Friday, 26 December 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: Tight Corner

Have you ever managed to paint yourself into the proverbial corner because of your words? What did you do while waiting for them “to dry”?

Frost in the garden 23.12.2014

Let the words freeze somewhere in the cold air, as my grass did this morning outside in the garden. Mr. Swiss has now and again remarked that not everyone understands my humour, so I suppose I might have made one of my well-known ironic remarks which no-one really understands, but I am fortunate. There are a few things that rescue me from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

“She is english” that seems to be a good excuse. English people are not understood in Europe. Our ways and thoughts are adjusted to a different rhythm, although I have learnt a lot. There was a time when I entered a restaurant, or a train compartment, and sat in the next empty seat. This is wrong, at least where I live. You do not just sit in the restaurant, you wait until you are shown your table. Of course I am talking of the “better” restaurants, those with waitresses and waiters. If you enter the train in Switzerland and find a few empty seats and only one is occupied then do not plunge your body into the vacancy. Ask “is this seat vacant?”. Of course it is vacant, there is no-one except for yourself that wants to sit, but ask. If you sit without asking you might be glared at by the one person sitting on a seat. Perhaps she or he wishes to remain alone, just one of the mysteries of continental life.

There is a train known as ICE meaning Inter City Express and they are quite efficient and a fast connection between the big towns, but there is a codex to be observed when using them. I remember when arriving at Zürich Airport and entering the passport control. Unfortunately a plane had arrived from Israel at the same time so I queued with the other 100 passengers with their various documents. It seems that having a Swiss passport in Switzerland is not a large problem, but having an Israeli passport in Switzerland is. I was surrounded by immigration problems and I waited an hour until I actually got through the passport inspection. I was annoyed and tired and just wanted to go home.

I arrived at the luggage conveyer belt which was empty, where was my case? Apparently the man in charge gave up on me and deposited the case in the middle of the arrival area. I already had a feeling I was doing something wrong, I walked to the platform to await my next connection to bring me to my home town, no problem. It was a straightforward journey lasting an hour and it was a ICE train, one of the fast modern trains. At last the train arrived and I stumbled up the stairs and found a carriage where I could sit. I asked the customary questions about whether there was room for me and felt like the cowboy that entered the Wild West saloon where they all stopped drinking or talking and just stared. Did I resemble the latest serial murderer who was being searched for in Switzerland? Things happen while you are away for a time. Suddenly a finger pointed to an empty seat. At last I could phone Mr. Swiss and tell him I had safely arrived and was on my way, giving him time to tidy up the apartment before I arrived.

I dialled his number on my mobile phone and he answered immediately. I have a loud voice, and had to suit my voice to the decibels of the train motor. The wild west saloon customers all turned in my direction staring, what had I done wrong? Regardless I continued telling Mr. Swiss about my airport adventures and then progressed to a short description of the flight etc. etc. The was my first conversation of the day with Mr. Swiss. 

There was progress, the silent travel companions, shook their heads  and the chief traveller (she was an elderly lady with a book in her hand) put her fingers on her lips and the senior gentleman sitting next to her pointed to a sign on the carriage wall showing the words “Realm of Quiet”. Had someone died in this carriage, was a requiem being held? I panicked, fearing an attack of travel zombies,  took my luggage and dragged it to the next carriage where there was the sound of people talking on mobiles, mothers telling their children to behave, and an atmosphere of being amongst the living.

This was my first encounter with the special compartments for the apparent dead, the travelling undead. It was not because of MY words I had been in the proverbial corner, it was because of words, breathing, moving and other such signs of life. I made an oath, to avoid ICE trains if possible and to carefully scan the walls of all trains compartments for weird signs threatening noise emissions and disturbance of the travelling dead.

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