Scary stories from a lovely place
The worst thing that will probably happen to me this year, happened yesterday at 09h40. I had been on the phone and the internet since 08h55 trying to get tickets to the Radiohead concert in November. While ignoring my children I was frantically dialing, redialing, clicking, entering and re-entering annoying ‘captcha’ security words and getting more and more frustrated. And then instead of the engaged beep I heard the sweet sound of ringing. I was through! But I was politely informed that the two Sydney shows were sold out.
I couldn’t believe it. My world crashed. I got in the shower and had a good cry. Silas does this cute thing at the moment if he sees me cry. He imitates me in a perfect fake crying way. He did that on the other side of the shower door, just rubbing in my pain, stomping all over my crushed dreams.
I take Radiohead pretty seriously. They have been my favourite band since high school. I have defended them against many foes, and stood by them through thick and thin, through the Amnesiac/Kid A diversion, the In Rainbows low and the King of Limbs comeback. It’s unjust that I don’t have a ticket to their November concert. I should be an invited, honoured guest.
Once I pulled myself together I headed into the city to have dinner at my parents house. On the way I witnessed a nasty accident and then a nastier fight between a motorcyclist and pedestrian. It was raining, and peak hour. The pedestrian was crossing the road (pushing the red I think), earplugs firmly blocking out necessary traffic noise, when a motorbike had to slow and then brake suddenly for him. A car promptly crushed into the back of the bike, making that unmistakable crumpling noise. The pedestrian, who hadn’t even noticed, kept crossing the road. The uninjured motorcyclist leaped from his bike, which had become one with the car, ran across the intersection and in a rage tackled the pedestrian from behind – into oncoming traffic and dragged him back to the central median strip. It was pretty ugly.
My light turned red and I was stopped right next to the entangled two. My civic duty took over. I wound down my window and weighed in. I shouted at the motorbike rider that he shouldn’t have tackled the, now very pale, bloody and shaking pedestrian into traffic! Yes I had seen that it was his fault, that he inadvertently crushed your precious bike (motorcyclists do love their machines), but even so, he is a human and therefore more precious. (If I have no emotional involvement I rather enjoy confrontation.)
But then my light was green and I had to go. I wanted to stay and be an advocate for the pedestrian, but I didn’t know where to park or what to do with my children, who were meekly sitting in the back. I drove on. I feel guilty that I couldn’t do more. Every time I closed my eyes last night I saw the pedestrian being tackled onto the road. And I do feel sorry for the motorcyclist too, they have a tough time on the roads without having to deal with stupid pedestrians.
Later I watched a documentary on SBS about homeless people in Antananaviro, the capital of Madagascar. There was a woman who lived on a street corner with her five children. She had commandeered a local skip and searched the contents every day for anything worthy of reclaiming. During the nights she collected rubbish looking for something someone might want.
This woman was known by locals as Madame Victoire – Victory – because she had a plan for getting her kids off the street. In the early hours of the weekend mornings she takes her stash to a market and sells it. Old shoes, tin cans, plastic bottles, all of this she is able to sell and put away every little bit of money. There were images of her keeping her family’s patch of footpath clean and ordering her kids to do their chores.
It’s easy for me, with my cushy life, to experience something terrible like missing out on Radiohead tickets and feel hopeless and desperate. I won’t lie – it will sting in November when I can’t go or when people crow about their tickets. But I’ll survive.
I don’t need to go (I’ve already seen them twice anyway!). I don’t need half the crap I own, or half the experiences I aspire to. It’s easy to feel entitled to stuff. But really, I’m not entitled to anything I have. It’s just luck, or weird chance, that this is my easy life, while others have a much harder one. Terrible things did happen yesterday, but not to me.
(If you can pick the veiled reference to a Radiohead song somewhere in this post you’ll earn my respect. But if you have tickets I don’t want to hear about it.)