“Hey Nav, I know you are on your break, but could you come out for a minute please?” Whispers my colleague urgently on the other end of the line. “There is a guy here who is acting a bit weird. I think he is on drugs or something…”
“Ahrrm, but is he being abusive though?” I grumble, being not particularly fond of dealing with drug over-dose cases on my break.
“Nah, but he is a bit … Can you please just come out and talk to him? He is a bit creepy…”
“How can I help you bud?” I announce my arrival onto the scene emphatically, just as I realise I still have a grain of brown rice stuck to my front teeth.
He turns around, a little startled, as if pulled right out of some place far on the world map he was staring at.
I have come out to deal with this trouble-maker who dared interrupt my break like a ball-breaker, but somehow, I find myself warming to him instantly. He is dressed in a stained white T-shirt, and a hoodie that must have been red at some point in time, and yet somehow, there is a certain charm in his careless dress code. His blonde, rough beard is at least a week old, but it somehow goes well with his angular face and deep-set blue eyes; lending him the aura of a man meant to be out on the open seas or the slopes of some mighty mountain. And although there is a certain cloud of confusion shrouding his features, I don’t think him to be on drugs.
I invite him to take a sit at my desk, addressing him just like any other client of mine. I try not to pay too much attention to his attire, and he doesn’t seem to judge himself based on the way he is dressed either. And I can respect that.
“Hey, I just had a question man; what do I need to travel?” He says, his eyes both looking at me and at something far beyond which the rest of us can’t see.
“Yea, sure mate. Where do you want to go?”
“Anywhere… Maybe Thailand?”
“Okay. Well, you need a ticket, and a passport.” I reply. “Those are the must-have’s. When are you looking to head off?”
“You need a passport…?” He chews and tastes the words for a moment, like he is tasting a new food he had never even heard of.
“You know, I’ve never travelled before. Never even left Melbourne…” He says, looking at his hands.
“That’s fine. There is always a first time for everything.” I assure him. “So when did you want to go?”
“Okay, and how long did you want to stay there?”
“I’m not coming back. A friend of mine has a place down in one of the islands. maybe I can stay there for a while. I’m done here…”
“I’m not sure if you can do that mate. You can only stay for up to 30 days without a visa in Thailand.”
“Yeah? But I’ve to go man. There is nothing here for me. Not anymore.”
“Have you got your passport ready? Do you want to book your flight today?” I ask, quashing my desire to ask him what had happened to make him want to leave…
“No. I have to get it. So you just need a passport, and a plane ticket? That’s all?” I can tell he is already heading back to his reverie.
“Well, those, and a place to go to if you are coming back.”
“Yeah, I’ll find a place, alright. Can’t stay here no more. That’s for sure.” He gets up to leave as suddenly as he had come.
“Alright, thanks a lot man. I’ll go sort out a passport and come see you after.” He smiles, somewhat sadly.
“Yeah, for sure man.” I don’t know what to say. I get up to shake his hand.
“Sometimes, you just gotta go man…” He says over his shoulder as he walks away.
“Yeah man, I’ve been there. Sometimes, you just have to go…” I say, as much to him as to myself, and a little too loudly, oblivious of the others in the store who have been eavesdropping on us the whole time, because I want him to know that I wish him nothing but luck.
And that this time, I didn’t mind my break being interrupted one bit.