Flann O'Brien novel or heist film? - 1370°C
Nov. 8th, 2004
07:25 am - Flann O'Brien novel or heist film?
a few weeks ago, i was waiting for the Luas and witnessed the following scene, which made me wonder whether i had been magically transported into a Flann O'Brien novel or a heist film.
at the places that it is considered "safe" to cross the Luas tracks, there are signs that read "Feach gach treo" (look each way), like this one. on the day in question, i am sitting on a bench, headphones on and staring vaguely out into space. two workmen in blue overalls and reflective yellow vests walk up to this sign; one of them begins polishing it with a cloth. as if it isn't strange enough that he is cleaning a street sign at all, both men occasionally stand back to admire the handiwork, decide that the sign isn't quite clean enough, and the first rubs it with the cloth awhile longer. when finally they seem as if they might be finished, one of the men checks to be sure the bolts that hold the sign to the wall are tight enough. he uses his fingers for this purpose, which seems ineffective at best. then, of course, he's left fingerprints on the sign, so the cleaning begins afresh. then, i'm not making this up, the cloth-wielding man moves to one side of the sign and tilts his head so as to look at the sign from an oblique angle--the way that you would with a piece of glass that needed to be absolutely spotless--to be sure that the sign was really and truly free of all detritus, prints, smudges, or marks. upon examination in this fashion, he decides that the cleaning job is still unsatisfactory, consults with his workmate, and continues to clean.
this process of cleaning, adjusting and examining goes on for 7 minutes while i watch (i know this because the helpful LED Luas signs tell you how long until the next train comes) and they are still cleaning it when the Luas, with me in it, finally takes off for St. Stephen's Green.
after pondering this sight in absolute wonder (i so wish i had been carrying the digital camera), i was left wondering if i had entered a world not unlike the one described in O'Brien's The Third Policeman or if what i'd just seen was an indication that there was a fantastic heist taking place or about to take place and all of this sign-polishing was a diversion of some variety.
what do you think?
(and no fair ruining my grand illusions by saying that these workmen were simply lazy and wasting time to avoid other tasks--that clearly falls into the category of Flann O'Brien novel).