DDWID - Walk a Mile for Someone Else's Shoes

Memoirs of the Tried and Failed and Try Again

(Disclaimer, this is a work of fiction not my actual memoirs)

Yeah so we’re back to this, sorry people but I’ve got a story to tell; it’s not an important story nor is it a very extraordinary or inspiring story. But it is the story of an everyday guy, someone who has just enough to get by, who only sees what he needs and can’t even think about what he wants… but all he ever does is dream. If this is you then keep reading.

it was the start of a new year and Hernando decided it was about time we got a coffee table that wasn’t a stack of pizza boxes. So we took to the nearest junk yard, I know a lot of you reading this must be thinking ‘eeww!’ well I used to think that exact same way but then Hernando showed me the wonders of what another man’s trash could be, my treasure.

Anon: holy shit Hernando look at this, it’s Hellraiser on laserdisc!

Hernando: laser disc?

Anon: oh yeah it’s kinda like the missing link between VHS and our home video formats of today.

Hernando: it’s so big.

Anon: yeah, well I mean they had to be in order to store all that data, but they really did have the best picture quality; not even VCD’s were on par with the laser disc.

Hernando: VCD?

Anon: yeah, video compact disc; it’s what came after laser disc and before DVD.

Hernando: DVD?

Anon: are you telling me you don’t know what a DVD is?

Hernando shrugged his shoulders but I knew he wasn’t lying. He used a casket tape to record songs off CDs he borrowed from the library, weird thing was he never even returned the CDs.

Anon: what the fuck is that?

Hernando: it’s a coffee machine.

Anon: does it work?

Hernando: si.

Anon: wait how do you know it works did you test it?

Hernando: I drank from it.

Anon: you drank from it, how?! How?!

Hernando: I put the coffee in my hand like this and drink it.

Anon: you should not do that dude, there’s a reason they threw this away that coffee could be something rotten like dish water, but who doesn’t empty their coffee machine before they throw it away?

Hernando: rich fuckers, they get a new coffee machine and they say I don’t need this anymore and they throw it away.

Anon: they are wastemen, they are all wastemen! So we got the coffee machine now lets find the coffee table.

We’d rummage for hours finding treasures, like electronic photo frames, cutlery or a Nate Dogg album. I was kinda pissed off that someone would throw away a Nate Dogg CD but I always assumed it was because they bought the iTunes version. Or maybe a jealous girlfriend was on a spiteful rampage and fucked with her beau’s music collection cause she was a grade A bitch. But what really disheartened me while rifling through the general British public’s rubbish was the copious amount of dead animals, I mean it was like they filmed Pet Cemetery out there; cats, dogs, mice even birds.

As much fun as it was at the junk yard I had to go to work; so Hernando and I found the first table with more than two legs and carried it home. I’d catch a bus to go straight to work, and the wait would usually be longer than the journey itself; but on this particular day God had something else headed my way. The street I’d catch my bus is by no means a bad street, only one person had died on it so far this year but it wasn’t going to win any gold stars for good behaviour. So that’s why when a man collapsed in front of it I just dismissed it as drunken physics; you know that sate of alcoholic annihilation were you rediscover gravity.

Mr. Singh: arrgggh!

That’s not good, he shouldn’t be gasping for air like a fish out of water. So I turned to my fellow would be passenger, and he wouldn’t even look at me let alone the guy on the floor. I mean he made an observable effort to avert his gaze from anything that even had a reflective surface, like some kinda retarded meerkat. Working at a bar it occurred to me that I was in fact the only one best qualified to see to this man.

Anon: excuse me sir, I can see you’re having some trouble would you like my help?

The man was gasping and tearing at his chest; it was a brilliant John Hurt from Alien but I could see my bus in the distance so I knelt down and proceeded to try and help the man to his feet.

Anon: come on sir, let me help you up.

Mr. Singh: no… leave me here.

Anon: no I can’t leave you here I’ve got to- you’re having trouble breathing there… are you having a heart attack?!

I remember thinking to myself was that a shrug, and yes it was the man shrugged as to whether he was having a heart attack… or maybe it was the sort of frantic jerk you do during a seizure.

Anon: okay, I’m gonna call an ambulance sir.

Mr. Singh: no… don’t

Anon: sir, it’s okay emergency services don’t cost me any minutes it’s fine.

Mr. Singh: I want to die.

Anon: what?

