Steve - in 26 languages
There is an art and ritual to leaving home and traveling abroad for work. Three days prior to my exit, Jill becomes increasingly irritable with me and I become increasingly morose and withdrawn. And then there are the essential tasks. She will have done her fair share and more of household duties - her way of showering her love on me and the kids and so I must leave no administrative task undone before I leave. The banking and finance must be in order, all bills paid, medical appointments complete, insurances organised and utilities secured for the next three months. The kids must be catered for in every way and have nothing left to worry their empty heads! By the time I open the front door on my way out of the country our lives and our marital relationship appear nothing but functional in nature. Yet, I have learnt that this is nothing more than an unwritten coping mechanism, a danse macabre, the temporary separation of two happy souls. When I am at home I am happy and when I am engrossed in my work and living in some exciting and exotic location overseas I am happy; but when we are transitioning from one state to another there is a deep sadness and impending sense of loss.
I certainly enjoy my own company and manage myself perfectly well when I am away from home but much more than that I love being with my wife and in her close proximity. We argue and disagree with one another as any couple do but deep down we know each other intimately and care for each other and there is no substitute for just being in each others company. And so by the time I open the front door and step outside and heave my bags into the waiting taxi it is always easier if she has left the house beforehand and gone to work. Otherwise the leaving is more awkward.
And then there is the short taxi ride to the train station which is a ritual in itself. The driver will check his coordinates and confirm that we are going to the station and set his meter. My unusual destination will give him licence to start a conversation if he is a gregarious type.
"Where are you going?" he might ask or adding some flavour he might alternatively enquire - "going anywhere nice?"
On a normal journey I might be a little obtuse but invariably a destination such as Iraq or Somalia leads, either, to perplexity or represents an opening salvo, a shot across the dashcam! If the driver knows something of the Middle East or East Africa then he will engage at that level. If not, my opening salvo will, at best, be taken as a show of willingness to converse, but will fall far short of its target. Sights will be re-aligned and the driver will begin a conversation revolving around his last trip to Mallorca or something similar with just as tenuous a connection. I will then, naturally, be obliged to ask all the right questions from my own, rather perplexed state of being. We both know we have just a few short minutes to complete the conversation before drawing into the station and we both know we will most likely forget each other and the subject matter before we next meet, if ever. So nothing ventured nothing gained as they say.
On my last exit, I had the pleasure of meeting with and talking to Steve from Streamline Taxis. On gathering my destination he took aim and launched an unusual salvo of rockets. His opening gambit included a rendition of ''how are you'' in 26 languages including a few I knew. His Somali - ''sete hai'' was most impressive and I like to think he was slightly impressed that I could confirm his pronunciation? Anyhow, Steve explained that he used an ancient memory technique for learning languages or at least ''how do you doos'' which gave me the perfect excuse to talk about this website. After explaining the evangelical nature of the site Steve then decided to test my biblical knowledge and found me wanting!
"What is the only type of dog mentioned in the bible?" he asked expectantly.
I had heard this question once before on a TV gameshow, but many moons ago and for the life of me I could not remember the answer. So Steve obliged and quoted Proverbs - Chapter 30 verses 29 to 31 from the King James version;
There be three things which go well, yea,
Which are comely in going;
A lion, which is strongest among beasts and
Turneth not away from any;
A he-goat also.
I will not forget this new fact in a hurry and I will forever link it to my short journey to the station - February 3rd, 2021. If you are ever visiting York and in need of light conversation then why not call Stephen Cooper for a ride around town with a thousand random facts! In honour of Steve and all the random conversations I have enjoyed with strangers I have now included this ''Random Punters" section on the MOLL-Y website. Steve can speak for himself;