“Well if you could just stop asking stupid questions!” said the loud man on the DART, making me jump. He wasn’t talking to me, he was talking to a woman sitting opposite him. My eyebrows went up. Who talks to anyone like that?
“Here’s another one,” he said then, “Why did the dog cross the road?”
Ah. From Monkstown to Lansdowne Road, Oliver (he seemed like an Oliver, but that’s not his name) told joke after joke to Nuala (also not her name) who I suspect was an American relative home to visit. He stopped from time to time to point out landmarks to her.
“This is Google land” he said, as we passed through Google land.
“Do you work here?”
“God no, no way!” he said in a way that suggested he might like to. Oliver definitely works in IT though, I’d put my house on it.
“What does that mean?” Nuala asked, as we passed a sign saying “Duga na Canálach Móire” at Grand Canal Dock.
“It says ‘Duga na Canálach Móire’,” said Oliver.
“Yes, but what does it mean?” asked Nuala.
“Oh it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a name,” shrugged Oliver. And then they got off the train, much as I silently begged them to stay and keep chatting.
I stayed on till Connolly, then made my way down to the IFSC, a place I haven’t been since I packed my 17 year financial services career into a box and walked away in April 2015.
It was just as it has always been, only different too. O’Briens is gone, but Munchies, where I got my daily chicken salsa wrap, is still there. CHQ is looking good, buzzing with coffee meetings already at 11:30am. I joined them, taking a table beside two women. They were beautiful and confident and full of chat and I tried not to listen but not very hard. I think they were work colleagues who no longer work in the same office, and they were discussing someone they both know.
“How’s she doing anyway?” asked Sonya (She reminded me of someone I once knew called Sonya.)
“Busy,” said Aisling.
Sonya raised one perfectly groomed eyebrow. “Like, how busy?”
“Oh you know,” said Aisling, “She scratched herself twice…”
I smiled into my coffee, and sank into the familiar, nostalgic world of work gossip, even if it isn’t mine anymore.
I was on my way to an Author Event in one of the offices in the IFSC. Now before I start to sound notiony, I should make it clear that the event was organised by the company for which my husband works, though not by him. The kids put it nicely in context for me with their questions:
“Mum, did Dad organise this event?”
“No, not at all, it was organised by a lovely colleague of his who was at my launch and is involved in the women’s networking initiative in their office. So nothing at all to do with your dad.”
“Yeah but if you weren’t married to dad, would they have heard of you?”
“Erm, no.” Fair enough.
And as I said to the lovely group of people who came to the event, while I loved the opportunity to talk about the transition from financial services to writing, to meet new people and old colleagues, the best bit was quite possibly getting a day out. In the IFSC. Or anywhere to be honest.
Because the irony of self-employment is that I’m more constrained than ever, and in order to do today’s event, my husband had to stay at home to pick up the kids. Which is why I told him it was an all-day event, and I’m typing this from Bewley’s on Grafton Street. Listening to Havi and Dave beside me. Havi has bought a new jacket and is trying it on for Dave. Havi’s chair fell over when he stood up to show Dave the jacket. Dave looks like he wants to be anywhere but here, but Havi hasn’t noticed. Dave reckons some designer was paid thousands to come up with the new interior here in Bewley’s. Havi reckons he could have done better for hundreds. I could stay all day. I just might.