19 martie 2016

Don't you look at me, Cardboard man!

There I was, taking a stroll down a boulevard in the city of Bristol. For the past ten minutes, not one single trash can to throw my gum. This sort of thing would be dealt with differently back in Romania, as I wouldn't have to think twice before throwing my gum wherever I'd be. Not that I am the kind of person who doesn't care about littering, but because I feel comfortable enough to not care about the law. 

In England, however, it was another matter completely. Going on a vacation in another country, which in most cases means it's some place where the people are more civilized and the laws are actually followed, I always go into this self-conscious state of mind and actively think about what I'm doing and if it's the right way to do it. Things like jaywalking, littering, smoking in public spaces or, I don't know, pissing in a corner, are straight up life in jail sentences in my mind. 

So, yeah, there I was overthinking what to do with this gum that I chewed on for the past half an hour, since there was no way I would just throw it on the sidewalk and move on. It was kind of late at that time, but people were still present on the streets and my idea was to at least throw the gum when it was just me and the other people in my group. But I made a bad call, thinking that a trash can would show up soon, so I took the gum out of my mouth and held it in my palm with false hope.

As we continued walking, gum in hand and no god damned trash can in sight, I seized an opportunity when we took a right turn and saw no people roaming on the street ahead. Even better, a sewer grate would cross my path in just a few steps, so that was the perfect moment.

Aim, shoot, miss. The stupid gum was now too sticky to roll into the fathoms of the sewer and it remained there, glued to one of the grates and sticking out like a star on the night sky. But the mission was completed, at least. No one saw me do it and it was almost perfect.

Why I felt an irrational uneasiness about it, soon became clear to me with an even more irrational turn of events. When I raised my head to look away from the sticky gum, my head turned left towards the store we were passing by at that time.

There he was, smiling right at me and his eyes piercing through my soul, dressed in blue overalls while holding a hammer to show he is a working man. I knew he must have seen me, specifically smiling to let me know he knows what I did, even though that was actually impossible. It was a god damned cardboard cut out of a man, lifesized and placed in the shopfront, right there where I chose to break the law. And I hated him so great, I wanted to break the glass and tear him apart.

Don't you look at me, Cardboard man!
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