I am sitting next to an extraordinary man. A tan briefcase and 70s hair, you know how they used to cut men's curly hair short so it looked like it was permed. It is possible the briefcase is actually from the 1970s. It is one of those briefcases that is like a small suitcase and it is not a fashionable colour. I like it a lot.
The inside of the briefcase is impeccably neat. A glasses case, an office form of some sort, a lined writing pad, pens, a faded ironed handkerchief and a newspaper. Everything has its own corner. It has far more corners than is possible. I do not really understand how everything is not falling into one corner as it would be if the briefcase was mine. Things jumbling up together and falling out making it impossible to close so I would be sort of holding the two sides together as I tried to sit down.
I see the inside of the briefcase when the man opens it and takes out his newspaper and his glasses case and he closes it and closes the clasps, lays the newspaper out on top of the briefcase, opens his glasses case and puts on his glasses. I read a story over his shoulder that I missed when I read the paper this morning. I think it is Julia Gillard saying David Cunliffe should disappear for the sake of the Party. Pfouf.
I see it again when the man's station is announced and he puts his glasses in their case and shuts the case. He closes the newspaper and folds it on the exact creases that were there. He even joggles it into position after the first fold to ensure it will collapse into itself the right way before the second fold. He opens his briefcase and puts his newspaper and glasses case away in their corners and closes the briefcase.
I think maybe it sounds like I am making fun of the man and that worries me. I'm not making fun of him. He is extraordinary to me because 40 years ago the trains would have been filled with men just like him with routines just like his. Careful undigital routines that become graceful with repitition. This man looks too young to have cultivated his routines or his hairstyle back then or to have just not noticed computers. He's too young to be a relic. Perhaps it's empathy I feel. Me, an old school feminist in the woollen Nana coats and op shop frocks I've been wearing since I was a teenager. Me with my love of usurped schools of poetry. But there's something utterly alien about the man too, something absolute and ordered.
I watch him walk on to the platform in his fawn trousers and raincoat. It's grey and raining and he peers into the sky, stops and pulls out from his pocket a sunhat that can act as a rain hat, let's call it a generic hat, and puts it on, pulls the white string around his chin and tightens it with the toggle.
(C) Copyright 2012, Mrs Loolupants, All Rights Reserved.