She was sitting 3 rows in front of me on the bus from Oxford down to London. Dangly earrings. Cool leather jacket. Handbag probably fashionable (I wouldn’t know). She opens it and takes out a copy of my book – pristine, red first edition of From Poverty to Power. OMG.
What do I do, shout ‘hey that’s my book’? Bus too crowded, and anyway too sad/creepy, so I watch what she does next (also quite creepy, I guess). And then I remember twitter – this is what it was made for:
‘Woman on bus takes out pristine copy of From Pov 2 Power. V excited. But then plays w phone n stares into space instead of opening it. Agony’
‘She opens it. Back of head supremely bored. Plays w hair, earring. 5m on same page then checks phone. This is hell. Still 30m to my stop.’
And the stuff that doesn’t fit into 140 characters? The way the back of her head radiated boredom, the idle flipping through the pages. The gulf between her stake in all this and mine – will she get into it, absorb/argue/dispute? Or fling it casually on a pile of unread books, a passing fad – ‘do you remember that time when I bought all those awful politics books and couldn’t finish any of them? Ha!’
She gets off at Baker St – I feel relief mixed with loss. Now I’ll never know her name or why she had my book. But judging by her reaction so far, that’s probably just as well.
Actually, there has been one comparable moment. Many years ago, in the LSE library, I saw a student slumped across a book I had edited. He was fast asleep. Worrying pattern emerging here.
Any similar tales out there?
Update: thanks for the comments – chortling happily over them