The epiphany I had most recently is that I can’t relax

Every so often I’ll have a small epiphany, writes Colm O’Regan

The epiphany I had most recently is that I can’t relax

I don’t mean I’ll put the three wise men in the crib. It’s just that something’ll strike me and make me think: “oh yeah maybe I am a bit of a…” The epiphany I had most recently is that I can’t relax.

The epiphany I had most recently is that I can’t relax.

It was a hot Italian morning. (I mean the country and the weather, in case anyone is thinking this is the start of the Examiner’s dabble in erotic fiction.)

I was seated in the office as a man ‘worked a computer’ as part of the process of hiring their only car available for hire. A 2010 Fiat Panda. A great thing about hiring cars abroad is that you can drive models that you wouldn’t necessarily drive otherwise. Either because it’s a Fiat Panda or it’s not exported. I like to think of the other imaginary Fiats the Italians are keeping for themselves:

The Fiat Spinkle, a three-wheeler with seats on the roof and you hold the engine in your lap or the giant Fiat Xorbiton which has three hitches and can tow a milking-parlour full of cows to the mart but also is surprisingly nippy around town.

The man was not a computer man. He was a garageman, a man with useful skills. You don’t type your way out of an apocalypse. No one was using a mouse in Mad Max. But for now I needed him to type. It was clear he didn’t spend much time typing. The keyboard, although connected to the computer, was sort of stored away, as if only brought out for special occasions.

I was going mad. It wasn’t because I was in a hurry. It was just that here was a task that I thought could be done faster. I wanted to intervene. To take out my Italian phrase book and find the translation for “ARRA FOR FECK’ SAKE GIVE ME THE KEYBOARD AND I’LL TYPE THE THING CMONWOULDJA”

I just about restrained myself. Firstly it wasn’t my place and also maybe I’d make a mess of it.

Ever do that before? Offer to show someone - usually older - a faster way to do something on a computer and before you know it you’ve deleted everything and they’re saying: “You see I’ve my own way of doing things”

But also because I realised - why can’t I just relax here and wait? And deal with good old-fashioned boredom.

I used to be able to be bored in situations like this. When I was a small boy and going off with my father on one of those spins in the summer holidays, I dealt with it. The only reason I went was for Taytos but there were less places to buy Taytos then. So the spin usually involved me kicking a stone or dragging my heel in the dusty concrete of a garage/gravel-pit/creamery/someone else’s farmyard while my father and the other man shifted the conversation to a new point of interest like who was building that house over there or why was the Squad Car around last night.

Even then I could retreat into my head and wait for the possibility of Tayto and a ‘tin’ of Fanta. Now as an adult, I fidgeted and sighed while a man took a little extra time to process an application in his second language, flawlessly.

So eventually I sat and waited and looked at the wall trying to decipher the Italian for “These are the only tyres you’ll need” or “INSURANCE YOU CAN TRUST” on the posters.

My breathing slowed. I think I was relaxed. I was almost disappointed when he finished changing the cartridge on the printer and said I was ready for road.

It’s not exactly mindfulness, more cop-on.

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