I’ve always been competitive, although it has become less intense since I’ve learned to listen more to others — something I’ve learned as a development communications trainor back in the mid 90’s — and it has even acquired a certain quietude since living in Holland. Probably because one needs to listen to learn a new language; to hear others’ voices before you can add your own.
However, living in Holland has introduced me to some new forms of competition. Because everything functions on a strict time schedule plus the fact that the crowd can easily swallow me up because I’m inches shorter than the rest, the Hunter-Timi was roused to indignation and took charge.
In her past seven years in Holland, Hunter-Timi has learned to pinpoint the exact location on the platform where she has to stand so that that she’s right in front of the door to the second-class compartment (the first or last one) when the train stops. She has specially honed this particular skill in the cities of Amsterdam and Alkmaar. This essential hunting skill extends to busses and trams as well.
With her trusty backpack that makes it impossible for her to maneuver in crowds without bumping anyone and hearing someone shout ‘Asociaal!’ (‘Asocial’) even if that person never saw her passing through, she camouflages as an overgrown tortoise, feinting slowness, her shy smile showing a subdued demeanor. In people’s mind, she’s not a threat…until it’s too late: Hunter-Timi has inched her way through the crowd and is again right in front of the door to the train or bus or tram, her backpack a shield, her height giving her the power of invisibility. If she hears any rumbles from the crowd, she turns around, still with the sweet smile on her face, and mimicks the disgruntled creature’s voice: ‘Rustig, hoor. Maak je je niet zo druk.’ Stunned to hear its own language coming from one of a different race, the creature is confused and Hunter-Timi takes advantage of this short moment of hesitation and slips off into the waiting vehicle.
Knowing how crucial it is to be able to find a good seat in the train during the morning rush hour, Hunter-Timi perfected a method to ensure her survival (and that of her mate, Martin). Every morning they take the bus to the station (needless to say, Hunter-Timi finds strategic seats in the bus. Read: close to the door). As soon as the bus stops at Akmaar central station, hunter-Timi weaves through the crowd (thanks trusty backpack) and steps out first off the bus. She quikcly scans the area, looking for enemies and other threats. She spots the long-haired dude with the leather jacket — enemy #1 — a few steps in front of her. Casting a quick look to Martin, who knows exactly what ‘the’ look meant, she makes a sprint to the platform, while Martin quickens his stride. Note: one Martin stride = 3 Timi big steps.
Huffing and puffing, Hunter-Timi overtakes enemy #1 and rushes to the stairs. It’s getting harder to breathe, but Hunter-Timi keeps to the left of the escalator, making her way up to the platform. Of course, there are blocks along the way — people without a hunter’s care just standing on the left side when they should stick to the right! But Hunter-Timi gives them gentle shoves (she doesn’t want to make anymore enemies than what’s necessary) until she reaches the platform. Enemy #1 is closing in on her so she gives her all and runs to the 1st compartment (where of course enemy#1 is also going).
Breathing is now fast and shallow, and her leg muscles are stiffening, but Hunter-Timi doesn’t stop. She welcomes the pain — and the opportunity to burn a few calories since hunter-Timi is diabetic. She snaps out of her musings and rushes to the train door. She could feel enemy #1’s breath on her back, argh! She sees the two-person seat at the very end of the compartment and moves to take position. Enemy #1 prepares to overpower her, but then Mate-Martin steps in from the other side of the compartment and secure their seats. Hunter-Timi is relieved and they exchange quick smiles. Another successful hunt.
After reading the papers, Hunter-Timi prepares to go into power-nap mode. She leans against the window and stretches her legs and moves about her seat and stretches her legs again — this is why this was their traget location. It relaxes hunter-Timi and all her worries drift away as she falls asleep. At least for a few minutes until she arrives in the jungle that is Amsterdam.