If you know anything about me – and I have no idea if you do – you know I love a snack. I love talking about a snack. I love eating a snack. What, where, when, how often, home-made, shop-bought… all snack facts are good snack facts, Jones-wise.
That's why I loved this man, enjoying a train snack on the 5.58pm last week, specifically some nuts (I'd say honey roasted, if you pushed me) in a plastic cup.
But where do you get an open cup of nuts? When you're shopping to satisfy your nut needs, no one asks you if you'd like them open or wrapped. There are plastic bags for this kind of thing anyway. Tubs with lids. Not cups from a water cooler, which this clearly was. We were pulling out of London Bridge station, where he could have pick-and-mixed those nuts from The Vaults, the sort-of-food-market they have there (if, under the canopy of food, you include flowers, greetings cards and Thomas Pink shirts). But I know he didn't.
I felt sure this was a case of buffet cut-and-run.
I know the signs because I am a buffet poacher myself. I don't believe a hotel continental breakfast is all it claims to be unless you can squirrel away enough items in your pocket to constitute a hearty lunch later in the day. It's not just buffets, though. I'm an any-time opportunist. I say this as someone who sat down to watch the Old Vic pantomime a couple of years ago with the bulkier elements of a Pizza Express Nostrana salad wrapped in a napkin on my lap, having run out of time to eat it in the restaurant beforehand.
I imagined The Nut Guy standing around in his office half an hour earlier, smiling wearily through one of those promotion/birthday/big-result-for-the-firm celebrations, all salty snacks and sparkling wine, where colleagues pride themselves on steering the conversation away from shop talk, when it would be so much more comfortable for everyone if they left it there. The saga of the sales manager's loft conversion was not the engaging narrative he imagined.
At precisely the moment when the second hand nudged 5.30 (he'd been watching the clocks carefully – it was also 12.30 in New York and 08.30 in Tokyo), Nut Guy switched off his small-talk smile, gave out a one-word goodbye and made a break for the lifts. Then he paused, turned on his heel, walked back towards the party, wrenched a fresh plastic cup free of its family and filled it to the brim with snacks, before leaving for good. Maybe he stuffed a sausage roll into one blazer pocket, a miniature scotch egg in the other.
At 5.30, he became the rightful owner of a whole weekend's leisure time and a seat on the 5.58 train. But he was also entitled to his share of that buffet. And who says you can't have it all? Not Nut Guy.
He got off the train before me. Here are his leftovers...
I can't say I wasn't tempted.
38. QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK, LONDON
2 weeks ago