Interlude Monologues 4: Home Less
Sir, excuse me, do you have change?
No? Right, I thought so.
Ma’am, do you have any change?
You do? Oh, great, thanks so much, that actually means…No? Right. No, don’t worry, it’s fine. I was just asking in case you had any.
For food? Yes, it is for food and drinks. I mean…I… not the alcoholic ones, although sometimes I could do with some alcohol. But no. I mean yes. I mean no, I don’t drink. I don’t get drunk. Well, sometimes. It’s tough, you know. This life, I mean. It gets tough. But answering your question, yes, it is for food and you know, my dog needs to eat, too.
Drugs? No, I- I don’t do any drugs. I know people who do drugs but I’m not one of those. I try not to be.
No, listen, I’m serious. Ma’am — I’m — I’m serious. I’m just, I’m just really hungry.
Right, I see, you don’t believe me.
Another one’s gone.
Sound of a train approaching.
Hi, excuse me, do you have change?
Change. Do you have change? What a weird expression, do you have any change? People don’t go around with change in their pockets, why should they? I mean, they could. They could be the change. But if they can’t even change themselves, how could they bring it with them, when it’s not money, it’s not objectified, it comes from within? I mean, it could be money. The change could be money. Everything is about money, isn’t it? Money changes everything. I mean, you can give me a penny but a change? Most people can’t even change for themselves, let alone be the change for someone else.
I spend my days asking people for change. When the only change they make in this station is going from the District to the Waterloo line without tripping over their toes, if they can, or get slammed by the doors while getting in the carriage. Dressed up in their fancy suits and fancy shoes and fancy coats. But they all look the same to me. Like puppets.
Cheers, mate. Really appreciate it. Have a good day.
And you know what? Before this, I used to be one of them, too. I used to have a job. I used to have a house. I used to have a job and a house and money in my pockets and I used to dress up in fancy clothes and I used to be on the move. Every day. I used to get up early in the morning, get on the tube and go to work. I enjoyed working. It gives you a purpose, makes you feel useful in a way like you actually matter when, in fact, no one really cares about what you end up doing. For as long as you work for the system and the system likes you. ‘Cause the minute they decide they don’t need you anymore, that’s it. You’re done. Anyone can be replaced. I mean, it’s not even about being good at what you do anymore.
I remember, at school, I used to be at the top of my class. I used to have this math teacher who liked me so much, he’d give me a lollipop at the end of each class. I was in the athletics team, too. I used to run the marathon until I got my back injured at 17 so I had to quit. I wasn’t as good as I used to be. I went off to university. I do actually have a degree. Really. I mean, I know I smell bad most days and my clothes look dirty but I do have a degree, in business. This situation though, bloody business I ended up in, anyways.
Sound of coins being dropped inside the cup in front of her.
After uni, I worked in a call centre for a while, then, I met Matt and Matt was cute as hell. We were friends, we got along until one night he asked me out for dinner and we ended up having sex on his couch at his apartment while his flatmates were out. The next morning, he asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend and I said yes. He got those blue eyes and pale face I adored and innocently fell for. Young love, you know, the kind you should never really follow through but I did and a year later he asked me to marry him and I said yes. I’m not really sure why I said yes but at the time it felt like the right thing to say. It’s not that I didn’t love him. I did but love is such a strong feeling and thinking back we were so young and naive back then that even though we were in love, maybe we shouldn’t have married. And we bought a house and we asked for a mortgage but Matt lost his job at some point and we started arguing a lot. The interest rate went up and we became overstretched. He started drinking. He used to go out to the pub every week. But what started being every week became every day and one day, he just didn’t come home. First, I thought he’d run away but that was until I opened the door one morning and found him unconscious on the sidewalk. I shook him up but he didn’t wake up so I just stood there with him. I remember holding him tight against me until the ambulance came and they took him away.
This was when my mental health got worse and I started having panic attacks every night and couldn’t even hold myself together during the day. One morning, I was on my way to work when I got a phone call saying I’d been replaced by a woman called Cynthia. Cynthia? Who the hell is Cynthia? Truth is, I’d been absent for too long that they wouldn’t need me anymore.
But my husband died and I was all alone. I had a mortgage to pay. Losing this job meant I was done. Where was I supposed to live? I’d do the extra hours. I’d worked extra hours before. I’d do it again. ‘We’re really sorry but there’s nothing we can do,’ they told me. ‘See, this is a firm and when we needed you, you weren’t here. Look, we all have problems and still, we try to do our best.’
We do, don’t we? We all try to do our best. But is it the best, all we can be? I mean, we surely do our best to keep society going. But to each other, I mean. Do we do our best to keep up with each other? ‘Cause whatever we’re all going through at the moment, it doesn’t really matter, ‘cause we all suck it in, put a fucking yellow smile on our pathetic faces and get on with life for the sake of capitalism. ‘Cause at the end of the day, it’s all about money and profit and money for profit, right? And if you can’t keep up with capitalism, I’m afraid it won’t keep up with you. So, they kick you out.
And that’s how I got here and now, I got my own hole and my bed just outside, close to the entrance. During the day, I come down here, especially, during the rush hour to see if I can get some change and at the end of the day, I go back upstairs again and crawl into my hole and sleep. I’ve got my dog to keep me warm. I could never go back into the world and pay rent; the system is all rotten, prices are inflated and the government doesn’t give a fig about people like me. Do you think they care? They don’t. They make their own rules, and capitalism takes care of the rest.
Excuse me, sir, may I…oh no, no, I don’t want any change, not today, please, keep your money. I just thought you might have an extra pair of shoes, seeing you were going to throw those away. See, these been bent over the heels for a couple of days now.
Oh, finally, my feet are off the ground.
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