It’s 11.53 on a scorching Friday morning and for the second time in as many days; the air conditioning fails to satisfy its end of the bargain. Kevin, a smartly dressed man in his late twenties, with an impeccable hairstyle and a looming deadline, wipes the sweat from his brow as he struggles to concentrate on the task at hand.
The noise inside the office is deafening. Josie and Anna are over at the drinks machine, giggling away as they compare stories from Saturday night. Steve, fresh from yet another disciplinary meeting, curses his way from workstation to workstation as he vents his frustration towards anyone who will listen, and to top it off, the clatter of a thousand key strokes are added to this cacophony of noise in their own inimitable way.
With his head in his hands and self-doubt in his heart; the unmistakable sound of an incoming message arouses Kevin from his woe. It’s his wife, Claire. In just a few little words, she reminds him he has something to look forward to – a life outside these four walls – a life without deadlines, stress and incessant distractions.
“How’s it going Mr Happy?”
Kevin looks up, flashes Steve a smile, and replies;
“You know what, I feel pretty damn good, actually.”
Claire puts the phone back in her handbag and takes another sip of her coffee. The café is surprisingly busy for such a glorious day and she’s lucky to have found a lovely spot on the balcony, where she can relax and watch everyone stroll along the promenade. An elderly couple hand in hand, two young children, weaving in and out of the crowd as they chase each other in circles, and several young men, dripping wet from the water, carrying their surfboards as they head towards the beachside showers.
“You never listen to me!”
Her attention is diverted by the couple to her left. A young woman, seemingly upset by her boyfriend, stands up and makes her way down the steps and onto the promenade below. This isn’t the first time Grace has stormed off like this. She’s been dating Jack for 7 months and due to the large age gap, they sometimes struggle to understand each other’s point of view.
He chases after her and manages to catch up before Grace disappears into the crowd. Spinning her around and gently holding her hand, Jack spots a lone tear trickle down her face. As he reaches up to caress her cheek, Grace immediately wipes it away.
“I’m sorry” she says, “I hate getting emotional in public”.
Jack apologises too, pulls her in and tenderly plants a little kiss on her forehead; and with that, all her anger and frustration disappears.
As Jack and Grace turn around and begin walking back to their table, they are careful not to get splashed by the torrent of water just a few feet away.
“Sorry, mate!” is the vague cry from the direction of the showers, as water flickers in their general direction. “Don’t worry about it” replies Jack, shielding his girlfriend from the spray.
Jason waves his hand apologetically and watches the mismatched couple as they take their seats back up on the balcony. He’s been watching for the last minute or two. His attention caught by the apparent drama unfolding before his saddened eyes. Although he is a good looking guy in his late twenties, Jason has never had a serious relationship.
And whilst waiting for his turn to wash the salty water from his mid length, dirty blonde hair, he’s been transfixed by the interaction between the older gentleman and this petite woman half his age. Scanning for clues as to how this man with receding hair and an expanding waistline ever managed to find himself such an attractive girlfriend. Confused, frustrated and lonely, Jason lets out a sigh as he wanders towards the shower in the vain hope of washing away his sorrow.
“Mate, I can’t wait for your birthday party tonight, you’ll love what we’ve planned for you…”
Jason turns around and looks directly at Tom.
“…there’s gonna be… nah, we can’t say. It took us ages to sort it out.”
Jason laughs and replies, “You guys better not stitch me up…” and with that one little sentence, something comforting flashes across his mind.
He couldn’t wish for a greater set of friends.
Somewhere out on the sand, a man in his early thirties is stirred from his nap by the feint sound of laughter. With hazy vision, he turns to his side and scans into the distance for the source of the noise. Spotting a group of surfers, seemingly without a care in world; he looks on, deep with envy, wishing he led a more exciting life.
To the outside world it seems as though he’s living the dream. But inside there is an empty feeling. Something isn’t quite right, something gnawing away in the background, something he can’t quite place but it’s enough to turn this crystal blue sky into a tedious shade of grey.
It’s almost noon and the intense heat is forcing him to seek shelter. As he makes his way back onto the promenade, he turns around and stares at the space he left behind – an empty patch of sand on an otherwise packed beach.
While admiring the surfboards carefully placed alongside the railing, and being careful not to step in the ever growing puddle meandering its way across the promenade, a little voice cuts through the atmosphere and grabs his attention.
I instinctively turn around, and see Claire waving manically.
“Hey!” I reply. “How’s it going?”
“Great, thanks. Fancy a catch up?” She invites me to sit down and I gladly take her up on her offer.
30 minutes spent sitting under an umbrella, chatting to a friend I haven’t seen in 6 months and without a bead of sweat or a grey cloud in sight. I look out at the sparkling water, glistening beautifully under the brilliant sunshine. I look over at the young woman, smiling and enjoying herself at the table to our left, and I catch myself giggling as I listen to Claire telling me about this text she sent to Kevin a little earlier.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have told you about that…” she says, sheepishly.
But it’s all good.
It’s amazing, actually.
It’s amazing how a little text message can totally change someone’s mood. It’s amazing how a little kiss can tell someone all they need to know. It’s amazing how a little banter between friends can eliminate the sadness and it’s even more amazing when you realise we all have the power to make the world a better place.
When someone needs a pick-me-up, just remember…
It’s the little things that make the difference.