This was one of those occasions in life where some other guy takes over, he kicks out the introverted thinker and starts taking action based solely on ‘what feels right at the time’. For example here was a man who wanted to fall on to the cold hard ground and give up the ghost, no kicking or screaming into the night like how he came into this world; no this man’s decision to die was driven purely by what felt right at the time as was mine. I didn’t want to see this man end his story like this; there are tragedies in life but the best ones are beautiful and hopeful in there own special way. There was nothing beautiful or special about dying on the pavement beside an east London bus stop; this was about as ugly as it can get. So rather than respecting the man’s decision I decided to call an ambulance. But that wouldn’t be enough to save him would it? There was something else calling this man, telling him to bury himself alive in the dirt that is regret and disappointment. I at the very least had to keep him awake, not because I knew it’d help him but because it was all I could do.

Anon: what’s your name?

Mr. Singh: errrmhmh… sssingh.

Anon: Singh? Okay Mr. Singh. Everything’s going to be okay the ambulance is on it’s way, they should be here very soon.

Mr, Singh: I’m cold.

It was then that he reached out and took my hand, I’d seen enough movies to know that was a bad sign.

Anon: do you want my jacket?

Mr. Singh: no.

Anon: are you sure?

Mr. Singh: my son…

anon: what’s that? Your son? What about you’re son?

Mr. Singh: he hates me… my son he hates me.

Anon: your son, what’s his name?

Mr. Singh: Raed…

After that he just kept shaking, and all that came out of him was undecypherable mumblings. I don’t know how long the ambulance took; my watch told me it was eight minuets but my head told me it was an hour. The lady paramedic and her colleagues practically had to shove him into the van. At the end of it all I was colder than I ever felt in a long time; my nose was dripping and freezing.

Ring ring… it was my boss. I missed not only one bus but two… this set me back by half an hour but surly a circumstance like this would be acceptable. I explained it to Mick over the phone and at the time he seemed completely sympathetic even signing off with ‘take your time, go be a hero.’ I now realise that was pretty condescending right? I’m such a fucking idiot. I was almost an hour late but Mick was such a fetus of a man he waited until after I finished by shift at 2 am before speaking to me.

Mick: listen Anon, I can’t promise you any more shifts.

Anon: what? Do you mean closing? Cause I’ve asked you for other shifts for like a year now.

Mick: no I’ve got a pretty good team to do the morning shifts and I can’t really rely on you to close anymore.

Anon: wait, what are you talking about, I’ve always closed, I’ve closed on my own; what the hell are you talking about?!

Mick: you were an hour late today.

Anon: I told you why didn’t I? I told you a guy collapsed in front of me having some kind of heart attack or seizure.

Mick: that’s a pretty good excuse I don’t think I’ve ever herd that one before.

Anon: it’s not an excuse it’s the truth, it actually happened.

Mick: did it now?

Anon: yes, the man was dying in front of me!

Mick: well maybe you should have let him die mate.

I’ve come across quite a few brown nosers in my short time on this Earth, I’m sure you have as well. You know the type of guy or gal who takes every fibre of their own identity and dignity, and then trade it in for some other cunt’s validation. Well Mick was that guy on crack, his whole life was the service industry. And the bar was his only purpose in life; that’s how he could justify saying such stupid shit. And the worst thing was I could see this guy trading a human life just for a clean bar room floor. He lived his life on both knees licking out the assholes of upper management like he was trying to reach the caramel centre of a Cadbury Cream Egg. I felt that guy from earlier kick his way back in to the driver seat. I wanted to break Mick down, not in a way that made him feel insecure (cause that would have been too easy, the guy was five foot five) but in way that would make him feel ashamed and question his whole role as a role human being.

Anon: shut up!

Yeah, shut up just felt like the right thing to say at the time; I wanted to let Mick have it sink in. Although that wasn’t the best send off I could have given I wasn’t worried, in fact I was truly surprised I lasted so long at the establishment; in over a year of employment at the place I think I’d only ever done four shifts completely sober.

It was all most three months before I found another job; not cause I was so unemployable but because I got distracted by such things as the central London night life, The Empire casino and selling home made phone cases at my own market stall. But while the break was both fun and atrocious I had to go back to work. What was this new job? Well I was a ‘brand ambassador’ for an electronic cigarette shop; what the fuck is a brand ambassador? Some kind of bubbly prick who sells you a brand they know absolutely nothing about… I think it’s pretty clear I’m not that guy, which is why I got fired after the first day.

