There's a basketball ring on a half-court that I walk by on the way to and from the train stop each day. I won't describe it in too much detail, because I'm sure there'll be a photo of it someday soon. In the morning it usually stands alone, the rising sun banking off the backboard and shining the dewy grass of the surrounding parklands like thousands of tiny stars. It teases me, like it's saying "Off to work Brad? Why didn't bring a ball? I'm here waiting for you all alone. You could have spent the day shooting hoops in your suit pants."
On my way home in the evenings, when the sun is in transition to the west, the court is usually occupied by Chinese dudes with long shadows. Sometimes they're shooting around, but most of the time seem to be lounging about on or next to their basketballs, chatting idly and catching their breath. It feels like I'm walking in at the arse end of a party when the music is turned down and the only people left are helping clean up.
Once every couple of months, between walks, someone will come along and snap the ring off and steal it. This bums me out because I love basketball and I hate jerks and stealing a public basketball ring is like the polar opposite of playing basketball with people who aren't jerks. It was a pretty goddamn traumatic start to Monday morning for me, seeing it there like that. Ring missing, net nowhere, an opaque cloud drifting across the sun.
Nine hours later and by habit I was looking at the basketball court as I walked through the park towards home. I saw two Chinese dudes with a basketball before the ring came into view. I was filled with optimism. Then I saw that they were shooting around like there was a ring, but there was no ring. This was a conflicting tableau. I wasn't sure whether to feel optimistic about people's ability to persevere with their plans in the face of adversity, or to feel enraged that someone's selfish act had ruined the afternoon of others. Then the two dudes stopped shooting, perhaps because a tall, white dude was staring at them intently as he walked by. They looked at me with sad, desperate expressions. I realised they must think I had some authority over the park. They wanted me to assist them, but I had nothing.