Some days everything turns out right, and other days it feels like everything is out to get you. I’m not sure what sort of day it was today.
Last night, when I went to the flat at the charity house for the night, I noticed the CCTV monitor was off. I checked, and there was a light, so power was getting in, but the screen was black. I tried all buttons and cables I could find, but I didn’t manage to make it work. As I sat reading on the sofa, I kept glancing at it and feeling a sort of discomfort.
Usually, I don’t have access to CCTV footage in my life, and I only see it when I’m volunteering (and then, only in the evening). If the burglar alarm went off, I could quickly look at the monitor and see if there was an actual break in, or if maybe one of the parents forgot they cannot go to the garden in the middle of the night. Not having the CCTV available made me feel uncomfortable, not unsafe, just weird. I found it a bit disturbing…
What I actually found disturbing wasn’t the fact that I was, essentially, blind that night, but how easily I had become used to having these cameras. Before then, I would have never thought about being able to see what was going on in the corridors, and in a few nights staying there, the idea of not seeing what was going on made me feel weird, like I was going to miss something important happening somewhere, I don’t know.
In reality, it doesn’t matter, if the alarm had gone off, I would have simply stayed in the flat and waited for the police to arrive (which is what I’ve been told to do anyway, CCTV or not), but it felt like I was missing a sense, or something.
Anyway, in the morning, I wanted to go somewhere as soon as I left the house, but they didn’t open until 11am. It was only 10.15 and it was very cold, so I decided not to wait and just go to John Lewis, to buy supplies for crafts and haberdashery (I love that word!). The Jubilee line was partially closed (welcome to London!), so I had to take the Northern line to Bank, and then the Central line to Oxford Circus. I got there and first of all, it felt strange. The streets were emptier than usual! Then again, it was around 10.35 or so. All the shops were closed and you could actually walk without bumping into people.
I walked to John Lewis, and saw that they were still closed, so I sat on a bench in front of the door. It was just me and two grandmas waiting for the store to open. I saw the ladies approach the door, look at the opening times and then leave. I could just almost see the times listed, and I could see that on Sundays they opened from 11… wait, was that a three or a zero? I stood up and walked up to the door. It was 10.51am. John Lewis opened at 11.30. Damn!
It was still cold, so I wasn’t going to wait on the bench for 40 minutes. I decided to walk. Surely, one of the other million stores (give or take) on Oxford Street would be open, right? Well, as it turned out, no. All closed (at least any shop I would actually want to visit, that is, the weird souvenir shop was open).
I decided to find a coffee shop, but I hadn’t seen any. Seriously, not one. I thought about going to Bond Street station, but I didn’t want to cross and get all the way there, especially since I could only remember there being a Pret, and I thought their coffee was quite bad the one time I tried it. I remembered people saying there’s a Starbucks pretty much on every corner everywhere in the world (more or less). Well, they’re wrong. This morning I couldn’t find any Starbucks at all. Normally, I don’t like it, but I just wanted to sit down for half an hour, enjoying a hot coffee and passing the time.
At some point, I decided to turn right on a little alley, because I remembered there being little shops and coffee shops. I saw an Apostrophe, which wasn’t such bad news (and another Pret), but I decided to walk to the end of the street, see if I found something else. Worst case scenario, I would walk back and go to Apostrophe.
Bingo! I found a Costa Coffee. I had a breakfast (second breakfast), a flat white and a ham and cheese toastie, and enjoyed some relaxing time, using Shazam to find out the titles of the songs being played.
At 11.25am I made my way back to John Lewis. There were more people on the street (the shops were open), but it was still quite empty compared to, well, always.
I have to say something about John Lewis in Oxford Street. Their escalators freak me out. I always remember once I’m on them. There’s just so much space around them, that you can feel yourself falling off them, and the fact that they go flat for a couple of metres before escalating always makes my legs shake and I end up gripping the handrail. For some reason, I always consider taking the lift after the first floor, but there must be some masochistic side in me that doesn’t let me (or some sort of compulsive disorder, maybe the same one that forced me to keep reading all three Twilight books after I read the first one, and hated it).
I went straight to the fourth floor, where the haberdashery is, and I was greeted by the massive Lego Architecture figures. A huge Gherkin, and Globe Theatre, the Big Ben… and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Really cool.
Once I got to my destination, I had some questions. A lady helped me find some yarn in specific colours, and she was very sweet. There was another one I asked about needles to sew leather on the sewing machine, as well as few other questions, and she was helpful at first, but then she seemed annoyed. OK, I understand I asked about four questions, but I’ve worked in retail, and I’m always trying to be the least annoying I can, and always try to be polite. If she was annoyed because of me (me meaning a customer), she shouldn’t work in retail, and if she had a personal issue, she shouldn’t take it on me, not because I’m the customer, but because I’m being polite and trying to get out of her way as soon as possible. It’s basic manners, don’t you think?
