It had been a long few hours in the library, the study load was a heavy weight on my shoulders, and I couldn’t seem to shake the stress. I went and sat down on the grass to eat and reflect on my current situation; a well earned break in a barrage of assignments. I couldn’t help but think I might be out of my depth in this welcoming, friendly place of learning.
When I finally made it into a relaxed state and was aware of my surroundings, I could hear a loud agitated voice coming from behind me over by a tree. This man was having a bad time, he was on one knee with the other pulled up to his chest, a very uptight position. He was moving his free hand about as his emotionally charged words resonated loudly throughout the park. If this guy was having a bad time, the person on the other end of his smartphone probably wasn’t feeling any better. “This is crap, this is just crap! If you guys had gotten your shit together, this wouldn’t have happened!” His exasperation was made apparent in his breathing; audible and through clenched teeth.
It seemed he was in an argument with his bank in regards to a credit card payment that he had missed. Apparently he had little to no money at this point. “I borrowed $50 dollars off of my mum to scrape by this week and can barely afford a coffee and a muffin.” The stress in his voice remained consistent, but I found this particular statement amusing. This guy was well dressed: collared shirt, jeans, nice coat, he was even talking through a set of earphones. He didn’t mind that he was being loud, or perhaps he didn’t know. It was as if he was yelling at the world around him, as if it were the trees of Henderson Park that had cut his funds. It was as if this man thought he was the only struggling university student on campus! I could understand his struggle though; how is one supposed to function properly without first consuming a blueberry-banana muffin?
At this moment I decided this man and I could not be friends; a person of the spoon-fed variety. If “scraping by” is going a day without a coffee and a muffin, I’ve certainly done the hard yards. Some of his words were unanticipated and somewhat out of place as though his argument was rehearsed to an extent, or as if he had been running through this very conversation repeatedly in his head. His sentences were structured and unfaltering, and his voice upheld the vitriol that the receiver had by now, become quite familiar with. What certainly grabbed me and I will admit, made me chuckle, was this: ‘Do I just not eat? Go to a soup kitchen or something? How will I pay rent? Should I just live on the street and shit at McDonald’s?’ A blatant disregard for his fellow park-goers.
The man was freaking out and he had begun to speak irrationally. This is when I realised he could really be in a bad situation; his priorities were all askew. But then I thought, is a coffee and a muffin really worth more than a place to live? I didn’t let this man’s poor attitude anger me, I did cringe once or twice, but instead I was relieved. It was comforting to know that someone was having a worse day than I was; at least I could afford some katsu chicken sushi with an iced cappuccino.