As I walked to work this morning I encountered a man, I think, talking to his bike. He had propped it against a bike rack and stepped back to check its alignment. He was in his mid-forties, bearded, and seen better days. Coming close you could sense a mild case of derangement. He muttered to himself, or the bike, I couldn’t tell, dissatisfied that it wasn’t quite aligned right. He would glance from the bike to somewhere on the other side of Elizabeth Street, like a surveyor making minute corrections. As I watched, he would step forward and make some subtle adjustment to make sure the bike matched the mysterious alignment he sought, but stepping back, he shook his head again muttering, still not satisfied. I wondered what it would take to make him satisfied, but by then, I had walked by.
There are people like that sprinkled throughout the big city these days, so much that they are no more than a passing curiosity. A few moments before, walking through the Bourke St Mall, a man of colour sitting on the steps of the old GPO was playing an odd tune on a whistle, before breaking into a rich and boisterous laugh as he finished. Before him we wage slaves dressed in our suits and fine clothes crossed backwards and forwards barely giving him a second look. As I passed him an unmarked police car travelling down the mall gave a whoop of its siren as crossed into Elizabeth street, and our man gave a loud cheer of encouragement.
There are different lives all over. I’m sitting in a cubicle eighteen floors up with the glow of a monitor in my face and a freshly bought latte by my right hand. My day is tapping at this keyboard and going to meetings.