I always take my folding bike with me in the train when I go to work. It’s free when folded and it’s faster. I try to sit in the hall next to the first class compartment because it’s quiet and not so busy. Tonight I barely made it on time. I rushed to the door where the conductor stood and asked ‘Can I sit here?’ and he answered ‘Sure!’. So I quickly lifted my bike on to the train and sat down. As I sat down I saw a man through the window of the doors, standing in the other hall next to where I was. He acted pretty funny but I didn’t observe him that long, I folded my bike and sat down. After a few minutes the door to the other hall opened and the man I saw a few minutes earlier came through. He had a big grocery bag with milk packages and food. After he had put down his bag he started to kick dirt to the sides of the train while he sniffed continuously. Pretty.. different I guess. The man went on and sat on his knees, sniffing, rolling around and looking in his bag. He pretended to wash windows, at least he moved like that on his knees. I stayed in the hall because, well why not? He wasn’t really bothering me, he was in his own little world. But after a few minutes I started to feel awkward when he stayed in his little world. I was alone in the hall next to the first class compartment, which is rarely occupied and especially at that hour. But I knew that 1 conductor was sitting in the first class compartment, a lot of them do that by the way.. it’s pretty funny. They just chill around sometimes.
I went to the conductor and told him that I felt uncomfortable around the man. He went to the hall and the man repeatedly asked: ‘Do you smell that? Do you smell that?’. The conductor told me to leave my bags in the cabin he was sitting in and that I had to get my bike.
Settled down in the red first class seats we started talking about the man. I told him that I didn’t judge the man but I just felt uncomfortable. He replied: ‘If you feel awkward around someone, just leave. Sometimes I just don’t get people. One time there was a homeless man sitting in the train, it smelled pretty bad and all. But instead of leaving they complain afterwards.. If it bothers you just leave. Some people…’
‘Yes, exactly!’ I said. ‘Or they can just ask the man to move if they’re bothered with it. But people are afraid these days. A lot of people are individualistic and don’t look around that often anymore.’ The conductor said: ‘And you know what’s funny? The homeless man said, do I have to move? Okay! That’s fine. So it’s really not that hard. But I’m not sending someone away because of how they look or smell. With a job like mine you see a lot of people. Rude people also. Last time I had someone who said HEY CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY?’
‘And you just asked for his ticket or not? And was it an older person?’ I asked. ‘Yes’ He said. ‘I told this older woman that she was very very rude. I told her that my rules counted in that train. I’m the boss and I’m just doing my job.’
The train stopped and the friendly conductor had to step outside and whistle. After that we chatted on about how some people can look down at other people. I told him that I notice it a lot as I work as a sales adviser in a store for women. I can see how people look down at each other.. yeah women. But some people look down at me as well. Because I’m ‘just’ a sales adviser and especially because I’m young. They think I don’t know anything. The conductor nodded and said that people look down at him too. Business people, older people and just all kinds of people. He told me that they think that being a conductor is just about checking tickets. ‘Everyone can check tickets but it takes more to be a conductor. I’m a psychologist, a doctor, a bodyguard and so much more. I told one man once that he could keep on looking down at me, acting like my job was so low paid, but that I was sure that I made more money than him. I mean it’s not about the money, I just wanted to shut him up.’ And then he told me another story.
The conductor told me that he knew a surgeon once. He was an arrogant man, looking down on almost everyone and letting them now in a.. well.. bitchy way. The conductor asked him: ‘Do you also hate people with stinky armpits?’. The surgeon didn’t reply and the conductor walked away. Behind him was the surgeon smelling his armpits. I had to laugh after that story.
The ride home wasn’t that long so I had to say goodbye to the man. I unfolded my bike, he gave my bags and I was ready to step out of the train. I stopped and asked him his name. ‘Martin’ he answered. ‘Hello Martin, my name is Johanna’ I said and I shook his hand. ‘Goodbye, good luck on your trip and maybe we’ll meet again in Utrecht!’ he said. I told him about our big trip this summer and I told him that I was planning on studying in Utrecht after the summer.
Oh and something else. You probably have read about the great kings and other powerful people in history and about the ranks there were We no longer live in the divided society of a few hundreds years ago. We’re all equal, right? Or aren’t we? Have you ever thought about it that society nowadays is divided through stereotypes? For example, you belong to a particular group because of how you look. This is what’s dividing us. It’s basically a modern form of a medieval society. The ‘preps’ look down on the ‘skaters’ because they don’t look the same, they think different, they do this they do that etc. And the ‘skaters’ look down on the ‘rich people’ because they thinks different etc.
The German’s looked down on the Jews during the WWII right? So why was that? Someone told them to, their environment told them to, it made kids look down at a false truth. So basically everyone looks down at each other, looks down at a false truth and they all made it up in their heads.
HA. So that was a piece of my bouncing mind. I hope you understand it a bit, because I’m not going to bore you any longer. Good night. (Or Good morning) ( & Nice to meet you Martin )