teisipäev, juuli 12, 2011

in the belly of the whale

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.

7 kommentaari:

LPR ütles ...

Yeah, this is a situation where youd just sing:

"I'd like to be
under the sea
In an octopus' garden
in the shade ..."

Not that the zombies around you would understand any of it. And that is the best thing. YOU, are still alive.

Kristjan ütles ...

What is the point of your post, Giustino? I can feel it but I don't understand the reason of it.

Giustino ütles ...

There are a lot of drunks in Estonia, Kristjan. Today's encounter was particularly vivid. I think the ocean/whale metaphor is symbolic of this life. We are all sort of drowning in the problems of humanity, of which the drunk is but one colorful manifestation.

I'd like to write these sketchbook posts from now on. I'll create for you a mosaic of Estonia. Not everything has to have a point though.

Rainer ütles ...

You have kind of brought it on yourself, Giustino. By downsizing from Tallinn to Tartu to Viljandi. The smaller the place, the bigger the percentage of drunks. At this rate you'll be living in Obinitsa or Värska soon, where there are NOTHING BUT drunks.

Lingüista ütles ...

Losing the feeling for humans? Feeling like we're doomed?

Who knows, maybe that drunk had a sad story behind him that would make you see him under a different light. That would make your heart ache at the injustices committed against him.

If the world is a valley of tears, there have to be eyes to shed them.

suicidaalnemees ütles ...

Don't we all have sad storys with us? Some make good blues out of them, some are trying to drown them in beer or vodka. Seems that most problematic thing is village-drunkards outlook for life, their I can't help myself mentality. Its kills them slowly and poisons others days.

Mardus ütles ...


More than anything, it's the smell, and that this drunk (I can't say person) gulped the halfie down in front of everyone else.

@et al.
The taaraautomaat is meant to do good to people, and then we lose the innocense of it by sometimes having to see this, the picture that Giustino drew.

In a bigger city, there are several malls and shops; cheap shops have taaraautomaats in a building separate to theirs, because these shops are frequented by a clientele that buys alcohol. Expensive shops keep the machines inside, but still very near the exit. If there's like one taaraautomaat per one small town, then it's just sad.

Maybe there's a certain time of day when these people go to such places. I wouldn't know which.