Friday, 16 May 2014

Day 15: Who do they think you are?

I saw a man getting changed in the street, hidden, or so he thought, around the back of his car. He didn't see me watching him from the train platform. It was below street level. If he had looked down he would have seen the other 30 passengers standing there, waiting. But his attention was divided on his clothes and on the street. It didn't matter because they didn't see him either. Their attention was elsewhere. They didn't look up.

But I did. I saw him, even though he didn't see me. I saw what he was doing and in my mind, I knew what he was doing.

I think he was a stripper-gram. He changed from one set of clothes to another. He started as a man in uniform, with an air of authority. A police man or a security guard maybe. In his transformation he became a workman, with a look of determination. Hard hat. Yellow overalls. Tool-belt. Boots.

I wonder what message he carried? And for who? Would it be a surprise or an embarrassment? A gratefully received gift or a cruel joke played by friends, waiting with cameras, thoughts of blackmail and mischief festering.

He could have been something else though. Perhaps he was a man with two jobs? Both garbs genuinely his work clothes. A man who would have twice the concerns, twice the bosses, twice the laundry bill and twice the wardrobe of a normal man. Twice the man I am.

Or maybe he was a thief. A member of a gang, successfully completing a heist. Slipping out of one disguise into another. Too concerned with the task at hand to pay heed to the hidden eyes below. I can see through his fa├žade, past his confident sneer. He thinks he has gotten away with his crime but his arrogance will likely be his downfall.

I Imagine the haul in the rear of his car. Millions in precious stones, used notes and bankers bonds. Priceless art. What will he do with it? What would I do with it, if it were me?

Then the train rolled into the platform and I found my seat. When i looked out of the window to where he had been there was nothing there. He was gone - on his way to the building site, to the party or maybe back to his lair to count his loot.

It gave me pause for thought. I had judged a man whom I did not know and concocted a truth about him and then another and then another still, all of which were likely false. How often do we all do this and how often does it happen to us without our knowledge? Perhaps it's happening to you right now!

That man there. The one with the hat. Is he looking at you? Does he see the real you or does he see someone else? That woman over there, who flicks you the occasional glance. What does she see? Are you a policeman? A builder? A stripper-gram? A thief?

When you leave this place, are you someone's imaginary hero? Their lover? Or do you wear the guise of a villain, projected onto you by someone you didn't even know was looking?

Are you, in the eyes of others around you, the person who you really are, or just the person who they think you are?