An angry squall


The bus-stop was just a yellow pole on the side of the pavement – no shelter, no real-time feed on bus arrivals, not even a printed timetable. It was already raining as I walked up to it, but as I reached it, the rain settled into a heavy downpour, with a nice helping of hail mixed in.

I looked around for some semblance of shelter, but there was none, not even an overhanging eave. So I huddled up against the nearest wall and tucked my head down into the collar of my coat. The rain got even heavier and the wind picked up, driving hail right into my face. Only the wrong buses were driving past, looking like heavenly oases of warmth and shelter. I longed for a peak on my hat to ward off some of the horizontal rain.

Then a particularly nasty gust of wind shrieked over the roof of the building I was sheltering beside. Its sudden increase in force made me look up into the pelting rain in awe. The gust swept across the street, and down the front of the buildings opposite.

Just as I was envying the car drivers their blissful ignorance of the impact of the weather conditions outside their tin cans, an unearthly rumbling could be heard from the other side of the street. Four wheelie bins were being propelled into the street in a row from the front yard of one of the buildings; three landfill and one recycling bin. The wind pushed them relentlessly straight towards my stick insect bus-stop, which wouldn’t shelter you from a paper airplane.

But the wind didn’t calculate for the lumbering inelegance of plastic bins. They toppled over as they came off the edge of the pavement onto the road. The recycling and one of the landfill bins thumped down in the far traffic lane, but the other two slid across across the road in a sprawl and kept advancing on my bus-stop. I winced and braced myself to try and dodge them, imagining the embarrassment of having to tell people I was hit by a wheelie bin. But the bins could not keep up their momentum as they scraped over the tarmacadamed street. They ground to a stop a couple of feet away from me.

The traffic in both lanes had managed to hit the brakes in time to avoid colliding with the bins. Fortunately, there had been a gap in the traffic as they had begun their charge across the street, so no vehicle was sideswiped by them either. The street was empty enough for all to witness this freak occurrence. And now the street was frozen and silent, as everyone thought “What the fuck just happened???”

Seeing how nobody else was moving yet, I stepped out into the street to begin picking up the bins, hoping the car drivers would be patient enough to let me back to the pavement before continuing on their way. A young blonde woman appeared by my side as I was bending to the bins, and took one of them for me.

A cyclist swept past between us and the pavement, kindly shouting at us to get out of his way as we tried to clear the lane of traffic, hauling the two wheelie bins behind us. As soon as we got our side of the street clear, the cars in the far lane began to drive into our around the other bins. This annoyed the cars in our side, who began to assert their right to the lane. The traffic flow resumed as normal, not giving us a chance to return the bins to their side of the street, or even get over to pick up the other two that were still lying prone.

A large black Land Rover pulled up in the cleared lane, preventing everyone else from either driving around or speeding past the bins. A tall man with red hair and a bushy beard climbed out into the rain, exclaiming “Get OUT of your car, and PICK them up!” It was the sight of his colourful Bermuda shorts however that made me wonder for his sanity on this cold, showery, wintry day. I took advantage of the stalled traffic to dart out and help him pick up the bins. His look of surprised gratitude was probably similar to the one I had given the young woman that had helped me.

The road was now clear. And the car drivers were so grateful to us for unblocking their lane, they paraded joyfully past on their unimpeded way as we stood on the edge of a pavement.

Eventually the triumphal parade ended and the man got back to his Land Rover and I to my unsheltered bus-stop, to wait another five minutes in the rain until my bus arrived. When I boarded, I shoved my way past the passengers that inevitably block the entrance whether a bus is empty or full, up the stairs, and then through the forest of feet sticking into the passageway from people sitting sideways on seats on the top deck, until I found an empty seat towards the back. I plopped down, peeled off my sodden hat, and thought, “Wow, I gotta write about that…”



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