Something strange happened to me recently. I had to think carefully about whether or not to relate this experience on my blog, as it was of such a personal nature and I was rather shaken afterwards – although now, a day and a half later, I am having trouble recalling that sense of unease. You’re reading these words now, so you know what I decided; writing is how I make sense of the world, or more accurately, how I embrace the no-sense of the world.
On the weekend I attended an interview session in the city with a market research company. I’ve attended these panels before; they pay well for one’s time, and it’s a mildly interesting diversion from my usual weekend routine. But this is not the strange thing that happened, nor is is relevant to the story. It could have taken place in a doctor’s office, a supermarket queue – anywhere where strangers interact.
My husband drove me in, and that’s usually part of the fun; without the kids in tow, and with a 45 minute drive ahead of us, it gave us an opportunity to just talk, about anything and everything. For no particular reason, my father came up in conversation.
On arrival at the address provided, we joked about a lot of things – the dodgy-looking location (backing onto train tracks and plastered with graffiti, with a makeshift sign taped to a warehouse door to indicate I was in the right place), the completely off-his-face middle-aged man on the adjacent train platform who was singing and dancing to Eminem like his life depended on it, my husband parking under a tree and narrowly dodging a bird-shit bullet. I went into the interview in a relaxed and buoyant mood.
I can remember few concrete details about the woman who interviewed me. She was about my age at a guess, professionally friendly, casually dressed in black jeans and impressively well-worn Doc Martens. There were a few technical hitches with the computer programme she was using to record my responses, and at one point she gently mocked my choice of vocabulary (“you’re challenging my spelling ability, you know – ‘it gives an impression of longevity’?!?”), but for the most part, our conversation was limited to the script she had been provided and from which she read.
We got to the end of the interview, and I was about to stand to leave, when she said, “This might sound like an unusual question, but…have you had someone close to you pass away recently?”
“How recent?” I had no idea where this had come from, nor where it was going, but if possible, I was going to have at least one hand on the steering wheel.
She shrugged and pulled a face. “Last year?”
“Yes,” I said. “My father.”
“He’s here with you,” she said. “I saw him in the mirror.” She nodded at the wall behind me. I turned and saw nothing but the room and its two living occupants reflected back.
“He’s on your left side,” she said. “I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, but when I see it, I call it.”
Not knowing what else to say, I thanked her, and held it together just long enough to collect my $50 and get out the door before bursting into tears.
So to you, dear reader, I ask – what the hell happened there? I’m happy to hear from believers and skeptics alike.