Bluetooth Lottery

Bluetrooth Lottery

As the intercity train from Schiphol arrives at Leiden Central, we shuffle and readjust positions until we are standing on either side of the train doors. The twin doors heave and open with a sigh, letting rush-hour passengers out via the narrow aisle we’ve created. Once the last passenger gets off, we dash for the two cabins on the right. Each passenger holds the swinging glass cabin door for the next to catch as though passing the baton in a relay race, a perfunctory smile or nod in place.

I always sit in the upper deck. After I settle into my seat, my phone beeps. Martijn wants to share a song via Bluetooth. I crane forward and backward, rising from my chair, to catch a view of Martijn. Most people in the thirty-two-seater cabin have their eyes glued to the Metro newspaper, a tablet, or a smart phone. A few chat while one sips coffee from a paper cup. Our eyes meet and he smiles first.

This tall man with close-cut hair wearing blue jeans and brown lace-up shoes is a regular who waits for the train in outlier territory, at the end of Platform 4, way past the Kiosk shop. His glasses add seriousness to his good looks and he always has earplugs on. So, Martijn is his name.

I pair my phone with his and accept the song. Roy Orbison’s Oh Pretty Woman, fills my ears. I contain my laughter, cupping my lips with my hands and sneak another peek at Martijn. He is busy with his phone.

At Den Haag, passengers crowd the stairs leading down the doors. We sway left and right, holding the banister or resting on walls, as the train changes tracks to rest on Platform 8. On the platform and in the main hall, passengers move like a colony of soldier ants defending capitalism. I walk with unhurried steps to give Martijn a chance, but his long strides overtake mine as he rushes to chip out with his card.

On Tuesday, I check my phone several times and my disappointment mounts as we approach Den Haag. Since Martijn is sitting on the left side of the train like me, it is fruitless desperation to peep through the aisle. When we disembark, his long strides overtake mine just like yesterday.

On Wednesday, I arrive Platform 4 early, but he does not. He slips into the train seconds before the doors close and walks past our cabin to the next because it is full. I sigh and continue looking out the window. My phone startles me. Martijn has sent me 3 Doors Down’s, Here Without You. I smile and wonder about the range of Bluetooth technology before losing myself in the lyrics.

 

“Which song today?” my coworkers ask after I arrive at the office.

It is our game. Martijn has been serenading me for six days. The day I wore my red coat, they guessed, Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red. My burgeoning romance story doesn’t impress all.

“Aren’t you afraid of viruses and him stealing your information?”

“If you have the latest Android update, you’re safe,” another colleague counters.

We google the answer and I continue accepting songs from Martijn.

 

Martijn’s ritual is unchanged. He gives a perfunctory nod at the cabin door if I am behind him and hurries away after we disembark.

 

“This is maddening!” a coworker declares.

“What kind of clown doesn’t speak to a girl?” another shakes his head.

“A shy one; a Dutch guy,” I reply.

 

One evening, after I get off the train on my return journey, someone calls my name, “Angela.”

I turn, “Do I know you?”

“I’m Martijn.”

I leave his hand hanging as my mind struggles to do the math. I feel as if all but the last number of my lottery ticket has been called and when the last number is announced, it is a two instead of my three.

“Martijn?”

“Yes.” He smiles, revealing gap teeth. He is a couple of inches taller than I am, a blur on our section of the platform.

“It w . . . was you?” Disappointment makes my voice husky.

“May I buy you coffee?” He points to the Kiosk shop.

It is the least I can do. “Sure,” I say still subtracting, adding, and rewinding the lottery winner announcement.

We sit on a bench outside the shop, letting the paper cups warm our hands and watching people chip out or in. The sum doesn’t make sense.

“But . . . how did you know my name . . . my phone?”

“I checked for discoverable devices, took a stab in the dark, and watched you plug your headphones.”

He laughs. His chest and belly join his face. I do not.