Hernando: hola amigo.

Anon: hey man.

Hernando: what’s wrong? You look very upset.

Anon: oh, I just got fired.

Hernando: fucking hell man, after one day?

Anon: yeah.

Hernando: you must have been pretty shit.

Anon: I don’t know man, I think it’s cause I have a problem lying to people. Like if I think they’re an asshole I’ll just start mocking them straight to their face, and apparently that’s a bad thing.

Hernando: fuck them man, hey look at this.

Anon: ah nice! Another coffee machine, this is what the forth one so far?

Hernando: si. I found it at work.

Anon: the dumpster?

Hernando: si, they just threw it in there.

Anon: you find a lot of coffee machines at work is there like a Tasimo factory near you or something.

Hernando: I found something for you as well.

Anon: holy shit?! Is that a laser disc!

Hernando: si amigo.

Anon: you’re like Indiana Jones man, finding treasures from all over London’s dumpsters. Dirty Love… oh my god I think this is a porno.

Hernando: porno?

Anon: porno, pornography.

Hernando: ….

Anon: men and women having sex; mostly just women doing nasty things to each other.

Hernando: fucking hell this is a porno?

Anon: yeah it looks like it, I didn’t know they did these on laser disc. You’ve found a real rarity here Hernando, it belongs in a museum.

Hernando: it’s amazing.

Ring, ring…

Anon: what the hell?

Hernando: que?

Anon: it’s the bar I used to work for.

Hernando: answer it.

Anon: hello?

Dawid: hello, Anon?

Anon: yeah, it’s Anon; is this Mick?

Dawid: no this is Dawid, I’m the new bar manager.

Anon: what happened to Mick?

Dawid: Mick’s left.

Anon: oh, how come you’re calling me?

Dawid: well, I’m going through the books and I see you’re still on our payroll.

Anon: really? Sounds like you guys just forgot about me.

Dawid: yeah, well I wanted to ask you if you’d still like to work here?

In truth working back at the bar was the last thing I wanted to do. Dealing with drunk assholes is a hell in it’s own right, but when the drunk assholes in question are spoiled bankers and lawyers; that’s a whole new circle of hell not even Satan can approve of. What’s the punishment, nothing really; you’re just made to feel like a plankton at the bottom of the food chain; in an ego driven ecosystem inhabited by nothing other than sharks. But sometimes in life you’ve just got to swallow your pride and beg for your old job back.

Anon: yes! Absolutely, I always liked working there so sure no problem I’ll come back.

Dawid: well why don’t we meet in person then, when can you come down to the bar?

Anon: errh… today? Is today okay?

Dawid: yeah sure come down today, I’ll be in at three so come in anytime after that.

It would appear when one door closes another door that closed once before opens again… you can’t really summarize all of life with metaphors. Driven by the devastation of having lost my new job on the first day and the inability to actually pay my rent I ran down to the bar. All I can say is that in my head the scenario played out like this; I enter through the front door after a three month absence and my former colleagues flock to me, smiles all round as they each describe the hole that was created by my absence. But the moment I walked through the door I was greeted by an unfamiliar face at the door.

New person: the toilets are for customers.

Anon: what?

New person: alright if you must you can use the toilet, but please leave afterwards unless you’re going to buy a drink.

Anon: no, I used to work here.

New person: oh.

Anon: could you tell me where Dawid is?

New person: he’s in the office.

Anon: thanks… you don’t have to look at me like that I’m not gonna use the toilet.

New Person: are you gonna buy a drink?

I shook my head and she replied by rolling her eyes at me; cause that’s a reasonable response. As I walked through my old grounds two things became clear to me; first of all everybody working that day was new, and second they were really pandering to the elitist social group; ostracizing anyone with a hair out of place as soon as their feet touch the floor. When I got to the office door I debated whether to knock or just enter; I mean when I worked there walking straight in was always accepted, but this was a new management, a new status quo, could they have even changed their attitudes towards office room etiquette. No. its a fucking door. I walked straight in- no, I charged in swatting away the door like a mosquito… it didn’t open very far, as if it slammed against a door stop on the other side.

Dawid: arrgghh!


Anon: oh god, I’m so sorry.

Dawid: why didn’t you knock?

Anon: I’ve never knocked before, are you okay?

Dawid: yeah, sorry who are you?

Anon: I’m Anon we spoke over the phone earlier.

