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foraging 1964

THE HAUNT OF A GUERILLA BICYCLE (guerilla bicycles are said to frequent wooded area’s with muddy paths and other places avoided by Station Masters and Bus Drivers)

DEFINITION OF A GUERILLA : A MEMBER OF A SMALL INDEPENDANT GROUP TAKING PART IN ACTIVITIES PERFORMED IN AN UNDERCOVER AND IMPROMPTU WAY WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION AND AGAINST A LARGER GROUP.

THE GUERILLA GROUP: Myself and the yellow bicycle.

THE TARGET: the system (trains mostly)

SETTING THE SCENE: 

Its dark and cold and wet.

The rain is coming down in torrents. I am struggling. My head is bent down against the wind.

My hood has blown off and my hair is stuck to my head. Rivulets of water are flowing into my eyes but if I take my hand off the handlebars to wipe them away, I nearly lose my balance.

I cycle on blindly.

Thats the downside of my morning commute so far.

The upside is I reach the station at six twenty two and my train isn’t leaving for another eight minutes.

I might be waiting even longer than eight.

The Powers that be seem to delight in any excuse to cause a delay and take great pleasure when there is one.

‘The signals are down at Connollys station’ They call out in a cheerful voice over the tannoy as though announcing the winner of a competition.

‘Heavy rain and danger of flooding has delayed the seven am train. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused’ sings out a very unapologetic sounding voice.

And my favourite of all  ‘Leaves on the track have delayed the eight thirty train until further notice.’

I can imagine they would be ecstatic if it snowed.

My waterproof trousers make a swishing noise as I cross the familiar marble floors to the turnstyle. The feeling returns to my fingers in the warmth of the station and I fumble in my bag for my ticket.

I am just about to blip myself and the yellow bike through when I hear a voice echo through the empty station.

‘Hey you’

I look around. There is no one else in the station except a man sitting behind the glass in the ticket office.

Our new station master! resplendent in shiny jacket and peaked cap

‘Yes you’ he repeats when he sees me looking at him.

He beckons to me and I push my bike over obediently.

He looks at me balefully from over his cup of coffee. a warm scone, the butter melting on it, lies at his elbow and there is a newspaper with the horse racing page open in front of him.

‘No bikes allowed on the train at this time’ He says.

‘But’ I push a strand of wet hair out of my eyes ‘I always bring my bicycle on at this time. The old station master never minded’.

‘Not anymore’ he says pompously, reaching under the table and pulling out a booklet. With a flourish he finds a page and jabbing a butter smeared finger at some print.

‘See! It says here, no bikes until after ten am.’

‘Thats such a stupid rule’ I say ‘There is hardly anyone on the train at this time of the morning what difference does it make if I take the bike on there’s plenty of room for it It’s not in anyones way and I need my bike so I can be in work on time AND when I get off duty at eight thirty it means I will be in time for the eight forty train home’.

I recover my breath after my long sentence.

I was going to point out that lots of people take their bikes on this train but I didn’t want attention brought to them in case they suffer the same fate I am about to.

Anyway his face was getting redder and redder so I thought I better stop.

‘NO BICYCLES’ he repeats loudly jabbing his finger at the page again.

I stand for an instant wondering if I should persevere with my argument but he has turned his attention back to his racing page and his scone.

I push my bike back outside and lock it to the bike rack. I was now not only cold and wet but also very grumpy.

Then a thought strikes me.

Everything happens for a reason!

Maybe this is the morning I would have been knocked off my bike as I cycled on the busy ‘four laned no bicycle path’ road from the station to the hospital.

I decide instead of being annoyed I would see it as ‘a sign’ and so as I pass the him again I smiled and nod, silently thanking him for perhaps saving my life.

He looks at my smiling face suspiciously.

‘Rules are rules and thats that!’ He calls out after me smugly.

‘We’ll see about that’ I murmur but I keep that thought to myself.

I mull over a way to beat the system as the train trundles along, smiling everytime someone with a bicycle comes on board.

The first bike came on at bray, a large station with lots of train officials who probably just turned a blind eye. Which made me realise it was just my misfortune that I now had Mr Self important as my new station master.

I was ten minutes late for work and I headed home on the later train feeling tired and grumpy having missed my regular one. But I reminded myself I was alive and was happy again.

THE PLAN:

The next morning my alarm clock went off early.

I arrived at the station thirty minutes earlier than normal.

The main doors were shut as I suspected would be the case, but the side entrance was left open for very early commuters.

I slipped my bike through the side gate and wheeled it along the dark platform to the end and hid it behind a bin out of sight of the security camera’s, then I walked out of the station and bought myself a welcomed coffee at a tiny early morning coffee stand and waited.

