The Bench

14/12/2018 Off By the writer

A few days ago, I was out on a run, and when I finished and came back, I didn’t ring the bell. I sat down for a minute, on the bench directly across the road, it was long overdue considering how much I had seen it over the years. Consequently I started thinking about the people who I have seen on that bench, and when I started thinking it occurred to me that I have witnessed a lot of different types of people on it. I have a view of the bench from one of my windows, which allowed me to observe everyone, which is mildly creepy I admit.

The students

There are 4 schools within a 10 minute walk of the bench, so it comes as no surprise that this group would be seen here. But the most memorable time I remember is at around 8 am, a little while before school starts, i saw 2 students, but without heads. Soon it struck that their heads were down, and they were deep into work. I sat at my window for about 5 minutes. After which, they commenced a mini celebration since they managed to finish before it was time to go. Seeing said visual reminded myself of the times when we left work off too late, even though it was never that late.

The lovers

There are always lovers, such is the beauty of the world. There are lovers of all ages. Some just sit there which each other and talk, some are romancing each other, and some just sit there, being together in each other’s company, without the need to say a single word. One instance I am unlikely to forget is a little weird, but it depicts today’s generation perfectly. There was a boy sitting next to a girl after school, still in school uniform, but they weren’t talking to each other, both were on their phones, and both were smiling a little. I didn’t realise that they even knew each other until they both got similar reactions on their faces.

When they put their phones down I could roughly make out a chat screen on the phone. It turns out they had been chatting online, while next to each other, and it turned into a slight disagreement by the looks of it, which quickly got resolved, but this time, communicating with their mouths. I couldn’t hear them but by the looks of it they were happy in the end of it, after which they guy and girl went it opposite directions, to meet tomorrow.

The family

Most of the families I see on the bench involve one parent with a stroller/pram, sometimes with a primary aged kid to make it 3.
However, once I saw 3 people on the bench. They looked like grandfather, father, and son. No phones, no digital devices, not even a newspaper or magazine. They were just talking, and there was probably no second where they weren’t either speaking or laughing. That moment just felt so pure to me, like there was nothing in this world apart from family and the ones you love. I watched them for about 5 minutes, of which half was laughter, where all of them laughed like the meant it. All of them spoke, rather than just one person.
It made me think of any times that I had done the same with my anyone from my family, just spoke wholeheartedly, without a tv, game, or view in front of us to prompt us. The sad part is that I can’t remember any such instance, till date. Contemplating about it made me appreciate the importance of talking to those around you with a free heart.
I just hope one day i can finally do that with my child and grandchild.

The friends

I have seen all friends on that bench, although none stand out, they all had different things about them which show friendship. Such as the school students, or the lovers. But I have also seen a continuous 5 minutes of laughter from a group of 4 friends who seemed to be mimicking someone they all knew, and the intimation act was rather entertaining. Another great example of friendship is a time when I saw a bunch of friends trying to cheer up on of their friends who seemed to be quite sad about something. A long 6.5 minutes is what it took to get a small smile from this person, and despite the fact that it wasn’t much, they all rejoiced before walking away much happier than they initially were. We all need friends in our lives, at every age, to make us happy, sad, mad and bad.

The reader

Every few days(in the summer) I see someone out there, just sitting, reading a book. Usually it isn’t for long(or I just haven’t noticed), but one fine summer afternoon, I noticed a lady sitting, reading a book(The Stranger), at around 3 pm. I didn’t make much of it at first but when I looked outside again at around 4 pm, she was still there.

This got my attention and I decided to observe her for a while. It only struck me then, that the book was only part of her plan. Upon finishing the page, or maybe the chapter, she whipped out a bottle of sun cream, and applied it to her face and arms. It turns out the book was an excuse to get some vitamin D. I also figured that reading a book out in the open has a different feel to it. I left in about 5 minutes, and the next time I looked outside, she wasn’t there, and I don’t recall seeing her again.

The drinkers

These ones are almost always at night, and despite the fact that they are drunk, I haven’t got any remotely interesting observations for this type. It is just that they sit there and drink, usually with a friend. Sometimes they are already drunk, sometimes they get drunk on the bench, but do nothing more than laugh really loudly while taking to each other. Thanks only noticeable observation I have made is 2 people, who sit on the bench with each other, but don’t talk at all, apart from the occasional question. One person is almost always shaking while the other just sits there, quiet and staring at everything and nothing, at the same time.

The tired

The street is located on a hill, and until the bench, it is the steepest, so plenty of people get tired while on their way up, hence it is understandable that this is the most common reason people use the bench, and probably the reason why that bench is still there, unlike others in the area which are no longer installed. What’s surprising it that I see all ages in this category, from school students to parents, to the elderly. The latter in fine but the former should not be tired after just 3 minutes walking uphill.

The mystery

This is a category I didn’t expect to have but I do. Every few days, sometimes in a few weeks, I see a person on that bench. The mystery about this man is that every time I notice him, he is doing something different, from speaking on the phone, to reading on his phone, to just sitting there doing nothing. Once I saw him laying down, presumably taking a nap. Another time I saw him with headphones on listening to music, singing and dancing, at 3 am. I just couldn’t put him in a category. I haven’t seen him for a very long time, maybe I won’t see him again, and so this man will remain a mystery.

These are the most memorable characters I have seen so far, but no doubt I will see more. How many of these people have you seen around, or relate to?