“Life is funny,” he begins.

Yes, and here I am sitting with the real Martijn. I almost won the lottery!

“We spend so much time chasing what’s ahead, when we could just look back.”

I don’t have time for pop psychology. I take a sip of my coffee and calculate the number of sips it will take to finish. Lottery is a game of chance, a thrill-seeker’s fantasy.

“Like you,” he gestures with his cup, “You’re reaching for someone; meanwhile, he’s probably reaching for someone else—”

“Pardon?”

“Tall, handsome guy on the train . . .”

My cheeks burn. I dislike his tone and express it with mine. “Your point being?”

“Turn around and take a chance on who’s pursuing you instead of pursuing elusive happiness.” His eyes dance like flames.

Does he think life is like Lotto? Maybe it is. A search for, which lottery numbers come up the most, fetches 50 million results under one minute.

I sigh. “You shouldn’t send stuff to strangers.”

“But you liked my songs—”

“I was curious . . .” I look at my boots. “You invaded my privacy.”

“No, you let me in; you accepted my songs.”

I watch the sky exchange hues, blue for pale orange and then reddish-orange. Streetlights come on and trains whizz past. On the train platforms, crowds thin out. The probability of picking a single correct number in Lotto depends on how many balls have already been chosen.

“Angela? Angela . . . here’s a free tip, turn off your Bluetooth and people will leave you alone!” He gets up and throws his coffee in the bin. “Ready?”

I look ahead until I hear his footfalls fade.

In the morning, I turn off my Bluetooth and then turn it on just before I enter the train. People play the lottery in the irrational hope of winning something. Nothing suspends logic and inspires hope and dreams like the love lottery.

I look around, but Martijn is not in my cabin. I want to go to the next cabin to check, but I’m afraid of losing my seat.

The first time my phone beeps, it’s an email notification. The second time, it’s a WhatsApp message. The third time, Martijn wants to share a song via Bluetooth. I wonder about the range of Bluetooth technology as strains of Lionel Richie’s, Hello is it me you’re looking for, fill my ears.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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56 thoughts on “Bluetooth Lottery

  1. I really enjoyed this story and wasn’t expecting the ending at all. Loved the twists and turns it took. I was mad at Martijn- I felt like he embarrassed Angela for no reason. It’s not her fault she’s not attracted to him even if he’s the one pursuing 🙂 I obviously got really into the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How is this place not filled with comments about Timi’s choice of music for this piece? This is like a time travel into the playlist of an 80s forlorn lover.

    It’s interesting how Martijn thought of finding love as a pursuit, and Angela as lottery. If the equivalent of winning the lottery is realising the one we are pursuing is also pursuing us, I don’t know what that says about love. I wish I did.

    I read that last line, thought of the Lionel Richie/Adele video mashup that turned up online recently, and smiled.

    Like

    1. Lol@ mash up, different versions keep springing up 😉

      What is love? Pursuit, lottery? Maybe we’ll recognize ourselves in the characters or someone we know, and think about how we do love …

      Thanks Ife!

      Like

  3. LOVED this story!!! One question: what does chip out mean? I’m not familiar with that idiom.
    This story brings back memories of my commuter days when I made eye contact with some “Martijns” but never progressed to a conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol @ eye contact 🙂 I’m glad you loved the story.

      In The Netherlands, instead of buying paper tickets for trains, trams, metros, buses, we have the option of owning or using an OV-chip card. You load the card with x-amount of money and ‘swipe’ in before getting on the train, and ‘swipe’ out, when you get off. We refer to this as ‘chipping in or out’. I guess because the card is called an OV-chip card. It’s similar to the Oyster card in the UK. Do you know what you use in The States?

      Like

  4. What a great story! I mean, maybe not for Angela, but it’s quite intriguing as I know nothing about Bluetooth technology. I’ve been in her shoes though, hearing or believing someone is better looking, but not knowing and then being very disappointed. You always provide a good twist 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Timi,

    Oh wow! I wasn’t expecting that.