Standing hidden in the shadows of a tree sipping my warm drink, I kept one eye on the station clock and one eye on the door.

At exactly seventeen minutes past the main doors slid open and there was my station master.

He darted across the road to the coffee kiosk and returned in exactly 3 mins with his coffee and his scone and a newspaper tucked under his arm.

I waited a few minutes to give him time to get settled then strolled casually through the empty station towards the barrier.

I glanced over at him as I passed his glassed in boudoir.

He was looking at me suspiciously with some butter dripping down his chin. I longed to tell him to wipe it off. To look ‘the part’ for his very important job but instead I called out a cheery good morning and clicked my self through.

I walked back up the darkened platform, pulled the yellow bike out from behind the bin and we boarded the waiting train.

I was in plenty of time for work.

That evening I got my usual train home, but before I cycled away I synchronized my watch with the clock at the station.

THE STING:

The next morning I got up at my usual time and arrived at sixteen minutes past and again stood, this time with my bike, hidden in the shadows.

Lo and behold at exactly seventeen minutes six, the doors slid open and the enemy ran across the road. I bided my time until I heard him bossily ordering his coffee and scone and quietly I slipped unnoticed through the station door, across the marble floor, pushing the yellow bicycle, and out the other side onto the platform.

My third morning I arrived at the station at exactly eighteen minutes past and pushed my bike through unheeded.

And have continued to do this successfully since.

AND LATER:

In life there is always another of the same ilk somewhere in the vicinity, a cousin a brother, maybe even a twin.

Yesterday I spent the morning in a small village further along the train line, exploring its quirky laneways and taking photos of the harbour.

I planned to meet a friend for coffee on the other side of the city later in the afternoon so I arrived at the station at twenty seven minutes passed past three, three minutes before the time bikes were no longer allowed on the train.

I was stopped by the station master with a ‘no bicycles allowed at this time’ speech.(He looked very like my station man, possibly a brother) I argued that it wasn’t yet half past. He cleverly kept up the argument for three mins then looked at the clock and said ‘well it is now’ and refused to let me through.

I wheeled my bike out and cycling as fast as I could to the next station about 2 kms further along I chanced my arm (it was now 35 mins past). I pushed my bike over to the barrier, looking hopefully at this station master.

He just smiled and waved me through.

But its not only a syndrome of station masters.

Bus drivers can be affected too.

My son in law recently told me how he had arrived at the bus stop one day after work just as the bus was closing its doors. He tapped politely on the doors to alert the bus driver that he wanted to get on.

The bus driver shook his head and sat waiting to pull out into the traffic (which he couldn’t do as the traffic was so heavy). My son in law tapped again. If he didn’t get on this bus he would have a long wait (being a country service it only went every hour).

But the bus driver refused to open the door even though he was STILL unable to pull out.

So my son in law turned and started running.

He ran all the way down D’olier street, out onto college green. He ran on past trinity college and down Nassau street until he arrived at the next bus stop seconds before the very same bus delayed by the heaviness of the traffic pulled in. I would have loved to see the expression on the bus drivers face when he opened the doors at the stop.

Which also leads me to consider another commuter plight.

MAKING SENSE:

The train arrives from the city center into our little station every thirty minutes! It would seem the sensible thing that the bus would pull in and the passengers going further afield could hop off the train and continue their journey by bus.

But no! that would seem too sensible.

Instead the bus pulls off three minutes before the train gets in and the people getting off the train have to wait another 27 minutes for the next bus to come to complete their journey.

However

Sometimes if you are very lucky and the train is a wee bit early and the bus a wee bit late and if you are young and agile and swift of foot and strong enough to push everyone aside, you may get out of the train and across the station and out through the door to the bus and gain a foothold before the bus moves off.

Then you ‘the hero’ or ‘the guerilla’ as I would prefer to refer to you as, pretends to drop your money and with one foot in the doorway of the bus and one on the pavement you root frantically about your feet as if searching for your lost bus fare exclaiming loudly ‘there it is’ and ‘look here’s another euro’.

And while you are carrying out this delaying tactic, all the passengers of the train seeing their chance, surge out of the station en masse, climb over you and onto the bus and there is nothing the bus man can do to stop them.

So you see! sometimes we, the innocent public, in trying to get about our daily lives peacefully, to work, to home, to see our families, to visit friends, to do our shopping, to go to the library to visit sick relatives in hospital, to go to school, to go to college, using public transport, are forced to resort to impromptu actions which I would prefer to refer to simply as ‘guerilla activities’.

Sometimes it is our only hope of getting from A to B on the same day.

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SOMETIMES OUT OF SHEER DESPERATION WE HAVE CONSIDERED LEAPING ABOARD A  MOVING TRAIN JUST LIKE IN THE OLD COWBOY MOVIES.. 

 

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