There's no escape from old people. I spent a lot of my weekend on the phone to them. They call in for all sorts of reasons. They fall over or get ill or burn their steak or worse still, they die on us. It's an intense sort of job.
"My purse fell down the toilet," announced one lady today.
"Oh dear. What happened?"
"It was in my pocket, and I bent over, and it fell out of my pocket, plop. I feel so stupid."
"You shouldn't feel stupid… it's easy enough done!"
"One press of the button and it was gone."
For the next fifteen minutes she outlined this very complex tale. Between the accent and her rising level of distress, it was hard to figure out what was going on. Soon enough I realised that it had been sorted for her, now she just needed to vent a little.
"Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Would it do any good to call a plumber?"
"Well, it's been 24 hours, I'm not sure what they could do…"
"Oh hen. I'm so sorry to be taking up your time, I'm so sorry."
"Not at all! You can talk to us any time you like!"
"It's just been a bad day, hen. A bad day."
After my shift, it seemed I was the only one on the bus without a snowy white perm. The main topic of conversation, as always, was the buses. How late the buses are, how early the buses are, how they go too fast, how they brake too sharply, with bonus commentary on every bus that passes.
"I waited 15 minutes for the 1."
"Well I stepped out the door 5 minutes before the 1 was due and it whizzed right past me."
"Oh look, there's another 1 now in the other direction."
"Aye. And there's a 2 coming roond the roondabout."
"Hold on, looks like another 2 behind it."
"Two 2's in a row, that's no' right."
"You're right. Now there's a 22. Where's the 22 off to?"
"I don't get the 22. I like the 1 or the 2."
"Aye. Me too."
A brown perm with a tweed coat sat down beside me, just as we went past a pub. There were a dozen skinny lads lurking round the door, one of them sprawled on the pavement with his face covered in blood.
"Oooh what's going on there?" she asked me, without waiting for an answer. "You know they try and try to make this city more beautiful, but the likes of them just love to ruin it."
There was a chorus of creaky ayes around the bus.
Finally it was my stop. I was leaning against the pole, trying to stay awake, when I noticed an old man watching me with a goofy grin. I raised an eyebrow.
"Smile, hen! Even though yer heart is breaking."
I laughed, hopped off the bus and took my breaking heart home, where I could finally talk to someone under seventy.