What Happens When One Encounters Balloons


How a day starts, is really no indication of how it will end.  It isn’t even an indication of how it will be a couple of hours later.  Sometimes, things come at you, right out of the blue.  They might have been talking about the sky when they coined that phrase, but for me, it has come to mean something completely different.

It had been a truly bad day.  It started with reprimands and scoldings dished out by the management.  Suddenly attendance paperwork became more important than teaching.  The once interesting office atmosphere had become toxic.  The day that usually seemed long, stretched to a marathon.  There were many casualties, the most interesting of which was the Christmas party.

With a heavy shrug and look into the darkening sky, I boarded the bus home.  While I couldn’t believe anyone on the bus had had a worse day than I, looking at their faces, I was sure some had had an equally horrible one.  There was little eye contact, and even the obsessive texters seemed to be mashing those buttons or screens harder.

I buried myself in my book, but found it hard to concentrate.  I read the words, but they weren’t speaking to me.  Thoughts of changing jobs, changing cities, changing continents swirled in my head.  Maybe it was time.

It was at that moment that life decided to throw me a curve ball.

I hadn’t noticed her get on the bus, but once she was one, she captured most of my attention.  Before I go to far, I should tell you that this isn’t a love story.  It has a romantic undertone, but that is most likely due to my romantic nature, rather than hers.  This also is less of a story and more of a moment.

It wasn’t her looks, because I couldn’t tell you want she looked like.  I can’t remember what she was wearing.  I couldn’t even swear to a hair colour.  I don’t remember what stop she got on at, and I cannot recall what stop she got off at.

Instead, what I remember most vividly is that she was holding a huge number of blue helium filled balloons.  Although they were covered by a large white bag, seeking to protect them from the rather wintery evening outside no doubt, their brilliant blue colour shone through.

Many questions raced into my head.  Where was she going?  What were the balloons for?  Who or what reason had sent her on a quest for helium filled balloons on such a cold evening? Why that particular number of balloons?  As you might guess, a passenger holding balloons is not an ordinary happening on my commute.

Finding no answer I made up my own story.  She had been given the balloons at an office party, celebrating her 5 year anniversary.  Her co-workers had made speeches praising her efforts and accomplishments.  They had given her gifts, some carefully chosen and intricately wrapped, others just stolen office supplies wrapped crudely in surplus fax paper. Even the cute guy in sales had smiled at her.  She had cried a bit and hugged more than a bit.  She felt part of the family.

My reverie was broken when my stop was announced.  The air was cold as the bus doors opened, but I stepped out anyway.  The balloons and their holder were long gone.  I chuckled in spite of myself, crossed the street against the red light and headed home.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
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14 Responses to What Happens When One Encounters Balloons

  1. I love this story! I make up background for people as well – good to know I am not the only one 🙂

    • Anthony says:

      No, you’re not the only one.
      In this case, it was me reacting to a bad day at work. While I imagine she was loved and valued by her managers….. well, skipping the pity party,… you get the idea.

      • Ugh, I know those days. I always go home, pour a whiskey and put on Eye of the Tiger. I know all the words and singing it makes me feel amazing. Also makes me laugh at myself. Maybe you can laugh at your silly managers instead 😉

      • Anthony says:

        Eye of the Tiger! Awesome. That is a pretty good “feel good song”. What other ones do you have?
        I would list ones like
        Ziggy Stardust
        Sweet Jane
        Wheat Kings
        Hard to Handle
        ….. I need to think more before I complete this list. Maybe I should make this a post….. Hmmm?

      • Yes! Please do. Sorry for the delay. I seem to be saying that a lot at the moment. Not quite here, my brain is trying to get me through the last few days of work before holidays!
        I love Sweet Jane. Have you heard the cowboy junkies cover? It’s a different mood, and it’s kind of wistful and you have to be in the right mood for it. I would add Chin up, cheer up by Ryan Adams, who is my all time favourite musician. I also love Let it Ride by him for a good pick me up. Gonna check your blog and see if you already wrote the post. 🙂

      • Anthony says:

        Sadly I have not written the post…but I still might do it.
        I have heard the Cowboy Junkies version. I find it hauntingly beautiful.
        The funny thing is that I never heard the Velvet Underground version until I went to Japan. My roommate had the CD and lent it too me. At first, I didn’t really like it…but it grew on me quite quickly.

      • Haunting is the exact right word for it. Totally different mood to the velvet underground one. 🙂

      • Anthony says:

        Have you seen the movie Roadkill or Highway 61 (by Don McKellar? The first features some interesting uses of Cowboy Junkies music. They are quirky and not to everyone’s taste…but kind of brilliant too.

      • No, I’ve not seen either of those. I do love quirky movies like Lars and the Real Girl or Hedwig & the Angry Inch or Buffalo 66. I will try to get hold of these to check them out!

      • Anthony says:

        Another band I would recommend that can be hauntingly beautiful is Crash Vegas. They put out 3 CD’s, and according to Wikipedia, had a good following in Europe.
        There music is a little hard to describe and was probably a little ahead of its time–perhaps the reason for their limited success. I saw them live in a small venue and I thought they were great.

      • Ooh, thanks – I love band recommendations! I will check them out on spotify tonight!

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