Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blowing his own trumpet

I was walking home from the university the other night, and the traffic was quite heavy (for Lausanne). The vehicles in the lane heading towards me were moving very slowly. As often happens when I am walking home, particularly if it is dark and cold, as it was that night, I tend to enter a kind of trance state and walk on automatic. Sometimes I will suddenly look around and be surprised at how far I have come (it is about a 4.5 km walk each evening from the uni to my apartment). On this particular occasion what startled me from my trance was the sound of a trumpet. Now this is not something that one expects to hear, walking past tennis courts and corporate buildings. I glanced upwards, expecting, perhaps, to see the seven angels  trumpeting the end of the world. I could see no evidence of them, this evening at least.

It took me only a moment to realise that the sound of the trumpet (a little more jazz-flavoured than we might expect from angels) was coming from a white van that was moving slowly past me in the far lane. It was, indeed, the driver of the unmarked van, blowing his own trumpet as he drove. I suspect he was in violation of several rules of the road, but at that moment it didn’t seem to matter. At least he wasn’t taking that important phone call that just couldn’t possibly wait; or sending that urgent text message to a friend, assuring her that he would text more information about when he could text her at the first opportunity.

Eccentricity is by definition rare in any society, however that society might define its particular centre. However, I think it is fair to say that eccentricity is less common in Swiss society than in many others. It was therefore quite refreshing to have my rather grey reverie disturbed that evening by a little splash of colour from an otherwise plain white van.