Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My trip to work

Each morning, I rush downstairs to wait outside the Screenroom for my lift who arrives at 6.30am. And, each day, the morning starts like this:

Alan (opening the back door and putting briefcase on backseat):

Morning D.
D (barely audible mumble as I get into the passenger seat):

Sometimes, that’s all that’s said until I thank him an hour and 15 minutes later when we arrive in Northampton. Sometimes, there'll be about 5 minute’s worth of conversation initiated by me about the weather.

But, it’s not as if there’s total silence in the car. Radio 4 is on.

Half an hour into the journey, I’ll find that my left eye starts to close. That lasts for a while before the right one does the same. Minutes later, I’ll be in a surreal trance where I’m asleep but fully aware of John Humphrys. If D brakes suddenly, an eye, usually the left one, will open. Breaking really sharply will get both eyes open for a while. At moments like those, I feel like we’re encased in a cocoon that’s edging its way through massed ranks of vehicles. It's the M1 - those ARE massed ranks of vehicles on every side! Sometimes one or both eyes will slowly open without any prompting from the brakes.

That’s when I seem to be hallucinating.

Spaces become shapes; shapes become spaces. The front moves sideways; the left side gets shallower, sometimes deeper. I've felt the hot breath of a truck's exhaust on my cheek and driven up ramps into pantechnicons and trucks in front. I've even seen the faces peering out at me from the caravans to my left and right in front of us. The lines in the road rise up into fences. Too close, really, for comfort, yet strangely comforting.

In the early days of getting my daily lift, I sat there like a motionless mannequin. Apart from the eyes, of course. More like an aged doll, perhaps. But now I lean, listing to the side, or backwards, mostly to the front. I don’t know if I snore (I hope not), but I definitely don’t dribble. Every now and again, my listing exceeds a tipping point (it never seems to be the same) and my neck snaps. Backwards or forwards, never in both directions straight after each other.

That can hurt. It wakes me up for a while.

As I said, not a word gets said until I mumble my thanks when we arrive at the office. Well, not usually. Today, right in the middle of an eye-roll, D commented on the news. I may be in a trance but my mind remains tuned into the radio. I replied, perfectly aware of what he was talking about. At least, I tried to. My lips seemed paralysed until, after a brief pause, they emitted a little explosion. I think it was intelligible but I can't be sure. D didn’t comment.

I was properly awake for quite a while after that.

Travelling back in the evening follows the same pattern with a few differences. We talk for longer but I fall into my trance quicker. Instead of John Humphrys, I have Eddie Mair to tune into.

The listing and leaning are the same.

Yes, I'm not really a morning person as you may have gathered if you read this post. Or this one.


Blogger Qenny said...

What a very understanding and obliging chauffeur you seem to have.

4:02 pm  
Blogger Caroline said...

Beware who you let put suggestions into your head... and I know that lip explosion thing I do it in trance sometimes too.

5:25 pm  
Blogger andrea said...

Fortunately for you, D doesn't sound like a morning person either. It could be *so* much worse (she said, thinking of certain individuals).

5:30 pm  
Blogger JP said...

The broken necked chicken...I do that all the time on the train when I'm trying not to nod off...I hate it, but it's better than dribbling.

6:41 pm  
Blogger Saddle Up said...

I do this too... You are not alone.

Exactly the same for me... except D is called M.

11:38 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

qenny: Well, he does get paid for the privilege of having me rocking and rolling next to him twice a day.

caroline: eddie mair, the scourge of any politician, could easily influence me to do anything with that voice of his.

andrea: he's quite alert in the mornings; its the evenings I worry about as he would love to nod off but he's the driver.

jp: never heard it called that before but a very apt description.

saddle up: beam me up, Scottie. Or something.

11:44 pm  
Blogger Tammy said...

Maybe its time to start taking out books on take from the library!!

12:54 am  
Anonymous xmichra said...

I just can't get pas tthe fact that you get a ride from a professional driver every day! Lucky man.

4:10 am  
Blogger Dawn said...

I used to have similar experiences on the Jubilee Line - it was astonishing what my mind would do to the stone faced passengers around me in that almost asleep/awake zone. Not drooling is good - but I have to ask, what's the status on the breath situation - is it still fresh from the morning brush or a bit hot and dry from the snooze? Is 'Gaunty' still on the air - he was the journalist I'd listen to on THREE COUNTIES RADIO just before he moved to the London whatever show.

p.s. access gained only through the email link - so not sure what's up with all that!

5:59 am  
Anonymous patita said...

Ugh, not a morning person myself! I used to have a nodding armadillo on my dash. It never failed to frighten my passengers when they first saw it. Perhaps I should send you one to keep you alert? ;)

(the word verification is kspuucz--an approximation of the mouth explosion?!)

6:18 am  
Blogger Rob7534 said...

And you're sure you didn't smoke anything before you get into the car? All those altered states consciousness, you had me fooled for a moment.

7:07 am  
Blogger ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

I don't that I can shut up for an hour and 15 minutes. Seems like such a waste of time.

7:53 am  
Blogger nyasha said...

i couldn't keep up with a schedule like that! 3 hours of commuting - that is pure madness! 6.30 am is when my alarm clock goes off.
By the way, D called me the other day and told me that you dribble - plenty! *wink wink*

8:16 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Tammy: Without social interaction, I’d also fall asleep if I were to read.

Xmichra: Professional driver? He may drive well but he’s a colleague who appreciates having someone help out with the petrol money.

Dawn: I doubt that the breath is that good but it’s quickly rectified by a cup of coffee and a fag after I get to work. Eewww, I can hear you say! I don’t know Gaunty so can’t tell you about him. Glad that you could link even if not by the usual route.

Patita: The sleep is probably good for me as I don’t sleep that many hours at night. Actually, I’d prefer to have more conversation.

Rob: Nothing more than nicotine. Who’d have thought one could get high from sleeping in the car?

Chitty: I’m not a constant chatterbox and I enjoy silences but I’d very much prefer more conversation with this guy. When I first started getting a lift with him I tried my best but it just wouldn’t flow properly. He seems to be quite extroverted with his other colleagues so it may have something to do with me? Oh, well, woteva, to quote my daughter.

Coffee addict: It definitely is madness and usually I’d have moved to where I work but Northampton is such a dull dump that I chose to stay on in Nottingham, a much nicer city, where I have friends. Now which D would you be talking about, I wonder? There is another D who would have rather intimate knowledge about my dribbling habits.

8:56 am  
Blogger Caroline said...

So if Eddie Mair could influence you to do anything I'll have to write in with a few suggestions...

1:53 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

caroline, you are making me nervous!!

10:39 pm  

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