An usual foggy and humid morning. I was running as fast as possible. The clock was saying 8:46am and I was a bit far from the bus 32. I needed to be at the office at 9am sharp, for I had an important meeting. I could hear the engine of the bus rumbling. After every passenger got in the bus, a not-so-young guy with long rasta dropped by and raised the hand to great the driver. I could see the doors closing. I accelerated and I reached the front door, the one close to the driver. I knock on the glass and he opens the door, after a small laughter.
A man that couldn’t be more than 45 years old, black, fatty and with the whitest teeth I have ever seen.
«Just in time!»
In English. I thought that I might look more Italian than any other mornings.
«Thanks to my colleague, actually. He was the last one to leave the vehicle.»
«The rasta guy?»
«Ja, he finished his night shift at 5:30am and he went to some party.» Started laughing, shaking the head as he was resigned. «I really don’t know how he could do so. I just pick him up nearby Joseph van Hasselstraat.» Then he added something in Dutch that I could barely understand.
My mind went to the night before, when I went to sleep at 10pm, like a six years old kid. I also wondered why he wanted to tell me those things, but then I remembered all the time I was speaking to bus drivers back in Italy. Something that wasn’t happening since a long time ago. Felt like when eating a meal that, for some reason, I forgot the taste of.
«We have hard times, bro» I was already part of the family.
«Longer shifts, shorter breaks. I used to have 12 minutes between two rides. Now, I can barely smoke a sigarette.»
«And more rides, but not only. We have to carry as much passengers as possible. Every single of you running against our buses is money to the GVB.»
«I can bet on that.» I said while I was checking in with my OV-Chipkaart, since I forgot about it after the early morning run.
The bus stopped at the traffic lights in front of Geldersekade. While the driver was explaining how difficult is to regulate his sleeping time, a girl crossed the street right in front of the bus. Dark-haired, make-up perfectly distributed on lips and cheeks, brown-eyed, a considerable breast under an adherent white shirt, covered by a red jacket, against the chilly temperatures of the morning, which didn’t allow to hide other things. She looked at the bus the amount of milliseconds necessary to make me and the driver shut up.
Those seconds of silence were interrupted by the green light.
«You see? That is why I love my job!»
«You would see many of those artworks every day…»
«Oh, I can’t even count them. Blonde, dark-haired, black, asian, Dutch, non Dutch. I love my job!»
«Right, I can say the same thing about metro passengers.»
«True, but you at least can talk with them. If you want to ask them the phone number, you can. I can’t. Goedemorgen, goedemiddag, fijne avond. That’s it.»
«Well, it may be dangerous for driving.»
«Yeah, but if you try to flirt with them, you’re fucked up.» He emphasized the flirt word punching on the ticket table under his right hand. «If I start flirting with them, you may find them everywhere in the city. They ask for free rides, put you in an embarrassing situation. And I don’t want to. I got a family, can’t fuck it up. I’ve got children.»
«Two, a girl and a boy, older than the sister.»
«Ah, like me and my sister.»
«I love my job, but I love my wife too.»
«You know how we drivers use to say in this case?»
He knew the Dutch version, so it took a while to find the right words in English. I waited and didn’t suggest a single word. I smelled the pearl coming out of the shell.
«We say: the appetite on the street, the meal at home!»
You can meet thousands of pretty faces on the street, in the metro, on the bus, in the station, at the traffic lights. Blonde, dark-haired, black, asian, Dutch, non Dutch. It doesn’t matter. If you feel belonging to someone, there’s no appetite that can make you forget the meal that is waiting for you at home.
«van Hasseltstraat. That’s my stop.»
«Goed, have a nice day then!»
«Yeah, have a nice day you too!»
«And don’t forget what I told you!»
«No, I won’t.» Then I shaked his hand firmly and so did he.
He opened the front door to let me go out, but while I was dropping by he asked me an expected question.
«Are you in love, bro?»
«Yes, and I will always be.»
«Goed zo, never stop doing it!»
No, dear driver. I won’t.