At some point, she told me to ask the sewing machine expert, who was teaching a little girl how to wind the bobbin. I waited until she asked the girl to try, and I asked her quickly. My question was simple: can I just buy leather needles in order to sew leather on my sewing machine, or do I need to do something else, change the settings, or even buy another accessory? She was so dismissive and, I don’t know, I’m going to say annoyed, again, for lack of a better word. She looked at me up and down, and then talked at me, not to me, without making eye contact. Her answer was to buy the needles and try. I asked her if the worst that would happen was that the needle wouldn’t go through (as you can imagine, my main worry was Am I going to break my machine?) and she sort of looked at me, as if I was an idiot. I said thanks, and left her to her things.
When I went to buy fabric, the lady there also seemed unimpressed. Seriously, John Lewis, what’s with your staff? While she was cutting my fabric, I tried to talk to her about what I was going to make, to ask whether she thought that fabric was a good idea, or maybe she had a better suggestion. Lady, just even try to sell me a more expensive fabric! Seriously, engage with the bloody customer! She basically stared at me and asked if she should go ahead and cut the fabric or not. OK… Maybe it was me? Maybe in my mind I was being nice but in reality I was being rude?
If it wasn’t for the lady at the yarn section, and the one at the till, I would have left to never return. I have to say, I treated these two ladies as I treated the other ones, and they seemed to respond just fine. I’m going to choose to think the other two are simply not morning people.
Anyway, I finally left (to maybe return one day) and went to take my bus. I made it just in time, and sat upstairs. The bus driver was the slowest driver in the world. It was driving me crazy, mainly because I didn’t have that much battery left on my phone, and I knew the journey was a long one in itself, so I didn’t want to not have Spotify for like an hour. He was also stopping everywhere, regardless of whether someone wanted to get on or off the bus. When we were moving, he was driving at about two metres per hour (give or take). Finally, we made it to the New Cross area. I had to take another bus, which I could see in front of us, and which I missed (of course).
My next bus was supposed to come in 20 minutes. I remembered last time that happened, another bus arrived earlier, one that wasn’t displayed on the screen, so I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, my bus arrived… It was a bus that was indeed not shown on the screen, and which in the end arrived about one minute before the scheduled one.
The bus was packed and the journey wasn’t that great, because the driver liked to speed up at the last moment, to then having to step on the brakes suddenly. Everyone was struggling to stand.
As soon as we left the stop before mine, a couple standing next to me pressed the button. They were getting off at my same stop. We were approaching and the driver sped up, and I thought Is he going to brake suddenly, or is he going to miss the stop, because he’s going too fast to make it? and sure enough, he drove past the stop. I started pressing the button several times and he just looked from the mirror, I made a gesture like What the heck, man? and he just stared. He slowed down, I guess because he realised he had made a mistake. The guy next to me asked where the bus stop was, and I replied the driver had missed it, and kept pressing the button, and looking at the driver through the mirror, shaking my head. If I hadn’t been wearing my headphones, I would have shouted at him, but I didn’t want to overdo it… I even knew what I would have said (and yeah, I thought about it at the time, not ten minutes later, which is something…), I would have asked if the bell was purely decorative, sarcastically, of course.
I had to walk back home… Annoyed and fighting the crazy wind, that was using my oversized John Lewis bag to try to push me over.
However, I’m going to find a silver lining in all this… I missed the rain. When I got home, I took my coat off and unloaded my shopping, and then heard noise. I looked outside the window and saw it had just started raining a lot. So that’s something.
Also, I met some great people at the charity house. I saw a family who had stayed there while I was doing my training, and they were back, and they remembered me. We chatted a bit. Then I also met a family who were leaving during the night, and they happened to speak Spanish as well (and loved talking!). They were really nice.
I guess not everything was bad today anyway. I came back home with a lot of supplies (and with a shaking bank account), and I spent my day chatting to my friend on WhatsApp, and I missed the rain!
This evening I’ve watched series and looked for patterns for a beanie hat I’m making. I’ve started watching American Horror Story and so far I don’t really understand it. I know it creeps me out a bit, but I don’t get the story lines. I did guess correctly about the maid, so far, so I’m happy about that. It’s just weird though. I’m only on episode three (I think), and I’ve been told it takes about that number to start getting what’s going on, so we’ll see. Said that, I like it!
What have you been up to this weekend? Anything good? Has it been a smooth weekend or have you embarked on a quest, like I did today?