice bite sized chuck, it’s a combination of various college work alongside your friend and mine: Mr. Procrastination.
Anyway, while I was wrestling with this problem I was dimly aware that a tired looking mother had wandered onto the bus carrying two small children about the age of three and she just so happened to sit the boy right beside me, who was happy to babble away and gurgle loudly and generally be every single small child on public transport ever. I naturally paid no attention to it and had my eyes glued on my kindle.
It wasn’t until I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he had the fiver that was previously in my pocket clutched in his hand.
I have no idea how it happened, or for how long he had my money for lunch, but this issue would no doubt be easily resolved in a matter of moments I thought to myself, reaching out my hand to take it lightly from his grasp.
But this is where things got tricky…
He wouldn’t let go and actually crossed his arms shielding the note from me, holding it against his chest for dear life, clearly deciding that this pretty piece of paper was his new favourite thing and he needed to defend himself at all costs.
For the longest time we stared at each other, his blue eyes twinkling as if to say, “The moment you come near me I’m going to scream and bawl my eyes out.”
What am I to do? On the one hand I need that money to eat and live, but on the other hand, the instant I make a move towards getting my money back, he’s liable to start crying which will no doubt wake his sleeping mother who wakes up to see a random stranger with hands all over her small, crying child. Then we’ll see how much the excuse, the small child stole my money,” will stand up.
So now I was forced to deal with an internal moral conundrum of the highest order. Do I let myself starve or try and wrestle the money away from the three year old. Either way I couldn’t see things ending well for me.
What you need to understand about yours truly is that I have a tendency to over analyze a situation to an insane degree until I find the worse possible situation, in situation number one.
Where I try taking the money, the child screams bloody murder, subsequently awaking the mother like momma-bear summoned by the cries of her offspring and naturally beats the tar out of me for laying a finger on the boy. Thankfully the police arrive to stop the savage beating to cart me to jail.
Fast forward to three or four weeks – in my imagination the court system runs absurdly fast - I’m in Mountjoy for the rest of my life, sharing my cell with several quite muscular and scary looking gentlemen.
In situation number two where I let him have my money, I’m all too painfully aware of the speech in which a toddler can absorb the smallest of information.
So in my mind I’m teaching this child at a very early age that crime pays and pays handsomely. Thus kick starting his life long career of being Ireland’s most notorious criminal and number one on the worldwide most wanted list.
Before I could make a totally informed decision, the bus came to my stop, so with a parting glance I left my seat and exited the bus.
Take it from someone who knows: there is no walk of shame like the one after being out smarted by someone who doesn’t even have all his teeth yet.
Did I do the right thing? Did I just kick-start the life of a notorious gangster? Is this the most pathetic article on the site? These are questions that I have no way of knowing. Even though I could make a reasonable guess with the last one.
But I do know one thing for sure. God, I’m hungry.
Photo:William Murphy/ Flickr