Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I Woke Up This Morning And Had Turned Into Jon Ronson

It's 5:30am, and I'm getting into a cab outside my house. "How nice!" I think. "My bosses provide me with a cab to take me to work when I'm on an early shift. They really are thoughtful sometimes."

The driver smiles cheerfully at me in the rear view mirror, and says, "All right! Early start for you, then?"

"Yes!" I reply brightly. The driver is a chatty type, which I usually abhor, but he clearly feels we have a connection. "Just us two early birds," I think, "the only ones awake in the world, working hard, keeping the wheels of industry grinding. We're the invisible army that prepares the land for the advancing day." I grin back at him. His eyes shine with gratitude.

As we drive down the empty streets, a tramp trundles past, pushing a large trolley filled with rubbish. The driver nods in his direction. "See him?" he says. "He lives under the motorway."

"Really?" I say, leaning forward with interest. "Look at me, being attentive," I think. "I'm the best passenger anyone could ever ask for. This driver probably thought he'd get some miserable snob, but I'm eager to listen to his urban wisdom. Workers of the world unite!" "Yeah," says the driver. "He comes out every night at 3am to do his shopping, and then goes back home."

"HA HA HA!" I shriek. "Actually, it's quite tragic," mutters the driver. He shoots an affronted glance at me, then stares grimly at the road ahead.

My stomach lurches. How can I explain to the driver that I wasn't laughing cruelly at the fate of the poor mournful tramp, but at the concept that he had been shopping, when he'd obviously been rooting through bins for the remains of kebabs? I have just confirmed every stereotype going in the driver's head. Him, the working hero empathising with the downtrodden underclasses of society; me, the titan of capitalism being driven in luxury to my air-conditioned office. The nascent bond between us lies shattered in the footwell.

"Er..." I splutter. "Just here, is it?" the driver asks, sharply. He glares at the steering wheel as I sheepishly close the car door behind me.

"Stupid bosses," I think, as I trudge to the lifts. "Making me endure exquisitely awkward cab journeys when I could have driven in my own car. They must hate me."

I get to my office and discover that I had misread my rota and I wasn't due into work for another four hours. I sigh as I turn on my computer.

Dear the Guardian: Look what I can do! Please can I have a column?

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