Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Senior Service

Laura and I went to a beach today called Sant Pol de Mar, which is about an hour train ride north of Barcelona. It was a perfect beach day and around 6pm we were ready to head home. We walked back to where we'd gotten the train. We sat on a bench on the opposite side of the tracks from where the north-bound train had dropped us off hours earlier.

We had been sitting there a few minutes when I heard the signature "ttssst" that is a Spanish person trying to get your attention. I've become pretty good at ignoring this, but then it was followed by "chicas, Barcelona." At that I had to look up. Across the tracks was a very old man. He repeated, "Barcelona" and gestured to his side of the tracks, "por aqui," he said, meaning "over here." There did seem to be more people on that side so we took his word for it and crossed the tracks, thanking him when we got there.

While we were sitting waiting, we saw him assist three other people the same way. He had a gift for knowing exactly who was going to Barcelona and needed his help getting where they needed to go. When the train came and we climbed aboard, we noticed that he stayed seated on his bench. I determined that he must have decided it is his responsibility to sit on that bench for the express purpose of telling people that they are on the wrong side of the tracks.

I imagined him sitting with his friends over a beer at night saying, "You know, it's my busy season right now, they're really busting my hump down at the station. These city folk don't know their ass from a hole in the ground, I don't want to think what would happen if I wasn't putting in these extra hours. It would be chaos, I tells ya, chaos!"

I pictured him with a clicker like bouncers use to count how many people are getting into a bar, ticking off every misguided beachgoer he's aided. Then heading to the local chamber of commerce at the end of the beach day to report on his progress. "Well, Pilar, my numbers were a little low today, but you saw that cloud cover, people stayed home. I did what I could with what was there."

It made me think that I might want a similar occupation when I reach such an age. I'm thinking I might plant myself outside of large buildings like offices and libraries and warn people as they approach as to whether the door is a push or pull. I think that's something I could feel good about. And if they look like jerks I'll tell them the opposite. Since I'll be a sweet little (probably about 4'2" by that point I'd imagine) old lady so they won't really get mad, they'll just think I'm confused. I can't wait.

1 comment:

Beth said...

I think my favorite thing about this post is your forecast for your future height. I like to imagine a 4'2" Ali.