"...just trying to be helpful!"
Those were the last words I heard a man say to a woman a few weeks back. My guess would be that she didn't hear him owing to the fact she was already headed in the opposite direction, storming off in what can only be described as an epic strop.
I'm not usually one for stating the obvious but here goes: They'd clearly been having a row of some sort. Perhaps tensions, like their morning coffee, had been brewing for a while and simply came to a head that day? I'll likely never know, just as I'm never likely to know the exact nature of their relationship. One thing was clear, though. Whatever the nature of their relationship, there was a relationship.
The exchange so fascinated me that it succeeded in briefly slowing my power-walk down to a leisurely stroll (unheard of during the morning rush hour in London!) before I was once again swept up in the unrelenting tide of fellow commuters.
So why did witnessing this argument almost stop me in my tracks?
I think it was the fact they parted on such bad terms. The last thing I saw the woman do was to give her head an Oscar-winning shake, wave a fiercely dismissive hand in his face and resolutely turn her back on him, all expressed with an underlying angst my teenage self would've been proud of.
"But...what if that's the last time you ever see the other one alive?" My disbelieving adult self wondered as both went their separate ways. Granted, her anger may have been totally justified. He may very well have done or said something worthy of a First-Class-Prat award. Even so...
At the very least the guy could take some comfort from the fact that he was attempting to be conciliatory. The woman? Well, she could take no such comfort from that final interaction. How could she?
At some point she might begin to wonder what his last words to her had been, which would be unfortunate because in all likelihood she'd not have the faintest idea. Of course, I would know. Unlike her, I wasn't hurrying off in anger, too irate to listen. But the irony is that if those had been his last words they would mean very little to me; they would be of no relevance or significance, and would offer no solace. And why would they? He was (and remains) a stranger. No more than a fellow commuter, a nameless man in a dapper suit who, in the nicest possible way, means absolutely nothing to me. Quite possibly, though, he means everything to her.
I sincerely hope that she got a second chance to tell him as much because, if you read or listen to the news for long enough, you soon realise a staggering number of people never get that chance. Don't be one of them.
Whatever the argument, whoever is in the wrong and needs to apologise first, at least part on good terms. Smile, wish them a good day. If your pride can stretch to it offer a conciliatory hug. You never know, it might just be the last memory you create with that person you love. Be sure to make it a comforting one.