Conversations with strangers

“Hi, my names Charity. What’s your name?” Charity said looking Ben dead in the eye. They were in the awkward few moments in which people are told to meet someone they haven’t met before. Now, most people who go alone, pull their phones out for the duration of the 3 minute meet and greet. Not Charity – at least not any more.

“Ben,” he said, extending his diplomatic hand.
“So, Ben, tell me, what’s your story?”

“I’m a consultant, I live in West London; Fulham, to be precise. And I’ve been coming here for the last two years. What about you?”

“Me?” She said with a giggle and an element of shock, although it was a constructed shock. She expected him to respond in a robotic manner. They always did. “Well how can we talk about me when you haven’t finished?”

His eyebrows knitted together. “Haven’t I?”

“Well I should hope not. Otherwise we could all meet each other and share our three item lists in the little time we have.” She said opening her arms wide and looking out over the multitudes. “I’m sure there’s more to the story than Fulham, consultant and two years at HTB.” Her positivity radiated through her smile; any offense he might have had disappeared. She had actually listened.

“Okay, I am in a bit of a transition at the moment. I specialised in coporate law, but after seeing how companies treat the little guy, I feel as though it were my duty to humanity to support the little guy. I’m re-training to become an employment lawyer.” He said matter of factly, he wanted to gloat about this great intellectual good he’s to be doing for the world.

“So what sort of people are you going to work for? The really rich little guy or the really poor little guy?” Charity asked. She was genuinely interested. But today she was even more enthusiastic in her line of questioning.

Ben looked around for a moment, he hadn’t thought much on that topic. His gloat sank to the bottom of his stomach as he conjured up something that didn’t make him sound like an ass hole.
“Ideally, I would work most with those who could afford my services in the sense that we’d be on the same page.” Whatever that meant. “But I am open to doing pro-bono cases at regular intervals in order for the greater good to be achieved.” Whatever that meant. He felt as though he had redeemed himself. He hadn’t. Not yet at least. He did not want to work for free, nobody did. But he did say that he wanted to help the little guy. Help is free.

“Well that sounds really well structured.” Charity lied. “So you’d help the little guy at regular intervals. How else do you help people?”

“Erm…” what! He wanted to say, but he was a gentleman and he wouldn’t get exclamatory now. “In a lot of ways,”
he continued, adjusting his collar. “So what is your story?” He thought to ask to regain some control.

Of course, that would be the moment that church would commence and she’d tell him she’d hope to meet him again, when she’d share her story with him. She wandered off in the direction of the front and vanished.

On occasion Ben looked around to catch a glimpse of Charity, he didn’t see her.

Eventually after months of looking he had decided that Charity was a gypsy angel. She went around asking provoking, life changing questions and then she disappeared. Her story was just that; that is what she did. Her three item list? She was a world changer, she was from nowhere in particular and perhaps she’d never been a regular at HTB or any other church. She changed the world one question at a time and Ben was lucky to have met her.

Ben went on to becoming an employment lawyer and head of the pro-bono commissioning department. He did work closely with the middle guy, but his good to the world was that he insured that everyone in the company would do as many little-guy cases they could in a year. To him it was no longer about commission.