    Funny enough, the real Martijn seems like a person with so much depth, and that makes him 100 times more attractive than the good looking mistaken one. To me.

    “Turn around and take a chance on who’s pursuing you instead of pursuing elusive happiness.”- ♫ It feels good loving somebody and somebody loves you back ♫

    “Colony of soldier ants defending capitalism” I imagined them so vividly with swords, shields and amours. Lol

    “We spend so much time chasing what’s ahead, when we could just look back.” – That thing wey you dey find dey inside your Sokoto pocket, yet you dey travel to go find am for Sokoto.

    You always find ways to transcend the ordinary with your stories, I really admire that about you. 🙂

    Enjoy the rest of the week.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well the real Martijn seems to know how to pick his songs 😉
      I’d forgotten that ‘sokoto’ saying. In another context, yes, sometimes ‘elusive happiness’ is in our garden, if only we would cultivate it …

      Ah ah, we need to hang out and croon all those old love songs! Lol XD

      Thank you Nedoux. You’ve made my week! Have a good one too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is really, really good. Loved the idea of “you’re chasing a guy, who’s probably chasing someone else” and so on… Everyone focused on what’s ahead, around the next corner, instead of looking around (and, yes, even back). Great story. (And, having spent time in NL, I loved your description of the glass-door holding… “Perfunctory smiles and nods”… Yep. Polite, but distant. So Dutch 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the contrast between “civilized” pushing or jockeying for position outside the train doors and distant politeness once inside the train . . . 🙂

      Perhaps we need eyes at the back of our heads 😉

      Thank you!

      Like

  7. Yes, you’re quite right. She was not running. Lol. iKid! But it’s a good point. I concede it.

    @”Love…the pursuit of elusive happiness and the lottery”: 😀 yeah, it sure can feel like that. I think we made it that though. Ordinarily, I’d say that love is a deliberate partnership that can, like pure white light, explode into a rainbow of emotions and experiences if it is given any chance at all. But when you’re hunting a feel-good factor, well, we get hurt a lot and miss out on some of the best things out there. Did that at least once myself. Way back when. Haha.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha ha. While I was writing the story, I pictured Martijn as arrogant. We read through filters… a friend said it was Angela who was arrogant! Lol, maybe they deserve each other 😉

      Like

  8. *smirks* Lol. I like Martijn. Like someone already said here, had it been the tall, handsome guy, it would have been “he’s so sweet…” etc. He’s not. So he’s creepy and invading a stranger’s privacy. Stuff like that’s what I hate Hollywood for.

    As for pursuing something you want and not looking back to what you can have, I’ll risk being called a misogynist and say that men are different from women. We pursue women. Not the other way around. But anyone can disagree. We all have different experiences and if we agree on nothing else we all must agree that the world is violently throwing out the concept of rules and convention so… Anyway, a man will chase a woman not sit and take the one that’s easy and available. Unless he has issues that give him a conqueror complex so that he really only goes after women because they’re a challenge.

    Women, on the other hand, tend more and more these days to have a real difficulty judging men correctly. Much of what I hear about why a woman chooses a man has to do with looks and money in the pocket. So it takes quite a few heart breaks and sometimes broken bones and life readjustments for them to come to appreciate that the men who chase you may be better than the ones you chase.

    I’d say settling is not necessarily a bad idea. It’s only got a bad name. There’s a point to marriage. If you find that point in your relationship with someone that’s all that really matters even if you feel like you’re settling for less. A lot of times there’s more in the less. You just look less than you should at it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting observations. In this case, I don’t think Angela was chasing the imaginary Martijn. She walked with unhurried steps so he could chase her. He didn’t. 🙂

      Love … the pursuit of elusive happiness and the lottery 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Fabulous tale… kept !e wondering.

