‘We call it a little Christmas tree.’
The man is wearing an old, fluorescent type of railway clothing. He’s explaining that when a train breaks and occupies the track, one train after the other have to find a parking spot, while awaiting access. They are placed next to each other on dispersing tracks. From above, it’d look like a Christmas tree.
‘The restructuring has been a disaster. There used to be one guy in command. He would make a decision in such situations and solve the problem immediately. Nowadays everything has to be done according to detailed plans, so when something unexpected happens, nobody knows what to do. It’s a disaster. I don’t even dare to wear my professional outfit anymore, because people on the street shout at me. That’s why I’m wearing this old tunic.’
The man knows the details about what is going on and informs me about it all. Yet the way he looks and the way he talks make me wonder if he’s not a retired man who believes he is still employed. Wandering around on the station of Amsterdam hoping for some acknowledgement from travellers. Later, when he opens the doors of the train, I ask myself why I thought that. The randomness of the act maybe? Why do I believe people have hidden agendas? Try to sell me something. Can’t people simply be making conversation? I used to value these occurences in a less judgmental way. It was nice of him to tell me this, that’s all.
With a delay of 11 minutes, we are leaving at 13.33 instead of 22, I’m heading back to my birth country. Past flatlands with polders and windmills. The blue sky shows it’s quite cold outside. White stripes in the air. A murky outlook on the horizon, pinkish, almost red white. I never planned to live here for so long. The high degree of organization here, visible in the landscape, used to scare me as a kid. Later, I looked down upon the Dutchness of the state. But here I am, after 13 years, trying to make something out of my life far away from its origin.
Switch of trains. Waiting time in Rotterdam: 1 hour. A guy in the new train steals a bag from another. A woman behind me notices it. Screams. Excitement. But they’re too late. She speaks loudly. Spectators talk about it. It’s funny how this concerns us all. Almost as if it is our duty to condemn it. It is. But the owner of the bag should have paid attention. Acted when the woman screamed.
The train is fuller than the previous one. More squeezed in. It changes the quality of my contemplations. Makes it harder to write. So I’ll just post it this way. There’s quite a lot of railroad ahead. The situation in the compartment will keep shifting dynamically. Tonight, when I hug my sister, it’ll be long dark..