Smelly old bag

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I was travelling home from work drinks in a London cab about nine years ago when an old lady opened the front passenger door and hopped in. I didn’t mind, I was going her way and when she arrived at her house and rustled around in her bag for some change, the driver and I both protested: “No, no, no, please, we’ve got this” and watched her teeter up to her front door and slowly disappear.

As he pulled away, the cabbie glanced back at me.

“Are you single?”

I hesitated, but answered yes, coaxed by his pleasant manner and the fact he was wearing a wedding ring.

“It’s hard finding someone isn’t it?” he asked, smiling at me in the rear view mirror. “You have to use your brain. When I hit 30 I took a year off work to find a wife to make sure I did the job properly.”

His romantic sabbatical had succeeded and he was now living happily with his wife and two children.

There was a couple of minutes of shared comfortable silence – my relief that I hadn’t been raped, his marital content – before he suddenly sprang to life again. “Did you smell her bag?” he asked me, pointing his finger at the seat where the old lady had sat five minutes before. I hadn’t got a waft but I sensed from his wrinkled nose that it hadn’t smelt of lavender and cold cream.

“When she opened it up, it just smelt awful.”

He paused, then said: “Isn’t it sad that she hasn’t got anyone to tell her that her bag smells?”

I nodded, gravely.

“And that’s the thing: you don’t want to leave it too late, because you need someone to tell you that your bag smells bad, don’t you?”

I couldn’t argue with that. I joined the very next day.


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