At first it seemed normal. Nothing untoward.
He was one of many making their way along the busy London station platform.
He walked a few paces ahead, a little to the side. The left.
Like many of us today, he walked one hand held aloft. Not at eye level, but held in front of his lower face. Face and hand locked at a fixed distance apart, hand leading face, almost as if invisibly tied together.
It seemed like he was following the scent of a delicate flower, cupped within his hand.
Instead, his hand held his mobile phone.
His eyes flicked down, then up, down, then up. The time spent down seemed to dominate. Maybe two thirds down, one third up?
My pace was slightly quicker and I began to draw almost level.
I glanced across. Then lingered.
His screen contained the calculator. A familiar sight. There were no numbers entered. Just a blank calculator screen.
We walked on. I adjusted my pace to match his. Half a yard behind, just to the right.
We walked in synch. No buttons were pressed. No numbers entered. No calculations computed. His eyes flicked down, then up, down, then up.
He was one of the gang. He was a phone walker.
Like me, maybe others who walked past this phone walker, or those who approached from the front, we might assume he was checking the latest news, scanning his social media timeline, reading a text or an email.
He was staring at a blank calculator app. Content in the knowledge that he belonged. Belonged to the morning throng of commuters who held their phones aloft. Scenting their technology like pungent hyacinths. He was no longer alone. He was accepted. He was a phone walker.