It’s not often that I’m alone in this house but tonight is one of those nights. Bert is away on one of his camping trips with a bunch of social worker types from West Belfast. They drink whiskey, smoke grass, make camp fires, howl at the moon then sleep under the stars. Social work can send a man a bit crazy.
I got home from work at four and took the dogs out for a brisk two-mile walk. The dogs always did brisk but it’s a new development for me. Then I shopped (mostly fruit and vegetables) and came back here and made myself a proper meal. Yay for me. Since then I’ve been moseying around sorting out, throwing out and packing for the big move. I like being on my own.
Then just after eight the door knocked. I was upstairs sorting stuff and stomped down feeling a bit pissed that my peace was to be interrupted. There on the doorstep stood a perfect stranger with a rucksack on his back. He appeared to be on foot as there was no vehicle in sight. He was a young man in his early to mid twenties. He greeted me in stilted English and handed me a little homemade card. The card stated that he was a Polish student; here to learn English and he needed money to help him pursue his studies. Straightaway I said sorry, I couldn’t help him and he said something polite that ended in Madam and turned and walked away. He looked very dignified.
Why didn’t I help him? Maybe give him just a few quid? I was worried that he was a con artist. I was very worried because I was on my own and there are no houses nearby and because it was dark. My only consolation was that the dogs danced around him barking their heads off. I did not discourage them from doing so though he seemed unafraid of them. Did I distrust him because he was foreign, didn’t speak English? I don’t know. I’m worried now that he was in some kind of difficulty and I didn’t help. I feel a bit sorry for him. Not that my sympathy will do him much good if he was genuine.
I still don’t think it’s my job to give him money to pursue his education. Maybe if he’d come to the door and said he was starving I would have helped. What was he doing up our lane in the middle of the country anyway? I wish Bert were here.