Tuesday, May 12, 2009
reality t.v. without the t.v.
my friend and i were sitting by the window of the cafe. it overlooks a bustling copenhagen street. this green BMW was parked across the street. we watched as two parking attendants circled the vehicle and discussed it. you see, it was parked too close to the corner and it needed a parking ticket. the female parking attendant punched information into her little handheld device and appeared to take quite a long time doing this. in fact, it looked like she went through the whole thing twice. after bashing parking attendants in general for a bit (seriously, how DO these people live with themselves), we got bored and stopped watching and eventually the parking attendants wandered away.
the next time we looked up, a stringy, gangly man with thinning reddish-blonde hair in a strange suit with too-wide pinstripes and a red shirt unbuttoned just a bit too far approached the car. he got in and riffled through some papers. we watched, waiting for him to see the ticket on the windshield. strangely, he didn't appear to see anything there.
his mouth was moving, so we assumed he was on the phone. lots of people have a blue tooth earpiece in their ears these days and although they look like they're talking to themselves, they're actually talking on the phone. he took a big swig out of a tetrapak container that may have either been wine or juice. the picture on the carton looked a lot like wine. it was a little early in the day for that, but what the heck. he then rifled through his papers a bit more and then got out of the car. we were sure he'd seen the ticket on the front window and was getting out to get it.
instead, there was the glint of a golden coin in the air as he tossed it up. he allowed it to land on the pavement and picked it up. yes. the man got out of the car and flipped a coin. then he got back in. and still showed no sign of seeing his parking ticket. we thought that was really weird and since my friend was getting up to go to the bathroom, she looked to see if there was a ticket. strangely, there wasn't. we wondered what all that walking around the car several times by the parking attendants was about.
we decided it was a guy who was hanging out in the car because he didn't dare to tell his wife he'd lost his job. he had to leave the house and pretend like he was at work all day, so she wouldn't know he'd been fired. he got out of the car again and got something from the back seat. it was some more papers. further supporting our theory. then, he began to admire himself in the mirror. he preened a bit and ran a comb through his hair. it was quite a lost cause, as he had pasty skin and too-light eyebrows and looked a bit unhealthy. no doubt from drinking box wine in his car at 11.30 in the morning.
when we left, we noticed that the car had german plates. and that seemed to explain everything--the lack of a parking ticket, his coloring and complexion, the strange clothes. if only i'd have seen his socks when he was out of the car, i could have pegged it earlier--you can always tell germans (especially men) by their socks.
we don't know what happened with him, as we had to leave. but for a little while it was like watching reality t.v. without the t.v. and frankly, without the reality. people are pretty weird when they think no one is watching.