There I was, minding my own business, when a complete stranger strolled up to me and put my life in very real danger. He didn’t have a knife, nor did he threaten to nudge me into the flow of oncoming traffic. He did something far, far worse. Quite simply, he uttered the dreadful words no sane person ever wants to hear: “Sorry, would you mind watching my bag for me whilst I pop to the loo?”
What a c**t. Does he have no shame?! For a man who worries as much as I do, this was the verbal equivalent of smashing my face in with fully-grown, adult male grizzly bear. I was right up the shitter and no mistake. The rules of conduct state that there was nothing I could do. You simply can’t say no to that request, no matter how dangerous a proposition it truly is. Better to go down in a blaze of glory than be regarded as a right rotten shit.
So off he trotted, leaving me with his bag, at which point four possibilities started racing through my mind.
1) The bag has a bomb in it and I’m standing here right at the epicentre of the shit storm. Not only am I going to be shortly pulverised into some kind of fleshy soup, but CCTV images will later identify me as the murderer of countless other innocent victims. Of course, the alternative is that I call the police and waste everyone’s time as they shut off the whole of London to carry out a controlled explosion on a bag probably containing nothing more dangerous than an A4 jotter and a flapjack. Ruddy Hell.
2) What if someone takes a liking to the bag and decides to try stealing it? As temporary custodian of said oversized satchel, it will be my responsibility to either give chase or engage the would-be thief in an ugly bout of mortal combat. There’s a very real chance that I’m going to get my face punched off simply because one bag-carrying bastard can’t control his bladder. Awful. £10 says the thief is Jean Claude Van Damme too. Great, now I’m going to get my face kicked to smithereens.
3) What if he never comes back? I can’t leave it now; the verbal man-contract is utterly binding. Will I have to stand here with this distasteful rucksack forever and ever and eternity? Will I slowly ebb away right here in public as some idiot’s backpack stares at me with its zipper like a shit-eating grin? Panic heightens.
4) Of course there’s always the chance he’ll come back in about four minutes time, thank me and head off with his leathery, bag-shaped mistress to torment some other poor bugger. All my worrying will have been for nothing. He’ll have made an idiot and a victim of me in one terrible swoop.
As it happens, he returned quicksmart, thanked me endlessly and was utterly apologetic. So I kicked him in the neck and told him to grow up.