The Jaywalker

A trailer parked on the side of the street. A bunch of people were busy with setting up cameras and lighting and actors I don’t know their names for a film shooting session. It caught my attention in the beginning as I was walking down the street. But not for long.

Outside the shooting area, there was a man in a hat and a trench coat walking comfortably until he reached in front of the zebra cross. He paused, noticing that the pedestrian signal was in red. Although it only took four (big) steps away to the other side of the street. A law-abiding citizen he was.

Until he changed his mind seconds later.

His stretched his leg to step on the first white line of the zebra cross when the red signal had not changed yet into green. Oh well, I probably would do the same if I were he.

Nope. He's the crew member of the film shooting, not the jaywalker
Nope. He’s the crew member of the film shooting, not the jaywalker

However, he didn’t succeed making his second step as a police officer suddenly asked him to step back from where he stood. The man looked surprised. So did I. The officer was like Superman – without the signature outfit and muscular body – appearing in time out of the blue.

The law enforcement member unintentionally blocked half of my sight of his face. Moreover, since he turned his back from me to face his law-breaker, I couldn’t see his face at all. I was too far to hear their conversation and to read the French lip-sync. However, I would like to satisfy my curiosity about what would happen next, so I stayed a little longer to observe both gentlemen.

The conversation started when the officer pointed his finger to the red signal. The law-breaker shrugged his shoulders with his palms opened facing upwards. He raised his eyebrows, his lips moved fast, trying to explain why he did what he did without being defensive. He ended his words by faintly shaking his head.

The officer took his turn to reply. The former law-abiding citizen fixed his eye gaze to him and nodded attentively. The conversation kept flowing and it felt like watching a non-subtitled silent movie in Technicolor. I had no idea what they were talking about, yet I could sense the less tension between two men after a while. Furthermore, he didn’t take anything out from his pocket, like a piece of paper or pen.

I was neither cursing the man to get sentenced nor questioning the officer’s authority. I was just expecting a climax, like truTV fighting scenes, or at least, an intense argument. Thus I didn’t stand and tremble in coldness in vain.

The conversation I couldn’t hear started to bore me. I was about to leave the scene.

Oh, wait. The red (pedestrian signal) suddenly turned green. The man was aware of that. He quickly looked at it and his body faintly moved forward to make his first move before it turned red once again. But he kept himself on a short leash. A moment later, he raised his right foot with the heel still on the ground. Yet he put it back with no further action.

Nonetheless, the police officer was still carried away with his storytelling. I wasn’t sure whether he was lecturing about the danger of jaywalking or telling about his new-born granddaughter. Regardless, the trench-coated man was reluctant to interrupt no matter what.

Later on, the officer noticed a glimpse of restrained impatient gesture from the man’s side and finally realized that signal was green. I saw his upper arm slightly swung back and forth from behind. Just a lucky guess, if viewed from the front side, probably he was actually raising his index finger and waving it a couple of times towards the law-breaker, to remind him not to do the same mistake ever again.

The man nodded, giving a sign of full understanding. The officer had no longer reason to hold him from crossing the street. He expanded his left arm, giving the man a permission to do what he had wanted to do in the first place. He didn’t ticket the man at all and simply let him go.

After that, both of them walked separately from their accidental meeting point. I left the scene for catching my dinner.

Despite not knowing each other, we shared something in common. None of us considered the shooting session as a point of interest on that day.



Shit Happens in Leuven!

After a long drive from Augsburg, we finally arrived in Leuven at midnight. Since I was the only one living in Amsterdam among other passengers, I stayed overnight in my friend’s apartment and continued my journey the day after.

cycling event Leuven

Nature called. Fortunately, I was already in the clean and cozy apartment she had been moving in since two weeks ago, with very bright lightning that rarely found in European houses. I asked her permission to go first before she took a shower, since I couldn’t hold it any longer.

It was meant to be a quick ritual, but my stomach made that cranky and grumpy sound before I knew it. I had no choice but to  do number two. Though it was a relief to let it all go, the hall of shame was unexpectedly about to start. The flush didn’t work properly. The water pressure was so weak that it could only clear urinated water after the third attempt. And the thingy was still intact and floating.

Sint Pieterskerk

There was no bucket or big container in the bathroom, living room and kitchen I could fill up with lots of water to alter the broken flush. I started to sweat – first time ever in the middle of chilly winter. Feeling guilty and ashamed at the same time, I’d rather clean up the mess myself than ask for help. Coincidentally, she fell asleep in her room – with the door opened.

It would spread more unpleasant odor and contaminate the water unless I got rid of it. All of the sudden, the (imaginary) bulb over my head turned on. Eureka! Plastic bags found in my suitcase were all I needed!

The only way to liberate me from the disaster was to take over the flush’s job. I went back to the bathroom, squatting in front of the toilet seat, face to face with the floating thingy – undigested food waste coming out from my body – in the bowl. A plastic bag covered my right hand as a hand glove.

image credit:
appetizing unless associated with the incident

I gently took that chocolate cake roll lookalike (less disgusting way to describe the thingy, I hope) with my covered hand out from the water, put it in double-layered plastic bags, made a very tight knot and threw it in the bin. As a final check, I flushed it once more to make sure there was no traces left. Phew!

Next morning, we woke up at 10.30 am and still feeling tired from the trip.

“…..I love it here, but things are still screwed up…….Look, my stuffs scatter everywhere!” She took a deep breath before continuing the next sentence, “I’ve called the plummer to fix the flush but he hasn’t come yet. It’s been a trouble. Oh, by the way, sorry for leaving you earlier yesterday. I fell asleep, just couldn’t help it. What took you so long in the bathroom?”

town hall Leuven

My guilty feeling disappeared as soon as I heard her complaint. However, if she only knew what I did. I mean, should I say this: “I shit in your toilet and couldn’t flush it, so I picked my own shit (OK, it’s time to be blunt) and throw it in your garbage bin.”?? Bringing the shame to the host who gave me a place to stay was the last thing I wanna do.

“Actually, I was done. But I saw you sleeping and I felt bad to wake you up.” By telling a white lie, I managed to cover up one of the most embarrassing moments of my life as well.

Before leaving the apartment, she sorted paper, glass, plastic waste to the right bags before throwing them away in the public bins downstairs. Then, she grabbed the knotted plastic bag whose shape and color I recognized so well. She looked at it for a little while, considering to which group of waste she had to classify.

flower carpet

I tried not to get panic. Don’t even think to untie it. You’ll be sorry.

Unwillingly to think further, the knotted bag was finally belong to any bag she wished. We took an elevator to the ground floor and toss the trashes accordingly in order not to get fined from Belgian government.

After that, we walked out separately to continue our own activities. I went back to Amsterdam peacefully. Nobody got hurt and ashamed – until now.

It took me 7 years to have guts to reveal this awkward story, now it’s merely for sharing a small part of my life in travel. Nonetheless, I still don’t dare to tell this in person.

crowds in the old town

>> PS: Images (except the cake) were taken from my second visit to Leuven, the capital of Vlaams-Brabant, when cycling event and flower carpet took place, not on the same day of the incident.