“Houston we have a problem.” Jim Lovell – Apollo 13
At the cashpoint in a local 711, downtown Houston. I feel the eyes of a curious local, hispanic descent, schlubby and with dried mud on his Adidas sneakers, investigate me up and down. I didn’t catch his name but I’ll call him Hernandez. His other half is at the other counter, she’s portly and her skin’s bad. I didn’t catch her name but I’ll call her Bella.
Hernandez finally folds and pipes up. “If you don’t me askin’, where you from?”
“Cambridge,” I say plaintively. This answer didn’t satisfy Hernandez. “Cambridge, England.” I add.
“You can tell.” He grunts.
I’ve judged Hernandez on his muddy trainers, on his resigned countenance, on his portly other half. Hernandez is miserable, and angry. But as an ambassador of the UK, I feel obliged to reciprocate with small talk. “You live around here?” I ask.
“Just up the road.”
“What’s it like living around here?”
Bella gets served, she hands the bag to Hernandez and they leave together without saying goodbye. I bought four oversized tees and some crispy M&M’s and leave.