Today I saw something that disturbed me. It was a drunk. I don't know why it bothered me to see him. There are so many drunks in this country. It's a sizable demographic. They could have their own flag.
I think why this drunk was different from the others was because he was in such close proximity to me. I stood right behind him in line at the automatic bottle deposit, the Taaraautomaat, at the Maxima supermarket in Viljandi.
He had long, skinny, sinewy legs, the color of urine. Dirty clothes from who knows where. A baseball cap and shaggy brown and gray greasy hair suspended just above the shoulders. I watched as he fished through his bag of empties and found one half-full beer. Then he tipped the brown glass bottle back and like some kind of neanderthal man guzzled it down, grunting in between gulps.
The Taaraautomaat works this way: you place the bottle into the opening, and it is spun around until its barcode is read and is taken into the machine. The Taaraautomaat keeps note of your deposit and in the end you are issued a receipt that you can take to the nearest cashier. Drunks live off this system of collecting empty bottles, depositing them at the Taaraautomaat and obtaining enough money to buy more beer. I am unique in this regard. Most of my empty bottles are for Värska mineral water or Kali. Occasionally, there will be a beer bottle in the mix, but not often.
When the drunk finished his last beer and popped it into the machine, he pushed the green kviitung button and was rewarded with a receipt to take to the cashier. He had a satisfied look on his face, a bit of a grin, as if to say, "Ah, that last beer hit the spot." Then he sauntered into the supermarket, in search of his next fix.
I can't figure out why that drunk distressed me so. I've lived in New York City, Washington, DC; I've been harassed by drunks from Vancouver to Bangkok. So why did this one drunk ruin my mood so much? Perhaps a bit of my childlike humanity resurfaced this morning for whatever reason. The part of a person that still feels things. But then, after I saw the drunk, whatever innocence I had in my heart was gone. It wasn't yet noon.
Sometimes I feel as if I am being swallowed by the ocean itself. An immense wave is taking me down with it. Down into the depths of the deep. Down into the aquatic mysteries, among the seaweed and nautiluses. Deep into the belly of the whale.