Image by Christine Renney
Sy had changed things over the years. He had done this out of necessity, in order to continue. Sy was a tramp and constantly on the road. People didn’t expect him to stop and they tended to steer clear of tramps, giving them a wide berth, especially one who was pushing something awkward and unwieldy in front of himself.
Sy had adapted with the times, making the best of his surroundings and using whatever was available; discarded bicycles for instance. A tramp pushing along a bicycle didn’t draw a lot of attention. They were relatively easy to control, even after the tyres had disintegrated and the wheels started to buckle.
Whilst wheeling a bicycle, and Sy had wheeled an uncountable number of them over the years, he constantly found himself having to resist the urge to hop up onto the saddle and coast along for a spell. The temptation was excruciatingly painful and almost impossible to bear. And so, yes, bicycles worked but when his latest model eventually seized up and refused to move Sy was forced to carry it. But it was never too long before he was able to find something else, another bicycle perhaps or shopping cart.
Shopping carts were plentiful. At least, they could be found almost anywhere; alongside a busy road or at the bottom of a ditch out in the middle of nowhere. Or simply sitting and waiting on the pavement of a busy neighbourhood. But Sy could only search for so long. He needed to limit the time spent carrying rather than pushing. Often he hadn’t any choice other than to help himself to a cart from a supermarket car park. No-one seemed to mind or even to notice when he dumped an old and broken cart and helped himself to a shiny new one. But of course he was stealing and this troubled Sy as he pushed the cart, even one he had dragged from a deep and muddy ditch. He couldn’t help feeling that it was stolen and that he was breaking the law.
Shopping carts wheeled along okay, for a spell at least, especially if Sy was able to keep to the flat, on tarmac or concrete or the hardened earth during the summer. But when the weather was rough, when it was wet and windy, they were much more difficult to control. And when the wheels finally seized or fell off altogether, which is what did often happen, carrying them was hard. The carts were awkward and unwieldy and quite frankly dangerous. A tramp with an out of control shopping cart tended to draw a lot of attention.
Sy worried that he would be apprehended, that a Police car would pull alongside him and the officers would demand he stop. And when he didn’t that they would force him into the back of the car and whisk him away to the local Police Station where he would be held in a cell.
But this hadn’t happened yet and somehow Sy had always managed to find a way. Over the years he had pushed all manner of things – prams and trolleys, carts and pushchairs and bicycles, old tyres and children’s toys, scooters even skateboards and suitcases. Anything with wheels. And it hadn’t been easy but Sy was all too aware that it wasn’t supposed to be.