Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The next person

Something I wrote a few years ago, inspired by life in Christian community, but relevant to anyone living with other people.

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine.

He’s a great person – well, that’s if you can call him a person at all; I’ve never actually met him myself but I know of him.

He’s the one who always comes along after me wherever I’ve been, whatever I’ve done - or so I’ve heard, anyway.

Sometimes I’ve thought I’ve caught a glimpse of him from behind but he’s never actually there when I go back and look. But, somehow, he’s always the next to come along, whatever I’ve been doing.

If I make a drink, he comes along after me and makes a drink.

If I park a car, he comes along after me to park another car – sometimes he even drives off in the car I’ve only just finished with.

If I have a bath, he always needs the bath straight after me.

As I said, I don’t know his name so I’ve had to make up my own name for him – I call him the ‘next’ person, although he’d never answer to this name if I called him.

Anyway, this ‘next’ person has taught me a lot, you know. When I first found out that he was going to come along next whatever I did, it started to change how I go about things.

I’ve found myself thinking of the ‘next’ person in the things I do; after all, I wouldn’t want him to think I was selfish. Although he never thanks me for thinking of him (because he doesn’t always know I was there just before him) he would certainly notice if I kept on leaving things in a mess for him, whether or not he knew it was me.

The other day, I made myself a cup of tea using the last bit of water in the kettle. I was just about to walk away when something inside said, “What about the ‘next’ person?” So I thought I’d do him a favour and put some water in the kettle to save him having to do it. I didn’t boil it as I wasn’t sure how long he'd be but I knew it was only a matter of time before he’d come along after me. It may sound daft, me living my life around someone I’ve not seen but I know he’s there; he’s as real to me as any of you are.

Here’s a few of the other things I’ve started doing since I realised about the ‘next’ person:
  • putting the car keys away as soon as possible so I don’t forget – he always uses them after me
  • doing at least my own washing up so I don’t make it worse for him – when there’s time, I try to do others’ washing up too to save him having to do it or, at very least, I try not to leave my knive on the bread board so he doesn’t have to clear it up
  • parking the car so as to leave room for him to drive through after me
  • drying my feet before I get out of the bath or shower so he doesn’t have to walk on the wet bath mat with his socks on – I bet he hates that!
  • washing the hairs away after getting out of the bath or shower – otherwise he has to do it before he gets in the bath
  • putting a new loo roll actually on the loo roll holder when the old one runs out – he’ll only have to do it if I don’t!
  • getting a few more backup loo rolls when I put the last one on the holder so he can put a new one on when he finishes one
  • I’ve even started using the hand-towel, as opposed to a tea towel, to dry my hands so that germs from my hands don’t get on his cutlery! Call me a loony if you want.
  • Anyway, I’m sure there’s loads of stuff I do for him besides, and probably a lot more I could do if I noticed. He’s a good bloke, you know. I think a lot of him. In fact, I reckon I could go so far as to say I love him.

    What about you? What can you do for the ‘next’ person? You never know when he might come along…

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