Monday, September 4, 2017

Thinning the herd

This morning Kate and I went on errands, trying to wrap up some of the school supplies the boys need.

Waiting on the trolley platform with us was an older woman with a cane. When the train came she made her way to the second set of doors and started up the steep steps into the car.

Kate and I had boarded at the front door and were already on when the driver closed the door - on the woman with the cane. She was mostly in, but it seemed like maybe her leg and her cane were still sticking out.

Three or four people near her on the train immediately came to her help, prying the door open to get her the rest of the way in, freeing up the nearest seat, and helping her to it. There were a couple of scornful glances forward in the direction of the driver, but with a sense of "what the hell can you do about it."

The woman seemed to take it in stride, no outward sign of anger at the driver, and clear appreciation for the help from strangers. At first she even seemed to waive off the offer of a seat, but she did end up taking it.

I don't know that this is common, but I know it's not isolated.

Seven years ago, the last time we lived here, I was waiting for the bus up to my campus, which is always a sardine can during the morning windows when many students are on their way to a class.

Standing with me at the platform was a woman with a  crutch. When the bus came, a couple of young, able-bodied people got on and smushed their way in. I judged that there wasn't room for both me and the woman with the crutch, and I had some leeway, so I stood back to let her board.

She was halfway on when the bell rang and the door started to close, right on her.

I grabbed the door and held it while the woman fit herself into the bus. I let go and it snapped shut.

The Czechs are a small nation, about 10.5 million, the westward salient of Slav-dom, proudly holding out against being absorbed into the broad expanse of the German-speaking world.

The rough treatment of semi-disabled people by public-transit drivers seems an odd way to keep your numbers up.

Then again, the women in both these incidents were old enough that they'd already had whatever kids they were going to have. Perhaps this business of clipping them in trolley doors is some echo of the supposed Inuit practice of setting the old people adrift on an ice floe when there wasn't enough food to go around.

Are Czech transit drivers ensuring adequate nutrition for the young by culling the slower-moving older members of the tribe?
Apparently we were moving too fast for the driver to catch us.


  1. I'm pretty sure Prague tram drivers want us all dead so that they can drive their trams through the streets without impediment.