The limits of authority

I was sitting outside Carrefour. Nothing of note going on. My book is still entertaining. The shade of the building is pleasant. The bustle of the street provides an interesting counterpoint to the slower pace of my literature of choice when I choose to look up.

There is a man sweeping the flagstones. Nothing uncommon. Dirty blue shirt. Red cap. Flip flops and brown trousers a little too short. He holds a broom in one hand and one of those shovels on a stick in the other.

He is just about done when a very little girl arrives on the scene and stops a few feet in front of him. Checked dress, hands clasped in front of her. What could she be holding? Sweeper cleans up the last of the rubbish on the flagstones and stops to look at her. She opens her hands and throws them up in the air. Confetti rains down on the newly-swept. Her face? Triumph. A mischievous smile. His face? Indescribable.

A few minutes later I grab my bike and cycle off back towards the hotel. The street is a busy one, and there is a fence in the middle in lieu of a meridian strip, making it impossible to cross except at a crossing (no silly idea, it seems to me). So I ride the wrong way in the other bike lane down to the crossing. The bike lane is not busy. Everyone sees me and happily avoids me. They are used to weirder things.

There is a man at the crossing. He has a whistle. Clearly it is his job to organise traffic. He spots a stupid foreigner riding the wrong way in the bike lane. Unacceptable. He blows his whistle. I look at him. He blows some more and waves to me to get off my bike and get on to the footpath. I look at him. He blows and waves. I keep looking at him and say “it’s okay, I am almost there”. Blowing, waving. Thirty seconds later I ride past him and on to the crossing. I say “hello”. He replaces blowing and waving with an incredulous stare.

Am I so influenced by a little girl?

Advertisements