Dec 272020

Jeg hadde ventet 30 min. foran en enslig opptatt hurtiglader langt fra sjapper, kiosker og toaletter. Det snødde vått og kaldt, jeg var tissetrengt og det var ingenting å gjemme seg bak på den store sletta omgitt av småhus. Da jeg endelig slapp til laderen, var jeg så trengt og så kald at jeg ladet bare noen få minutter før jeg dro videre til neste ladested. Der var det, foruten spisested og bensinstasjon, 20 tesla-ladere, 3 hurtigladere for oss andre – alle opptatt og med 4 biler i kø – og 1 ladestolpe. Den var ledig. Jeg koplet bilen til stolpen og trasket av sted til spisestedet for å gå på do og varme meg.

Men spisestedet var stengt. Heldigvis var det også en Macdonalds et stykke unna, og der fikk jeg lettet det mest presserende av mine behov.

Da jeg kom tilbake til bilen 20 minutter senere, hadde den ikke tatt lading. Jeg prøvde en 10­–15 ganger å koble fra og koble til, men nei, bilen ville ikke ta lading. Så kom det en ung mann med lyseblå øyne og tilbød seg til å hjelpe. “Jobber du her?” spurte jeg overrasket. “Nei, jeg skal bare hjelpe.” Jeg frøs litt og var for oppgitt til å vurdere om det var grunn til å mistenke onde hensikter; dog ikke så oppgitt at jeg ikke registrerte et snev av utlendighet i språket hans. Kanskje polsk, tenkte jeg.

Han prøvde 10­–15 ganger å koble til og å koble fra kabelen på bilen min, og fikk samme resultat som jeg. Det snødde fortsatt, og jeg var igjen begynt å bli tissetrengt og aldri så lite realt bekymret. Jeg hadde helt klart ikke nok strøm til å komme meg hjem. Mannen prøvde da å sette i gang ladeprosessen (på MIN bil) fra SIN telefon. Da tok bilen lading. Vi hadde altså fått bekreftet at det ikke var noe galt hverken med stolpen eller bilen min.

Han avbrøt ladingen – som han ellers ville måtte betale – og prøvde igjen med min ladebrikke. Niks. Så startet han uten videre nok en gang ladingen fra sin telefon, ba meg ringe seg når jeg hadde nok strøm, lovet å sende meg beskjed om hva det kostet slik at jeg kunne Vipse ham beløpet, og forsvant. Forvirret satte jeg meg inn i min kalde bil, som nå pent og pyntelig la på seg kilometer etter kilometer, og ventet til jeg hadde fått nok strøm.

Da ringte jeg ham slik at han kunne avbryte ladingen, og minnet ham om å sende SMS om hva jeg skyldte ham. Etter en stund kom det melding fra ham: “Det var så lite… se på det som en liten julegave. Hilsen Krystian”.

Takk Krystian!

Dec 012020

In a phone conversation with a talkative friend the other day, my counterpart’s initial volubility subsided, so that in the end, I was the only one still talking. Afterwards, wondering why his cheeriness had morphed into discouragement, I reached the conclusion that it was my fault.

Over the decades, I have been considered a lefty, and he has been the slightly patronising advocate of what he believes is “the middle ground”. Had I asked him, or for that matter almost anybody else, what is “the middle ground”, he would have given the glib reply “neither right nor left” and I might insolently have retorted, “neither right nor wrong?”

Yes, over the decades, he has patiently countered my impatient allegations about systemic racism, perpetuated social inequality, injustice etc., etc. with kindly smiles, and “sensible” arguments. More often than not, I for my part tended to have forgotten the statistical details informing my views and chaffed at the bit of my own ignorance, unable to prove my point.

The other day, though, the tables had turned. I didn’t remember the details about the tipping point, but I did have a pretty clear understanding of the concept “exponential”.

Likewise, I didn’t remember the details of Piketty’s statistics about rising wealth and income inequality, but since I follow international news pretty closely, the word “exponential” lurked at the corners of my mouth.

As another acquaintance predicted a few days ago: “Before long, we won’t be picking them up out of the Mediterranean, we’ll be shooting them.” He was referring to the not so distant future when most of the African continent will be uninhabitable and when Europe … no, I won’t go into that just now.

I won’t, because that was what I did during the said phone conversation with my friend the other day. I did not have Piketty’s figures at hand, but I certainly was able to outline approximately where Europe is heading, and it’s not somewhere nice. That is unless…. But before I could finish my lecture, my friend had wilted like a plane falling out of the sky. I had halted the trajectory of an optimistic man full of confidence in himself, his country and the future of humankind. I had brought him down. Now that was certainly not my intention.

Mind you, he knew that what I had said about the future of Europe, “unless…”, was correct. So why was he not willing to discuss the terms of the “unless” clause?

As for the tipping point, no reasonably sane, informed person can possibly doubt its reality, yet we just sit around doing exactly what we have been doing since we were born, with regard to the tipping point, that is: NOTHING.

Well, strictly speaking, that is not correct. Somebody is doing something, but that somebody is not me. It probably isn’t you either. I am very very sorry to say that it is not a government in any country, nor any powerful multinational company or mainstream media outlet. Extinction Rebellion is courageous, passionate and truly called for, but – alas – not my style; I’m no better than the rest of us law-abiding, spineless citizens, the gutless “we” I keep referring to.

We have been tranquillised and rendered non-combatant by a lullaby of promises about “climate neutrality by 2050”. Read that again: 2050. Thirty years hence, the planet will be unrecognisable.

Why? Why do we allow doctors to medicate us with tranquillisers and false hopes?

My theory is that we are sincerely frightened. And now that we are social distancing or in quarantine, we’re also not happy. If your day has been miserable, what do you do? Well, I don’t know about you, but most of us put on a brave face and tell ourselves and each other that tomorrow will be better. Yes, tomorrow must always be better, otherwise, we would not endure being alive. If baseless optimism hadn’t been part of our genetic makeup from the start, our species would not have survived locust swarms, bubonic plagues, famines, Hiroshima, the Holocaust, Apartheid, etc., and even Trump.

I put to you that optimism is not a crime. Stupidity, however, is. I assume that mankind will survive the next thirty years, in some form or another. I hope that having learnt from the mistakes we are making now, future civilisations’ penal codes will deem stupidity on the part of “whomsoever has been endowed with normal intelligence and adequate social/economic conditions” a criminal offence.

Today is 1 December. According to the calendar, winter has come to the Northern hemisphere. But according to the trees, spring has come and the buds are opening. Maybe by Christmas the lilacs will bloom and the birds will be singing. Maybe in January, we can go swimming in the sea again. That would be so nice.