Dawid: oh, Anon. Right you wanted to talk about working here?

Anon: well yeah, I’ve already worked here.

Dawid: did you do a trial shift here or something?

Anon: no, I’ve worked here for a whole year.

Dawid: you did? What happened?

Anon: management completely forgot about me.

Dawid: I see.

Anon: so you know, if you want me to work here I’m absolutely cool with it.

Dawid: well, let’s talk first I want to know what you can do.

Anon: you want to know what I can do? I can do everything, I told you I’ve been working here for a year. Why don’t you ask Oscar, he’ll tell you what I’m like.

Dawid: yes, but I like to make my own decisions. Why don’t you first start by telling me about your work experience?

Anon: my work experience my work experience is this.

Dawid: okay and what did you do here?

At this point my situation finally sank in, I wasn’t here to get my job back.

Anon: I’m sorry, but it sounds like you’re interviewing me for a job I’ve already done. In fact it sounds like I’m still employed here, the job is still mine; so why are you speaking to me like this?

Dawid: look I’m just trying to gauge what you’re like, you say you’ve done the job but I’ve never heard of you.

Anon: none of the guys ever mentioned me?

Dawid: no.

Anon: not even Lena.

Dawid: no nothing about you.

Anon: really? We kinda had a thing… I thought if anyone would remember me it’d be her…

Dawid: I’m sorry, honestly I just dug your name out of the system. I saw you’re name on the payroll but it never came up on any of the schedules. I’m just trying to sort out the books.

Anon: why am I here then?

Dawid: I just wanted to know what your current employment situation is like.

Anon: my current employment situation? My current employment situation is there isn’t one.

Dawid: well Anon, I can’t really promise you anything; I’m only looking for someone who can do part time.

Anon: I can do any time.

I could read his face like a book, he didn’t want what I was selling him. He never intended to give me my job back, he wanted a neat and tidy rota that’s why he contacted me; he wanted my approval to fire me. This meant to be simple; he’d call me and ask about my situation; I’d tell him no thank you I’m on to bigger and better things now, he’d feel good about himself and the work schedule would have been more organised. But when he called he never expected to find a desperate loser on the other end. He was probably a decent guy, but his awful grasp of the English language instilled a false sense of hope into me; in the end all it did was make a mockery of my self esteem.

Dawid: I’m sorry but… I’m looking for a certain type of person and-

Anon: It’s okay Dawid, look I just wanted to come back cause I thought the staff here actually wanted me back, but I’m guessing most of the guys don’t even work here anymore. I’m done, I’m sorry for making this so awkward.

I want to make something clear here to the reader, and it’s about failure. Failure is all about perception, the way we perceive a circumstance can determine whether we ‘failed’ or ‘succeeded’. It would have been so easy to let this drown me, to let it hold my head under the waves of self loathing and fear, but when you’ve failed as many times as I you tend to let these inconveniences wash over you. And can I call it failure? I managed to get fired twice in one day from two different places; and when you take in to account that one of the firings was for a job I was already fired from once before, that makes it a hat trick.

You’d think after being sacked enough times to last a life time I’d go home and put an end to this sorry day, and that was exactly what I intended; but in London it can be so easy to become sidetracked. I was moments away from the bus stop when an elderly German man approached me asking for directions. He bared such a striking resemblance to Werner Herzog, I felt compelled to help him; but why the fuck are these guys always looking for the most obscure places. He wanted me to help him find a blue anchor. I didn’t know where it was, so this would have been the point were I apologize for my incompetence and we’d go our separate ways. But after years of abusing my brain with substances and TruTV I opted to personally see this man to his destination.

Anon: don’t worry sir I got a GPS on my phone. Hhmm, that’s strange a lot of the streets listed on my map aren’t even around anymore, maybe it’s cause I’m using an iPhone 3?

Suffice to say using a phone with an out of date map was a bad call on my part, but this guy should have known better than to blindly follow. I could have taken him to a dark corner of a estate, and proceed to furiously beat him to the floor with clenched fists and take his euros. Fortunately for him I always mean well, unfortunately for him I have such a poorly functioning brain finding my way to the bathroom can stump me. We had covered several miles before the sun began to set, by then my elderly friend from Frankfurt was exhausted but with the promise of his destination he powered through. After a while I called it quits with my phone and just decided to guide him with my instincts.

Frankfurt: you keep looking at the bus maps do you not know where to go?

