The Legend of the Lost Driver

“Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately we can find no driver for the train. We are currently asking permission to drive the train ourselves.” You see, this is why the Dutch people look upon the Belgians as “not that bright”. They just have odd ways. Our difference can be explained logically by the fact that back in the 16th century, the Belgians hunted the free thinkers and the rebels away towards the Netherlands.  “He who’s without sin throw the first stone”, I hear some close friends call out. You’re right, but let’s focus on the Belgians for now.

We happen to have a Belgian fellow traveller, Manuel, so I dare not mention the day we saw a car with a red and white licence plate drive in reverse over the highway’s emergency lane, to get the exit he missed. Manuel is a long haired fellow with a very tidy beard which reminds me of Edoras, the king of Rohan. He is a free lance theatre builder, enjoying his job because he gets to see the best moments of his clients. Strange though it may seem he is making his way from Amsterdam to London for a weekend trip. Good for us, because he is nice company. But I don’t mention the fact that he’d use the word “bag” to say “mug”.

“I’ve never driven a train before” says Manolo. “I am going to see if I can drive it maybe.” Like us he is slightly agitated because the delay is 30 minutes already, and it appears to become a big one. He has to catch his train to London in Brussels. “This is my chance to drive one”, he says while he walks through the door towards the driver’s wagon. I find the situation charming. It is an answer to my annoyances of late, about society’s obsessive demand for qualified experts in everything. Such demand kills creativity. Besides, how hard can it be to drive a train? The thought touches a pain in me, but that doesn’t hurt. The train starts driving. My sister and I are convinced that it’s him behind the wheel. When he comes back, mentioning he stayed away for a while because he hoped we’d believe that he was driving the train, the conversation flows. I keep my mouth shut about the life threatening highway near Verviers, for which they advertise near the road by putting up signs with the amount of lethal accidents that happened there last year. My sister congratulates Manuel with the world record Belgium recently set in ”longest parliament formation duration”. 541 days.

All of us are a little sad when we finally reach Brussels with different destinations.


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