Maybe it’s my fault. To be honest, I’m not sure. You see, as someone who writes in an attempt to make their living I can get a little, let’s say, ‘stir-crazy’. Staring at my trusty laptop’s screen all day will do that – I’m sure those of you who work on computers can feel my pain. So, most days, I find it necessary for a change of scenery: a trip to a cafe, a long walk or even a bus ride to nowhere in particular. I’m not fussy. I just like a bit of fresh air and the chance to think.

The thing is, I’ve found these breaks have become the source of my best material. How so? Maybe it’s my fault, maybe I’m just nosey? I don’t think that I am particularly – although my friends might disagree. Maybe I have super-strength hearing? My girlfriend would argue that I don’t, especially if she’s calling me to do the dishes. Perhaps it’s just that other people are really quite loud? I’m not sure. Whatever the truth I tend to overhear things out and about, things that brighten my day.

Recently, on a bus, I couldn’t help but overhear the very loud conversation a couple of elderly ladies were having. Let’s call them ‘Joan’ and ‘Anne’:

Joan: He’s a good man.
Anne: Who?
Joan: Bill!
Anne: Oh yes, Bill. You could say he’s really found his vacation in life.
Joan: Sorry?
Anne: You know, with his job. I think he’s found his ‘vacation’ in life.
Joan paused, screwing up her face.
Joan: I don’t think that’s what you mean.
Anne: I know my own mind thank you very much!
For a moment, it seemed Anne was considering hitting Joan with her handbag.
Joan: You said ‘vacation’ not ‘vocation’. You mean he’s found his ‘vocation’ in life.
Anne: Do I?
Joan: ‘Vacation’ is what Americans call their holidays.
A big grin spread across Anne’s face.
Anne: You’re right! They’ve got a lot of funny words for things, those Americans.
Joan: Like ‘sidewalk’ instead of, you know, ‘pavement’…
Anne: Oh yeah! And ‘trunk’ instead of ‘boot’, on a car…
Joan: Very strange.
Anne: I’ve just remembered. You’ll never guess what they call ‘taps’ in American. You know, taps on a basin.
Joan shrugged.
Anne: ‘Forceps’.
Chris McGuire

Chris McGuire is a Devon-based writer.
He can’t wait to take his next bus journey with Joan & Anne.
Find him on twitter: @McGuireski

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