There’s hope for the species yet…

22 12 2011

Christmas is accelerating towards us, and today we had a celebratory pot luck lunch at work. We’re quite a culturally diverse bunch, and there was all manner of things to eat. We had some interesting music piped in from the internet, and one of our number combined their two passions of climbing and photography to get just the right angle on the feeding frenzy. As the consumption began, my good friend remarked that back in the old country – Iran in this case – respect would have been given to the “more mature” members of the group (meaning him and I… with the emphasis on I), and we’d have been given first choice of the comestibles – cheesy or otherwise. This was just a point of amusement, and as there was more food than you could shake a camera at, the moment passed painlessly into the shared history that is the stuff of memories.

As my kids have become educated in Canada, I’ve come to realise how poor the UK education system is in the specific area of English. I’ve learned much along with them, including the formal structure of stories. One term I am now familiar with therefore is foreshadowing. Turned out that this throw-away comment about the ill manners of the more ravenous youngsters in the group was such a beast.

Fast forward a few hours, and I make my way home. This used to be a simple end to end journey on an express bus between the still adolescent city of Vancouver (a mere 150 or so years old), and my home near White Rock. It used to take 50 minutes end to end. We now have a super-efficient SkyTrain service to take the madding crowd out of the city centre every 6-7 minutes, and disgorge them at a bus terminal from whence they can disperse to their various destinations across the Lower Mainland. Now that the express bus is relieved of its more tortuous route-segment getting in and out of the city centre, the frequency has been doubled. All well and good. What escapes me though is that, given the bus journey is now only a little more than half what it was… why it still takes 45 minutes! So, end to end, my journey is now LONGER in time, despite being the same number (actually slightly less given the more direct underground route taken by the train portion) of kilometres (and – obviously – miles, furlongs, chains, cubits or whatever other unit of distance you choose to use).

Where was I? Ah yes – the bus station. So anyway, I descend to the buses (there’s a reason it’s called the SkyTrain) and make the express bus just as the driver is about to leave. Result! The bus is packed, and I slip into what appears to be the last seat, on one of the sideways benches at the front. It’s a bit dark, and I breathe in as I squeeze between the bloke on the left and the chunky youth on my right. My peripheral vision fills in a few more details, and despite the initial assumption the student was male due to the dark clothing and knitted hat, a glance of nail polish adjusted the details to “probably female” – this is Greater Vancouver after all, and observations are often misleading. The doors close, and the driver lurches forward (with the bus and all we passengers, you understand – not on his own) to begin the coastal road drive to White Rock. After a mere metre or two though, we stop and the doors re-open to allow the ingress of a middle-aged lady. That’s nice. Some drivers can be anal about not stopping once they’re underway. She pays, doors close, and off we lurch once more. She stands right before me, back turned, confirming my prior assumption that the bus is indeed now full to the gunwhales. At this point my inner scout kicks in and I ask whether she’d like to have my seat. She turns a gorgon’s gaze upon me and simply states “yes”. Now somewhat less convinced my offer is being accepted in the manner it was intended, I feel obliged nevertheless to deliver on the offer, and duly stand up as she muscles past me into the pre-warmed seat. Oh well – it’s better to give than receive I’ve read, and ultimately I’d rather fall on her than the other way around as we lurch out of the bus station and down the road towards the motorway. Sorry – highway. (Hey – it’s only been 10 years, I’m still learning the language!)

So a few moments later, I’m adjusting my grip on the hanging strap, and we stop at the lights, ready to turn towards the highway. (See – I can learn!) I’m staring, unfocused, out of the windscreen, and idly waiting for the lights to change as I try to set the hefty student’s hat on fire with the pure power of thought. At this juncture however, I am awoken from my reverie by a polite tap on my shoulder and a most unlikely young man informing me that there is in fact a vacant seat in the murky depths of the bus’s rear if I’d care to take it. Thanking him, I follow him on his return journey up the entire length of the bus, to take the aforementioned vacant seat. I thanked him once more, and settled in for the trip home in time for the lights to then change. I smiled, happy in the knowledge that at least some parents are bringing up their kids in a way my old headmaster would approve.

This did not apply to the young lady sat opposite, who could have sat in a matchbox and had room for visitors, yet had somehow managed to take up two full seats with her ego. I’ll leave her fate to Darwin.

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2 responses

23 12 2011
Balash

A bit of faith goes a long way; afterall we’re are still here; aren’t we?

23 12 2011
Quieter Elephant

True, but is “here” where we want to be?

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