Today I rediscovered the joy of being forced to stand still for a few minutes and do nothing but wait.
The waiting was for the bus. I worked late today, and since it was both windy and raining and I wasn’t really dressed for both wind and rain, I decided to take the bus home.
I stood in the entry area of my office building, keeping out of the rain along with co-workers who were taking a cigarette break. On the wall next to me hangs a sign which reads “No smoking by entrance”.
Two of the smokers were actually waiting for a taxi. When one showed up at the taxi stand, they headed for it. That’s when I noticed that the long black fence between the taxi area and the street had a gap. The fence is simple, with two horizontal rails placed at heights that make it uncomfortable to crawl under or step over, and the only way to get its other side is to take the long way round, which is also where the cross walk is. I had noticed earlier that a bottom railing had been broken, encouraging people to take the direct route and stoop under, rather than walk to the cross walk and around the railing. Now the top railing was gone, too, and the two smokers had an almost straight line to the waiting taxi.
Just after the taxi pulled out, an elderly woman wearing a plastic head scarf keeping her hair dry pushed a shopping cart with her shopping to the shelter set up for waiting fares. She didn’t have a long wait. Another car pulled in but didn’t stop next to the waiting area. The woman got up and left the bench in the shelter, pushing the cart. The taxi pulled up closer and the driver got out and opened the door to the back seat. He then went to the woman’s cart and started gathering up all her grocery bags and a bag from the shoe store. As he did, he told the woman that he hadn’t seen her. While he was storing the bags in the taxi, the old woman looked for some place to park the shopping cart. The driver told her to just leave it. I knew what she wanted: To retrieve her 10-krone coin from the cart. Norwegian supermarkets have coin-operated shopping carts to keep people from stealing them. The old woman’s attempts at getting her money back (which you do when the cart is slid into another cart) did not surprise me. The driver told her to just leave it as there were no other carts to join it with. The old woman then walked slowly but unaided to the car, and stiffly, while hunting for something to leverage herself with, she managed to seat herself in the rear, next to her shopping.
A little girl ran by on the sidewalk, on her toes, in pink trainers. I guessed she was trying to avoid back-splatter on her legs, which were covered in pale pink tights. I remember running like that myself as a kid.
The bus came, and I got on. As we pulled out, another taxi drove up, and the driver entered the little glass-and-metal shed the drivers can wait in. It has a keypad lock, and he swiped a card and punched in his code, and in one fluid, well-rehearsed movement, jammed an equally well-rehearsed plastic bottle in the door jamb. The well-used, waisted bottle kept the door open a few inches. I have seen the door jammed that way before. I imagine the air is pretty stifling in a tin can like that shed.
The bus stopped at a stop across from the local soccer field. It was obvious that a match was on. A long row of cars were parked along the side of the road, with two wheels on the sidewalk and two on the road, a European method of parking necessitated by narrow, medieval streets. New cars kept arriving, unloading kids, then manouvering into any available space.