I am on the train from Cork to Limerick
Things are going well, I am working away quietly at an empty table of four, when we pull into Mallow and the train fills up.
A Dublin woman sits across from me and I instantly get the smell of cider from her breath. It has just turned 1pm. It is lunchtime.
She calls her partner over to sit alongside her and I do what anyone would do, I turn the music off in my headphones and listen.
She is a well dressed woman, middle aged, wearing lots of labels.
Her top is a strongly patterned purple and pink zip up fleece over a simple but expensive white t-shirt.
She has a gold pendent chain, two diamond studs in either ear and Red or Dead designer glasses helping her see.
She is appalled with everything on the train.
She doesn’t like the two old people sitting opposite gently discussing their lives.
She doesn’t like the fact that some of the seats are reserved and she doesn’t seem to like the man with her.
They bicker energetically for a while before her attention fixates on four free seats behind me.
She tuts and sighs, she can’t understand why they are going to waste.
An old lady stands up to rearrange her things.
“How long does it take for someone to settle into her seat?” She says sarcastically in her Dublin drawl.
Then she turns her attention to me.
I am sitting across from her, typing on my computer, pretending to listen to music in my white headphones.
There is a battered white Iphone on the left of my laptop and a notepad and pen on the right.
My backpack is on the seat beside me, an old worn black adidas bag I have had since school.
I am wearing a pink hoody I got for a fiver in a sale.
My hair is big, curly and wild.
I have no makeup on.
I wonder what she thinks of me.
I wonder will she talk to me.
I continue to type.
Thankfully, the seat situation has her fully perplexed.
She turns her attention back to the free seats, pointing them all out to the man beside her.
He doesn’t seem particularly bothered with free seats, but he goes along with the charade for an easy life.
All of a sudden she stops and looks out the window, the man looks relieved.
I think she is tired.
I wonder why she was drinking before lunch, I wonder why she is so mean to the man beside her and I wonder why she hates free seats so much.
An announcement comes over the intercom, my stop is next.
I get on my connecting train, sit down in a vacant four seater and take out my laptop.
A young family sit in the four seater across from me.
The man is in his late twenties wearing a navy, dirty wife beater shirt and the woman is dressed in a Penneys finest tracksuit
They have a child in a pram and a baby in a seat with them.
The child looks too old to be in a pram.
I am not good with age, but I think the little boy is about three.
He has a coca cola flag that he is waving enthusiastically from his seat
“Up the banner” he chants before poking me with the flag.
I smile briefly at him and return to my work
“Up the Dubs,” the man corrects his son.
“Pass me the bag, I wanna show ya somtim,” the young woman says to the man.
The child is beating the floor with his flag.
He repeatedly hits the floor and then hits the seat beside me.
He is strapped into the chair but he is energetically trying to escape.
His parents are oblivious.
“Do you like dis?”
She asks the man in the navy wife beater, holding up a silk shirt from Penneys with glittery bits and some leopard print down the side.
“Is it a top?” He asks.
“No –It’s a dress”
“Is it not a bit short?,” He replies.
“No, no, it just looks that way, it will be fine when it is on.”
The child is still furiously beating the floor with his flag.
They discuss their plans for Sunday drinking; the man explains they cannot go drinking before 3pm in the day, because they can’t afford it.
After a few minutes peace ascends over the group.
The boy in the pram starts drinking a bottle of milk of his own accord.
The man feeds a bottle to the baby in the seat.
The woman plays with her phone.
I wonder if they are happy.
There is an old saying; Don’t judge a book by it’s cover -but there are too many books in the world to give a more in depth assessment and life is too short to waste time reading a bad story.
I wonder what impression I give people when they meet me on the train, in town or in a pub.
I try to think what impression I want to give.
The young family beside me are playing country songs on their phone and clapping along to the music.
They look happy.
If your book matches your cover, no one is disappointed.