She looked at me and smiled, then said hello as I entered the 6 seat booth looking for the best spot to sit as the crowd filtered on from both ends of the carriageway.
The 5:39pm from Glasgow Central to Cambuslang is choc-full as usual and if you’re not fast then you’re standing for the rest of your journey.
I took a second to look at her and politely returned the greeting but I was struggling to recognise her face.
Internally I’m thinking do I know you? How do I know you? I don’t recognise you at all.
She’s a large woman, although I can’t tell from this position how tall she is, she fills the seat and almost half of the one next to it.
I sit beside the window facing her and a couple get in beside me facing front. A business type guy sits on the end of the 3 seat row beside her.
The train is standing room but no one squeezes into the seat in the middle.
“How are you doing?” She begins.
“I’m fine thanks”, trying to keep the puzzled look from my face, it feels rude not to recognise someone that seems to recognise me.
Am I that shallow?
Have I met this lady before and dismissed her because she’s so overweight and not my type and not on my radar?
Would I have forgotten her that easily?
“Are you still at JP Morgan?”
Hhhmm,, how did she know I worked there? Was she a former work colleague or acquaintance?
“No I left about 5 years ago, but I’m back working at Barclays. What about you?”
Hopefully she will give me a clue to how we know each other.
“I’m at Barclays too, are you in Waterloo Street?”
Aaah, this must be how I know her, she must have spotted me around.
“Yes, I’ve been there about a year now” feeling relieved that I’m not that rude or forgetful.
“I have been with them for over 3 years now, but I’ve never been to the Waterloo Street offices. Is Alex Johnston still the head of Risk Management?”
Hmmm so she’s never been to my office and I’ve never been to hers but she knows one of the senior managers.
“Yes, he’s still there but I don’t have any dealings with him”.
“How are the kids? Has Laura finished university yet?”
Jesus whats with the 20 questions!
But she must know me if she knows about Laura being at uni.
“She’s just finished her degree but hasn’t graduated yet. The good news is that’s she’s got her first job and starts next week”
“That’s fantastic, it’s so difficult for kids these days. My David was lucky because he is working with his dad, we are getting on much better these days since the divorce went through ”
Fuck me, she has kids?
And why shouldn’t she, I mentally slap myself for being so judgemental.
“Yes, we were the same and hated each other for a few years but we both have our own lives now and she has a new partner and I’m happy for her”
She is nodding in agreement, this is obviously something that is important to her “That’s the way it should be, you should both get along for the sake of the kids”
“Totally agree, sounds like you are quite happy?” I can feel myself smiling at having reached some common ground.
“Yes very much so” she smiles but her eyes are elsewhere for a moment and I wonder what she’s thinking about and although I don’t feel that I know her, somehow I’m pleased that another soul has found what she’s looking for.
The train slows to pull into Cambuslang and people start to stand. I let them get up and fill the aisles as I’m not in any rush to get home.
As the crowd clears, I rise and check that I’ve left nothing on my seat. Nothing worse than your mobile phone dropping out a pocket and the resulting inconvenience.
“This is my stop, it’s been nice speaking with you” I tell her and genuinely mean it.
“Yes you too, you look happy James”
“Thank you, I am”
We smile and a few seconds later we wave as I pass her window.
But who the hell is James I wonder?
Note to reader – this is based on a what actually happened on my train journey last night.