This afternoon I went for my Habit Reversal Therapy. I got to the station earlier than normal and asked a member of staff for information about the next train. I had the feeling he wasn’t really listening and just wanted me to go away but he did tell me the train time and platform. I caught the train he’d told me to get only to discover he’d told me the wrong one.
I got off at the next station feeling put out. I had no idea where I was, so I went to the ticket office to ask for help. The station was quiet, with only one member of staff around, a West Indian man in his sixties. He looked baffled by my behaviour but wasn’t unpleasant. I explained my tics, and after a frustratingly drawn-out conversation we established that the only way I could get to my appointment on time was to get a cab.
The man gave me the number of a local taxi firm and I booked one and went outside to wait. I leaned against a wall and my annoyance melted away in the warmth of the sunshine. The member of staff came out and joined me. We had a great conversation – he swung wildly between amusement at what I was saying and pity and concern for me. He asked some thoughtful questions, and responded to all my answers by saying how sorry he was. I explained he didn’t need to be sorry and that though Tourettes is tricky I was fundamentally OK.
When the cab arrived we shook hands and said goodbye. I thanked him for his help and he told the taxi driver to look after me. Just as I got into the cab he gestured at me to wind the window down. To my surprise he reached in and patted me on the head, and stroked my hair.
The cab pulled away, and I was grinning from ear to ear. I’ve never been patted on the head before, and I didn’t mind at all because I knew it was a gesture of kindness, not condescension.
I think everyone in the world could do with a reassuring pat on the head from time to time. The world feels far to insular most of the time, though.