A few days ago a man approached me late at night, neatly dressed in a jacket and jeans. I nodded to him, said hi, thinking that he might need directions somewhere.
"Hey mate," he said, open and friendly. "How's it going?"
I asked what I could do for him, smiling back.
"Couldn't spare a cigarette, could you?" He looked up at me with the trusting eyes of a child.
I told him I didn't smoke, sorry.
"Oh come on, mate. Don't be like that." Still friendly. When I shook my head and walked away, he called out. "Hey! Don't fucking walk away from me, you smug fuck!" I kept walking, hoping he wouldn't come after me, closing my hand around the key in my pocket. He didn't.
His friendliness was the easy friendliness of an addict, and it turned to rage very quickly. What must it be like, being on a chain like that, forced to make nice to passers-by in the hope that they might deign to give you some relief? I'd be angry too. And finally - perhaps most importantly - I'm a tall, fairly fit guy. A woman in the same situation would have felt more threatened than me, and with more reason. How many people have I scared, just by walking nearby on a deserted street? I don't know. I can afford not to notice.