Every school day now, for the past six years, my daughters - first just the elder and then the younger too - have been leaving the house at 7am and walking down the road to catch the school bus. I used to go with them, but now they prefer to go alone.
Every day we would pass (they now pass) the main bus stop and would see a young man standing there waiting for his 7.05am bus.
We would nod and he would nod, and we would pass by. I think, about year three, we started to say, "Good morning."
Last year my elder daughter left school and started sixth form college, which meant she did not take the school bus, but instead caught the 7.05am bus from the main bus stop; the same bus as the young man. She would nod and he would nod. She would say, "Good morning," and he would say, "Good morning." Then they would both get on the bus and take separate seats without another word.
Last week she bounced in from college, eager to tell me that she had, for the first time, spoken to this young man and had a real conversation!
She had realised she had known him by sight for six years but knew nothing about him. She also realised that, unless she spoke first, they could spend another six years just nodding at each other.
"Mummy, he's lovely!" she said. "His name is Samuel and he's married, and he has a little baby and he works in the science park. He's an absolute G!"
(I had to look that up. It's a slang term – short for "Gangsta" but I think my daughter uses it to mean "Cool". Her favourite teacher is "An absolute G," and he is most definitely not a "Gangsta"!)
I think most of us have people in our lives we see on a regular basis, but to whom we never speak. It a peculiar kind of relationship. We would miss them if we no longer saw them and wonder why they disappeared.
A friend of mine had two Great Pyrenean Mountain dogs – those giant fluffy white things that you could mistake for a polar bear. When one of them died, she found that people stopped her and asked about the missing dog. One person driving past drew up to speak. "I always see you with the two dogs. What's happened to the other one?" My friend found that she was a part of the pattern in other people's lives.
I suppose I am a part of the pattern in your life. I drop into your in-box on a Wednesday and – although most of you have never met me and do not know me – you care. I am part of your pattern and you might miss me if I were not here.
And you too are a part of the pattern in the lives of more people than you know.
A Moodscope member.