Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Kindness Of Strangers

WHOEVER YOU ARE,I HAVE ALWAYS DEPENDED ON THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. So said Blanche Dubois in the Tenesse Williams play Streetcar Named desire. And poor Blanche was as nutty as a fruit-cake. I myself am something of  a fruitcake. There is no denying it. My own experiences of the random reactions of strangers being along the common lines of WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? or WHY ARE YOU NOT ME? Although I share the ache of fictional characters sadness at the lack of empathy at broad in the world I try not to get too hung up on it. Indeed, every now and again I am pleasantly suprised by the actions of others and when this happens I feel rich with life. Take this for an example. I am not the fastest human being in the world. In fact I am a rambling tangle of uncoordinated limbs that at times seem to act independently of each other. When I tried my hand at waitering my nickname by the other waiters was Lightning. For I was anything but a lightning bolt. These days I am worse than ever, my circus days long behind me. One morning I was ambling along in an attempt to get a bus to work. The driver had seen me but was not prepared to wait and started to pull off leaving me in my usual state of embarrassment and abandonment. I sighed trying to feign indifference. I DID NOT WANT TO GET ON YOUR STUPID BUS ANYWAY. Then it stopped and a figure leaned out and waved me forward. C'MON She said with a wide friendly smile. I speeded up and hobbled forward(part of my brain was saying PLEASE DO NOT SHOUT RUN FORREST RUN as all the bus passengers press their faces against the bus window and howl with laughter. I have history after all)actually managing to get aboard dignity intact. She had kindly asked the driver for a little patience and that is what he demonstrated. I was so grateful and it even caused a ripple of smiles amongst those seated.     
            Anytime we saw each other after that we would always say hello and chat. Just about the ups and downs of life in general and particularly the minefield that is retailing. I learned she was from Poland and that she and her husband were both making the most together of a new life in Northern Ireland.
             I asked her name.
             MAGDALENA she replied.
             I babbled a load of comic related gobblydegook in suprise. A few years back I had worked for an American Comic Book Company called Top Cow. Amongst the things I had done whilst working for them was to create a character called The Magdalena. And this was the first time I had ever met anyone with that name. That is her in the photograph with a copy of the re-released graphic novel of the origin story of the character. I felt she had to have a copy if only to prove I was not some looney she had unwittingly encouraged with a simple act of kindness. I mean it was not as though I had claimed  to have visited the moon (although in truth I have, in all its many phases.)
             MAGDALENA meet THE MAGDALENA.
             The most recent comic I have worked on is about North African Pirates making slaves of Irish people.
              I think if I was running for a bus and a Swarthy Swashbuckler leaned out beckoning me forward I might now pause.
              Wait ten minutes.
              Get the next one.