His greeting was answered with barely recognisable answers. Voices raw, lips unable to form the letters and words properly anymore, the group hanging around in the park had brought damage to themselves by consuming copious amounts of alcohol and drugs, and living rough. He was a relative newcomer to the group, his voice and lips still able to produce a proper ‘hello’.
The group brought much needed connections, how strange that may sound for people who live on the streets. But think about it: living rough means you have the need to find a place to sleep every day. One that’s dry, and from where you’re not chased by angry owners. Which leads to the theme of safety. Connections, or at least belonging to a group, means some sort of protection. In any city around the world, the ones living rough lead tribal lives.
“Now that I’m in town, anyway..” she said. And she meant it. She was in town, so it shouldn’t be too much too ask for her to get her mother that shirt which was on sale. Just so as it never was too much too ask. Not when it was up to her. She loved helping people out, especially her mother. So, now that she was in town, she would take that tram, then a bus, and then walk for about half an hour to get to the store where this shirt her mother needed was on sale. Of course she would. She always did. As said, she loved helping people. Whenever they called her, she would answer, and say things like “now that I’m in town, anyway…”. It was on the other side of the phone, where the evil happened. Because the people around her, especially her mother, knew how much she loved to help. In stead of going to get a shirt on sale themselves, they’d wait until they knew she was in town. Or going in that general direction. Then they’d call her, and mention it to her. Not simply ask her. Just mention that they had seen something they’d like to have from a store in town. And she would fall for it, and go out of her way to get it. Just like today. The shirt her mother had seen in one of those door-to-door magazines last week was probably sold out. But she had an appointment at the clinic today, for her chronic back pain. The clinic was in town, or more precise, within the city limits, on the outskirts. But, well, it was in the city, wasn’t it.
The tram was running a bit late, so she almost missed the bus. It was already at the stop, and she was a couple of meters away. She started running, waving a bit. She did not want to wait 20 minutes. Her back hurted, more than it usually did. In the clinic they had run some tests. They were actually surprised that there was no-one with her, to bring her home. Her back hunted so much, she couldn’t really turn her head.
As she was running for the bus, she never saw the truck coming up behind her. She crossed the street. The truck driver didn’t have a chance. It was too late to brake.
Nobody’s perfect. You can hear people say it, often to excuse another person, or themselves, for doing something ‘wrong’. And it seems so true: nobody can do everything. Or be everything. But, that’s inherent to being human. So, I would argue that the fact that we humans can’t do everything, is exactly what makes us perfect. All of us.
In 7 weeks, voting will start for the European Parliament. This directly elected EU institution plays a big role in the daily life of Europeans. But how much do we really know about Europe? And what does it really mean to us. I’ve asked a couple of people to share their thoughts on it, which is resulting in a nice – and still growing – collection of portraits of Europeans. I hope that through these portraits, together we can share an idea of what Europe means to us, what it can mean to you, and eventually give you a basis to exercise your democratic rights and vote in the European Parliament elections in May. Today, I’m kicking off this project with a selfie.
Unexpected green along the river Ruhr
A 40-something European, Arjan currently resides in Germany. He has also lived in Latvia, France, and of course his Native The Netherlands. He’s a consultant helping businesses make sense of new methods and technologies, and use those to get better results. He has recently published his first book of poems.
What does the EU mean to you?
For me, the EU means opportunity, but also a sensible way of addressing issues we’re facing. Traveling, living and working where you prefer is one example. Criminality, environment protection and consumer protection are other areas that need more than nation-bound institution to take care of them. And then there is peace. I think the main thing that the EU means to me, is that it brought peace to Europe.