Monday, November 27, 2017

Who buys the ferryman?

Everything was going to plan.

The suitcase was ready, the washbag packed, the papers checked, the boarding card downloaded.

I stepped across the thresh-hold and was hit by a gust of cold air.

The low-slung black-cab drew up, the boot opened...

I stepped down to sit on the leather seats and almost found myself sliding off onto the floor.

It was a new car.

The driver glanced back, checked the final instructions:

"Go to the end of the street, turn hard right, cross the main road, and then continue up there."

After passing the lights halting the absent dawn traffic we arrived in front of the gates.

We waited.
We waited.
We waited.

No colleague.

Telephone call.

"I am still in bed. I am really sorry. What do I do?"

"Try getting up and getting dressed." I offered helpfully...

All of this...this unexpected diversion, the emotion in the air, broke the scripted discourse.

Plan, phone, park, put bags in car, pointless pitiful...patter...paying...parting...(de)parture....

"It's cold, isn't it." "It's early, isn't it." "Can I have a receipt?"  "Thanks." "Have a nice flight." "Bye."

I and Charon (let's call him that) were brought together.

We spoke of how paying passengers abused their roles.

Who buys the ferryman?

"It's cold, turn up the heater. It's too hot now, turn down the heater. Change the music. I hate music."

They would do well to wonder who the driver is.

They would do well to wonder who the driver might be for their last flight.

They might seek more humility.

"People don't understand the work of a taxi driver." he said.

"We are like psychologists." he said.

"People open up to us."

"People tell us all sorts of things."

We spoke of constraint and separation, of birth, life, and death.

We spoke of the desire of the young to depart the home, the desire of parents to maintain control beyond the door.

"I fell out with my parents," he said.

"I found myself sleeping for nights in my car...alone."

We spoke of these liminal rides.

Who pays the ferryman?

I thanked him for the moment that we had spent together.

We shook hands warmly.

There was a feeling of mutual respect.

He disappeared into the night.

Meanwhile, my colleague had arrived.

We spoke on the phone.

Her baggage was oversized for the cabin.

She was terribly apologetic.

They wouldn't let her onto the plane.

"There are a number of ways of seeing it." I said.

"You are upset that you missed the flight."

"If this plane falls out of the sky, you will evoke divine intervention."

 I was caught between facile phrase and anxiety an instant.

1 comment:

  1. We're all on a journey from some place to some place else and at times our travels overlap, like two ships docking at an island, at the same time. We meet, we talk, we share, then one or the other of us departs for the next leg of the journey. I think life is enriched at each of these small stopping points.

    In my own work, I've been the island. People from many places stop for a bit of time, which could be years. We talk, we make friends. We share stories, hopes and dreams. I invest time in helping their stay be comfortable and productive.

    They, they depart. Someone new takes their place.