Saturday, August 3, 2013

Four small incidents in Erin

There was a pretty blonde Irish lass in Cork who worked in a coffee shop. One day some guy she never met before, speaking English but with a strange accent, came up to her (she was behind the counter) and warned her that the sign above the coffee shop door was loose and would doubtless fall soon if left unattended. ‘Tanks a million,’ she replied. The fellow paused – was she being a little sarcastic? She looked peeved. The man smiled inwardly (betraying a little of it outwardly too, no doubt) because she looked even prettier when she was angry. The man returned to his seat. A short while passed and then a crash! The sign had fallen to the ground – luckily no one was underneath it when it happened.

Will she remember those events, that customer? I think she’ll remember, if she does, that she was having a bad day once, when she was working in her early twenties.


It was bitterly cold – one of the harshest winters in Ireland, they said. There was a shop – a small general store, I believe ‘twas in Courtmacsherry (CĂșirt Mhic Seafraidh – pronounce that if you can!). The woman who ran the shop said to us as we were leaving with our ice creams (oh, yes! – ice cream in winter’s good!) that we should remember them. What she meant was that we should remember them in Ireland suffering from the cold when we experience once again our warm and sunny climes in our own country. I don’t think I’ll ever forget.


An electrician had been called to deal with a problem where we were staying in Courtmacsherry. The owner of the place asked if I’d lead the electrician to the source of the problem. I had to get up early to do so, and it was very cold, and overcast. A very grey day. I met the electrician, We exchanged hello’s, and as we were walking to the electrical box or metre or whatever it was that was causing the problem, he completely surprised me! What he said that astounded me was, ‘It’s a beautiful day today.’ Such simple words but I was amazed. He wasn’t joking or pulling my leg. He meant it. I almost felt like telling him he should see my country to appreciate a beautiful day but I kept silent. All I could muster was a feeble: ‘Yes, but yesterday was also beautiful.’ What a lost opportunity! What should I have said to this remarkable person? I should have said, ‘Yes, it is,’ and smiled my warmest smile.


We had to take the bus to Cork. We made a few stops to pick up people. Two young girls boarded and took their seats. My brother caught a snippet of their conversation. One of them said, ‘It’s lousy!’ My brother repeated it to me afterwards trying to say it as they said it, ‘Lowssy!’ Not even close. He was very amused by it. It’s funny how a simple phrase can make two young gals very loveable.

On the same bus a man came in by himself. I guess it was the day he had chosen to go to Cork to do some shopping – perhaps buy a book or two. It was his outing day. He was not old but no longer young either, perhaps in his late forties or early fifties. He sat down. At some point, I can’t remember precisely when, we glanced at each other. We paused. I didn’t have to say a word. He didn’t have to say a word. There was complete understanding between us. He was probably the only man in Ireland with whom I would have dearly loved to talk but it wasn’t necessary. He smiled. I must’ve smiled too. It’s rare to meet someone on the same spiritual level as you are. It’s comforting to know that you’re not alone in this world.

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