We just moved to a new place. My partner and I are assembling an Ikea bed.
Today is the hottest day of the year. We are sweating.
I am ‘learning’ how to do it while holding the tools for my partner. The floor can play the same role, so I’ve given myself the glamorous role of a magician assistant.
He is trying to screw metal into metal. That’s challenging. I know because I tried. ‘This is rough to the touch’ I say, ‘They should work more on making edges less sharp.’ With that statement I drop the tools and lie on the carpet.
I start presenting his magic from the floor.
I think we are stuck.
It looks like a good time to make some procrastination.
I give up. If it were for me we would sleep in the floor for the rest of our days.
My sense of duty keeps my mind busy, though. What would a magician assistant do in the face of adversity? Give him another magic wand? Distract him with something more palatable than the task in hand? Shall I mention a banana cake?
It doesn’t seem the right moment for that for two reasons. One, I don’t look line a magician’s assistant. I have the languid exhaustion of a person covered in sweat. Two and most importantly, he is well and dealing with the task in hand.
The job requires him to become more savage in his actions. He is determined. Insistent. I see him starting to transform into a slender Hulk. Before he starts to make it personal with that bed I mention a banana cake. He grins; he says it would be nice to eat some.
He accidentally bends one of the metal parts. With a rough but calculated move that startles me, he puts it back into place. He gets it done. After a few minutes we are putting the mattress.
Later that day, I am in the bus stop. I’m going to Tesco to buy some ingredients for a banana cake. There is a man smoking.
A bus shows up. I gesture for it to stop.
It passes by.
The man looks at me surprised. He says nothing. He looks away and continues smoking.
I have a vague sensation of déjà vu. I’m angry.
I was born in Buenos Aires. I would understand it if a bus doesn’t stop there.
A bus stop can be a tree or a corner with no sign. You would know that it is a bus stop because a local told you. In Buenos Aires, even when you are standing in the wrong tree and signalling, buses will stop. Similarly, if you want to get off in the middle of traffic, they will open the door for you. A friend used to ask them to take her for free and they would accept. In there, bus drivers feel like helping you at times.
If you catch a bus driver at the wrong time, though, he might feel like not helping you. Maybe he is going too fast and he realises you where there when he already passed you. Or he may feel like not stopping.
I’m quite sure this bus driver, a Londoner, saw me today and knows his duties. I will write to TFL. I will…
Then I remember.
In the UK buses come from the right rather than from the left. I was trying to stop the bus from the wrong side of the road.
The smoking man must be thinking I am a tourist.