Anon: don’t worry I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.

Frankfurt: you said that almost an hour ago. I want to ask someone else for directions?

Anon: go on but no one knows where the hell this blue anchor is.

Frankfurt: it’s on St. James’ Street.

Anon: do you know how many St. James’ Streets there are in London?

Frankfurt: just ask someone!

Anon: alright, I’ll ask this guy.

Frankfurt had begun to ware down my patience but I wasn’t going to abandon him. But I was going to be vindicated, I just can’t stand asking for directions so my idea was to find the most unreliable source and ask them. The worse the answer the better I look. It was a long empty back street, steam poured from the pipes attached to the cold warehouses and factories; and from the smoky veil stumbled out a disheveled figure. He was perfect. An idiot by design.

Anon: I’m gonna ask this guy.

Frankfurt: are you sure, he doesn’t look like you should go near him.

Anon: excuse me, do you know where St. James Street is?

Jimmy: help me mate.

Anon: errr, I actually I need you to help us.

Jimmy: if you help me I can help you mate.

I literally counted all the teeth in his mouth, it was about seven or nine.

Anon: what do you need hep with man?

Jimmy: Big Dave.

Anon: Big Dave?

Jimmy: yeah, Big Dave. He came up to me with his dog chain and hit me with it-

Frankfurt: he hit you with his dog?

Jimmy: no there was no dog, just the dog chain.

Frankfurt: this man’s walking around with a dog chain but no dog?

Jimmy: yeah he doesn’t have a dog. He hit me with the chain and took my wallet. See I’m bleeding from my head.

Yeah he was bleeding all over, at first I thought he was sweaty but he was just layered in blood.

Jimmy: Big Dave then came back and he tried to help me.

Anon: Big Dave tried to help you?

Jimmy: yeah, then he hit me with the chain again.

Anon: he fooled you huh, he you fooled you twice really.

Jimmy: he took my shoes.

I glanced down and sure enough old Jimmy Two Shoes had no shoes. He was stood in the middle of the street in grey socks.

Frankfurt: what sort of man beats another man like an animal and then take his shoes; this city’s barbaric.

Jimmy: that’s why I need your help mate. I need to get my shoes back.

Anon: sorry man, but I don’t want to deal with Big Dave.

Frankfurt: I like my shoes.

Jimmy: he’s not even that big mate, they call him Big Dave cause he’s short. If you two back me up I’ll pay you fifty quid each.

Anon: okay.

Frankfurt: what?

Jimmy wasn’t lying Big Dave wasn’t big by any stretch of the imagination; whoever was handing out the nicknames in the area certainly had a sense of humour. This guy was the size of Danny Devito, he moved liked he was slipping through several dimensions all at once. He was tripping something fierce in a small park behind Whitechaple station. I didn’t even question what I was doing; I had that fifty pounds in my sight. Jimmy Two Shoes wanted me to get back his trainers but the only trainers Big Dave had were the ones on his feet… ones which looked like they were three sizes too big in fact.

Anon: man, I think he’s wearing your shoes.

Jimmy: get them back.

Anon: I thought we were just meant to back you up?

Franfurt: I don’t want to be apart of any of this!

Anon: look he’s fucking out of it we can probably just peel them off his feet.

Sure enough with hands so steady they could perform a surgery we managed to remove Jimmy mouldy trainers from Big Dave; who was some what aware of what we were doing, he helped to untie the shoe laces.

Jimmy: cheers mate, I owe you man; any time you need me I’ll be there.

Anon: actually you know, I just want the fifty pounds.

Jimmy: oh yeah I can’t actually pay you, Big Dave took my wallet.

At least I managed to perform this job properly. As for my role as a guide…

Frankfurt: thank you, but I’m going to go home now.

Anon: what? What about the blue anchor? We can still find it, I’m sure were close.

Frankfurt: I don’t think we are, but I don’t care anymore I just want to go home now.

Anon: okay, well maybe next time.

Frankfurt: no, there never be a next time. I just asked you for directions and you proceeded to make me walk the entire length of east London, with no water or food and savages stealing Adidas shoes from one another.

Anon: I was just trying to help man.

Frankfurt: don’t ever help, you only make things worse; you’re like a cartoon character whose incompetence reaches new heights every time you think!

Anon: okay, well I won’t lie I do seem to have a habit of helping people against their will.

Frankfurt: thank you but auf wiedersehen.