the best job in the world
It was 15 years ago, one spring morning, in my home town of Brno, Czech Republic at the train station. Brno, like many other socialist train stations, has a huge main ticket area where you can purchase domestic train tickets, from a surly but efficient staff of ticket clerks.
But if you want to leave the country, well that is another matter. Down the hall, thru a door marked only in Czech and Russian is a ticket locket which sells international train tickets. They do not speak English here (tho they do speak reasonable German), none of of the station staff do. But this is familiar turf to me, my friends have shown me around and i can breeze thru and get a ticket in my bad German and be on my way.
This particular morning i was heading off to Vienna and as i went thru the main ticket office a curious small man all dressed in black with a yamaka looking like he was going to miss his train. In my rough but helpful way, i tell him to follow me, but barely give him time to keep up. We get to the covert intl ticket locket and i order a ticket to Vienna for him, dodging one of the reservation fairs they often slapped on unsuspecting travelers for my new friend.
My lover Anissa and i were going to Vienna that morning as well, so we naturally sat together.
My new friend was effusive in his praise and appreciation. He rightly believed that had we not rescued him he would have missed his train. And after a few moments of this he advanced the conversation by saying “What do you do?”
To understand my arrogant response, you need to understand where i was at during this period. We had just blocked the largest European development bank from funding new reactors in Slovakia. Comrades of ours just stopped the Belene reactor in Bulgaria. And other anti-nuclear activists in France had succeeded in killing the breeder program. I was also the Chair of the Chernobyl + 10 campaign and we had organized a brilliant international action against Temelin the previous summer. I was very pleased with myself and the movement and was not afaid to say so.
So i replied to my new friends questions about my work by saying “I have he best job in the world.” To which he shot back. ”That is not possible, because i have the best job in the world.”
Ripe with curiousity, i forgot my blustering pride and asked “And what do you do?”
“Well, i travel from place to place telling people stories. And because today is Sunday and you most certainly saved my transport, i will tell you a story for free.” And he began a long and complex and engaging story which ran the entire 2 hour of train ride and ended promptly as the train arrived at Sud bahnhof in Vienna. And when the ride was over i decided that he was right, i was wrong and i needed to work on my story telling.