I am feeling tired and emotional after my trek to work this morning. I am not using ‘tired and emotional’ as a euphemism for being drunk in this instance. I am actually tired and emotional after my two and a half hour journey.
Ireland is a country with a temperate climate – mild weather with a high probability of rain, is the situation pretty much all year round.
Every now and then we will encounter an unusual cold spell. A bit like the one Ireland is in the grip of, at the moment. The temperature fell to minus 8 degrees in places last night. There was a code orange snow warning. Motorists were warned not to take unnecessary journeys because of ice on the road. It all sounded very apocalyptic.
Since the decision was taken to give inclement weather human names, (Hurricane Maria; Storm Ophelia etc) there seems a tendency for people to regard themselves as starring in their own disaster movie; bravely fighting the elements. That the weather has become a sullen force for evil, that we brave citizens must overcome.
If the truth be told, we are pretty hopeless when it comes to dealing with the weather. Ireland is not unique in this. The Netherlands was the same. A country like Finland or Canada can deal with snow blizzards with ease. The airports remain open; the trains are running; cars are equipped with snow tyres. They are prepared for this. It happens a lot. Life continues.
In Ireland, or the Netherlands – nations with milder weather – a 2 centimetre snowfall causes a national nervous breakdown. Schools are closed; flights are cancelled. There is rolling 24 hour news about the storm in Termonfeckin which blew the roof from a wood shed. The country almost grinds to a halt.
Which brings me to my journey to the wastelands today.
I left my house at 8.10am. My bus was at 8.30. I ought to be at work by 9.15. Easy-peasy.
Because of the biting cold, I took the executive decision to take the tram to my bus stop. I would normally walk – the twenty minute stroll is good exercise and sets me up for the day. I couldn’t deal with the wind, biting at my face today. A nice warm tram, jammed like sardines in a tin, with my fellow passengers was preferable.
I reached my bus stop.
Then waited some more.
Just to make sure I was nice and frozen, I waited even more.
At the size of the road, with my fellow passengers, all waiting to board the bus that never arrives, to the industrial wastelands of County Dublin.
The 8.30 bus was due in two minutes, according to the lovely telephone app that is meant to keep you informed of arrival time. Two minutes later the app updated its information to claim that the next bus would arrive in fifteen minutes.
This continued for an hour. I would watch the numbers on the phone as they made their relentless countdown to arrival time. At about a minute to go, my eyes would dart to the road, my soul crying to the heavens for a bus to appear. The figure on screen would adjust again. Next bus in fifteen minutes.
People were getting agitated. Everyone on their way to work was now late, myself included.
I felt worse for the woman in the wheelchair though. At least I was able to make a futile attempt to stay warm by walking up and down the footpath. She had no such opportunity.
At 9.30 I saw what I thought was a mirage. The hazy image of an approaching vehicle. It possessed a supernatural glow. It was my bus. It moved in slow motion. The theme song from ‘Chariots of Fire’ roared in my ears as I boarded.
At 10.30am, two and a half hours after leaving my house, I have reached my destination. The canteen is shut as it is past breakfast hours. The biting, tingling sensation in my face is receding as I begin to defrost.
What a morning. Never mind. Things can only get better.
I am having a root canal treatment this evening.