The woman standing at the front of the Pulse bus had a tote bag slung nonchalantly over one shoulder. On both front and back of the bag, the slogan: "This bag is filled with joy!"
Now as regular readers know, I am always on the lookout for joy in everything I do, everywhere I go, and in everyone I meet. Sometimes it is harder to find joy than at other times - life is like that - but that shouldn't stop the search. And here, surely,
is what I have been looking for - a bag-full of the Joyful Stuff. Presumably at tricky moments, such as when I couldn't get Internet connection the other week, I would have been able, had I owned such a bag, to simply reach inside, pluck out a handful or two
and, hey presto, Joy would return to my life.
Was the woman one of Santa's Little Helpers, I wonder, sussing out the situation ahead of time with regard to those for whom Christmas Joy may be sadly lacking
this year, who would deserve a bit of joy tucked into the toe of their Christmas stocking. It may be just a tangerine to you, but it's joy to someone. I could imagine her setting off from the North Pole with her bag over her shoulder and Santa's parting words
ringing in her ears: "Take the pulse of the town!" he will have exhorted her, little supposing that she would take him literally and catch the Pulse bus into town.
Then I noticed, as she turned to speak to
the driver, that her skirt was tucked up at the back. At least it seemed to be, unless she was wearing a strange kind of floaty dress, the skirt of which was high at the back and below the knee at the front. Possible, but unlikely, I felt.
What to do? She was too far away to speak to and might be embarrassed to have attention drawn to a Dress Malfunction. Or, if this happened to be a deliberate fashion statement, how cross would she be to think her hem had been
misunderstood. What would I want someone to do, were I the one with the problem?
I decided that when the bus reached the Library, which was my stop, I would whisper softly in her ear as I passed her, preparing
to make a quick getaway should she not be happy with my intervention, kindly meant though it certainly would be. I hadn't quite made up my mind what I would whisper when we reached the Library - to find that she was alighting too. I hurried off the bus after
her only to notice that someone else had presumably played the Good Samaritan because Miss Joy's dress was floating freely around her knees, both front and back.
I was now close enough to have a better view
of her shoulder bag and discovered that, as well as its joyful slogan, it also bore the distinctive logo of The Body Shop. Joy, presumably, is a tub of cocoa body butter and a tube of lotion for tired eyes. Ah, well....
At the hospital this afternoon, Mr B's mobility scooter started sounding off, bleeping away shrilly as we approached the consultant's office. Mr B, who always thinks the worst, was positive this signalled a battery failure. Inevitably this would have
been All My Fault as I am In Charge Of Charging. So to speak.
I did what I always do in such situations and pretended it wasn't happening. We turned the scooter off and left it outside while we chatted with
the consultant ("also known as God!" Mr B quipped to the technician who had administered the ultra sound tests. She allowed him a small, non-committal smile.) Mr B fretted about how we would get ourselves and the scooter home on an empty battery. I said we
would cross that bridge if and when we came to it. Though on an empty battery we weren't likely to be able to cross the road, let alone a bridge. Had Mr B perhaps accidentally pressed a button or flicked a switch? I wondered to myself. Not out loud, you understand,
I'm not that silly.
But yes, I was right. It turned out that Mr B had somehow turned on his left indicator. This was nothing short of amazing, given that neither of us knew the scooter had indicators. Live
and learn, I always say. It will add immeasurably to the joy of scooting round town, now that we know we can indicate when turning left and right, frightening innocent passers-by with flashing lights and a loud bleeping noise.
On the way out of the hospital I caught sight of a new machine for testing out your heart in thirty seconds. How had mine coped with all the stress? I wondered. Thirty seconds later I had the definitive answer: "Congratulations!" pronounced the machine,
confidently, "Your heart is completely normal."
A normal heart indeed, but also a - determinedly - joyful one. Is there a machine that measures joy? I need to know...