A Waiting Game
Whizzing along beside Jakarta's clogged thoroughfares in an air-conditioned Trans-Jakarta limited stop bus is generally a pleasure. Yesterday it wasn't, but then it was a Friday evening, so what with commuters trying to get home or off to their weekend pleasure resorts and the fact that some of the busway routes don't yet have their full complement of buses does add somewhat to the current inconvenience.
What also adds is the perennial moan: queuing, or the lack of it. The illustration, borrowed from the Maverickid blog
, shows only part of the problem. These folk may look orderly, but it's absolute mayhem when a bus pulls up. You may have thought you were at the head of the queue, but there is always someone who'll manage to squeeze in front of you.
This, and the reviews of a book by Dr Joe Moran
, Queuing for Beginners
, to be published in May, on the histories and meanings of daily habits 'from breakfast to bedtime'
, got me pondering about the psychology of waiting.
, Joe suggests that we should reclaim the lost art of killing time and celebrate the boredom of just hanging around
. If it weren't for my need to earn enough to support my family, I would agree 100%.
Most of you reading this will have a symbol of 'success', a handphone
. Regular readers may well stop reading further at this point because you know how much I dislike these intrusions. And I have yet to be convinced that I'll need one.
"Sorry - I'm going to be late because some lumpen ijjit was too busy shouting into my headspace with his/her h.p to notice that they were originally behind me in the queue. So they've stolen my footspace on the bus.
Reliance has been abdicated from self to gadget: "Hello, Search and Rescue? I'm stuck up this volcano and the only survival gear I've got is this handphone .... hello .... hell .... help ..... Shit, the battery's dead.
No-one needed instant messages eight years ago, so who needs them now? Folk are so busy living in the instant that there's no time for reflection of what has been and what might be. Or, indeed, what is. It seems that a nation of zombies is being cloned to flow along life's conveyor belt.
How else to explain Adam Air's continued popularity with folk anxious to save a couple of dollars in their quest to get somewhere a few minutes faster. What are they saving? How could their savings in time and money be better spent?
How about having an encounter with someone?
A couple of days ago I rushed up to Mangga Dua to get my computer fixed ~ and all it took was an eraser to clean connections!! My speediest route is the Bogor-Kota commuter train, a journey for stoics, described here
The first train came, but was going to Tanah Abang. A second train came, stopped and .... the doors didn't open. This was a shame as it was an express train straight up to North Jakarta. Another train came along and I boarded. The next stop is Manggarai which is apparently going to be Jakarta's main train hub at some time as loads of lines converge here, including the one to Tanah Abang which my train was, I discovered, unexpectedly heading for.
So I got off, found a perch and waited next to a guy who thought I was Dutch, or Australian or ... Anyway, he was from Timor Leste which were the only two words I understood. In Indonesian I asked him if he spoke Indonesian and he answered me in one of the many dialects
of the former East Timor, possibly Tetun. (The number of languages listed for East Timor is 20. Of those, 19 are living languages and 1 is extinct
So we tried to communicate in his Portuguese and my virtually extinct Spanish. This didn't work either but, we did board the right train together and shared a mandarin orange bought from one of the many itinerant vendors who enliven commuter train journeys.
He got off before my stop. We smiled, wished each other well and I didn't regret one instant of my lengthy wait.