    I think Angela will come to like, maybe even love Martijn. Doesn’t she already? why did she accept that final song. Surely it wasn’t in the hopes that Martijn was a joker and the real Martijn was her Prince charming. LOL

    But then again, why do we have to look behind and see who is chasing us if our hearts/heads wants the guy in front of us? I mean, if the guy behind deserves a shot at what’s in front, so do we!

    What do you think T?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, why did she accept the last song? 🙂

      @if the guy behind deserves a shot at what’s in front, so do we! I think we shouldn’t settle, but I also think that sometimes people don’t really know what they want!

      Like

  10. profound to say the least…. lots of folks actually trade what is good for them for what they deem to be good for them…. key word “trade”…. our perceptions of “value” seems to be a construct… today, I would have soaked myself” (gladly, willingly) in the pool of nerds/geeks instead of aiming for “hanging with the stars” status.. but that is knowing what I know today!! then … you knew what you knew… then!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s fiction though I can see this happening in real life. The train stations and train platforms are from my commuting experience 🙂
      September was rather serious. I wanted October to be light-hearted, exploring love, relationships, social media, and technology. Thanks for reading XD

      Hmmm, money, power, status… powerful aphrodisiacs. Maybe when Angela finds out, she’ll be sending Martijn her own songs? 😉

      I like Pretty Woman too. The movie appeals to the part of us that wants to dream and escape!

      Like

  11. Martijn is smooth. Creepy but smooth. This makes me ponder on why and how often our endearments towards and disdain for others (and their actions), hinge on how much we like/respect them. If Martijn was the what/who Angela had hoped, “you invaded my privacy” may not have come to mind. Wedding bells might have eventually rung.

    It is why people say things like: “Yes, I am ________ but how dare she of all people say that to me.” Sometimes, it is not what is said/done that provokes the reaction, but the ‘who’ that says/does it.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. Splendid writing as always, Timi. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If the police is involved it’s no longer fun 😦
      In this case Angela held the ‘stop’ button.

      I like Lady in Red too 🙂 I don’t recall the movie, but it might not be because I’m too young 😉

      Thanks Jill!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Brilliant! I love it, completely.

    I had a Martijn once, mine was much creepier. He would send me text messages telling me how beautiful I looked in whatever I was wearing that day, making sure that I knew it was me he saw and not someone else. And he would also leave me gifts at my front door. I was so so scared! This went on for almost 3 weeks.
    Eventually found out one of my friends was in on it the whole time. I finally agreed to go out on a date with this mysterious guy and I too was disappointed *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Won’t it be exciting to meet someone like that? Or try taking a stab in the dark like dear Martijn? Lol I love this 😀 Still can’t leave my Bluetooth turned on like that, but I might accept a random file share out of curiosity.

    On another note Martijn (like this spelling variant) is right. We spend too much time chasing something(one) ahead when we could look back to see who’s chasing us. Why’s that?

    Beautiful story, Timi 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @won’t it be exciting to meet someone like that? Hmmm, there’s that element of mystery and his well-chosen songs, and the unfolding story is fodder for the coffee corner or a blog post … 😉

      My Bluetooth is on so I can automatically pair with my other devices for seamless living. I am curious, but not that curious, lol … I received a WhatsApp photo/video from a sender who’s not in my contacts today. Dunno whether its a prank in response to this blog post, lol 🙂 If I don’t hear from any of my contacts by the end of the day, I’m deleting without opening the file!

      Why do we spend too much time chasing something(one) ahead when we could look back to see who’s chasing us? Hmmm Uju, I don’t do pop psychology XD Seriously, it’s worth considering …

      Martijn is one of my favourite Dutch names.

      Thanks!

      Like

  14. This is beautiful! I suspected that Martjin would turn out to be someone different but it really wasn’t about the suspense, was it? I’d like to meet a Martjin though… I wouldn’t care what he looked like- at least I like to think so.

    Liked by 1 person

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