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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Day in Tolerance

another day in tolerance

Now that winter is almost here, I have ditched the bus, tram, and train in favour of my car. Away from Potential Bestfriend, Regular Joe, and Young Generation, music accompanies my solitude. My heated interior obliterates memories of last year’s winter, of waiting on bus, tram, and train platforms, whipped by the wicked North Sea wind. In spite of this, I am still having another day in tolerance. Let me introduce you to the characters on my way to work.

The Nerds

People who drive 30km/h on a 30km/h road. To drive behind people like this is to simmer with the pressure of wanting to pee with no toilet in sight. They do not realise thirty is the new sixty. However, they know what it is to pay a 320 Euro traffic fine. You cannot meet their slow-motion stare as they crawl past, moments after you sped past them and the police flagged you down. After you calculate how to pay the fine and still lead a normal life, you laugh aloud at the idiot who just zoomed past you.

The Jokers

People who overtake you with zeal, and then slow down, forcing you to overtake them. As if on cue, they overtake you again and then slow down again. For them life is a game of chess, they have captured your pawns, knights, rookies, and queen too. You know how to beat them nonetheless. After a couple of moves, you decide the game is too juvenile to play. You slow down until they lose interest and speed off to court the next player.

The Sadists

People who drive slower than you do, so that you are right to overtake them. The minute you exert pressure on your accelerator, indicate, and switch to the left lane, something in them comes alive. They pick up speed to match your speed. Since you are already on the left lane, you increase your speed to overtake them. In turn, they increase their speed so you cannot overtake. Riding side by side, you sneak a peek. They are a study in casual concentration. You know people like this in real life, people who had a deficiency in childhood. Maybe it was potassium or vitamin K. Their motto: if I cannot get to heaven, then neither will you. You take the high road and follow lamely behind them, shaking your head as you whisper, “Life is too short; life is too short.”

The Non-Conformists

Aka the motorcyclists. They sneak up on you in traffic, stealth is their middle name; they love the strip of asphalt between two cars. You would too, if you have been moving at 10km/h for the last hour. They whiz through the narrow space and nearly take your side mirror with them. Your mirror bends to the limit of its elasticity and returns to its place. Your blood boils and refuses to cool until you remember that lottery-winning numbers are yet to be announced. You let your car roll and slap your ear as if brushing away a zizzing mosquito.

The Bullies

Aka the excursion bus drivers. They do not think the signpost that limits trucks to the slow lane applies to them. Maybe they are right. You passed your driving exam long ago. They obscure your vision, not only of the road and vehicles ahead, but also of the sun, the moon, and the stars. As you drive behind them, you wonder when you will see civilisation again. With nothing to do, you read the bus; you read about all the trips the company offers and commit the website to memory. As soon as the road widens, you change gears, enter the fast lane, and forget all you have read.

The Snakes

People who snake from one lane to another as if they have diarrhoea of the brain. Your head aches from watching their spiral, and it’s no wonder, they remind you of boyfriends that cannot commit. Oh, there they go again, searching for the next best thing. You let out a hiss that is longer than a snake’s, “Hisssss!”

The Lions

The Ferrari-like drivers who would rather be on a German autobahn, but a 70km/h road constrains them. They breathe down on your trusty Toyota, lights menacing, as you overtake a truck. The second you inch back to the right lane, they vroom vroom past you, leaving a trail of imaginary smoke in their wake and drag that causes your car to vibrate. When you catch up with them at the red light, the roar of their engine sounds like the bleat of a frustrated goat. The smug satisfaction on your face says it all. There is a god. No matter how rich and powerful some people are, we still shit the same brown shit. All hail traffic lights, the great equaliser.

Recognise any of my fellow travellers? What’s commuting like for you? I bet not as bad as Lucy Martin’s travails in Dubai.

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

Image credits: all people illustrations, animes, avatars, vectors by Microsoft

Background: lovely pink and gray card design by VisionMates in backgrounds/wallpaper http://www.vecteezy.com/backgrounds-wallpaper/47521-lovely-pink-and-gray-card-design

design: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013

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.