Not offending enough



I've been a lockdown offender, today. Twice.
First I was having lunch with N. on the tiny terrace of a bagel shop on one of the deserted canals. This was supposed to be illegal because N. was sitting on the terrace while having lunch; not on a chair provided by the shop, but on her own device, a luxury rollator. The proprietor of the shop was serving us on the steps leading to her shop. Hospitality means something else, these days, if it means anything at all. Police was driving by at high speed, but they weren't coming for us. 'Apparently,' N. said, 'we're not offending enough.'
Not much later I was violating the 1,5 meter social distancing rules by helping a man who had fallen from his bike. His front wheel got stuck in the tramrail – a typically Dutch accident.
Two bystanders – I happened to be one of them – rushed to him. The bicycleman was a middle aged man with a slightly distraught face. I saw how he had hit his head into a wall. Not hard, but still. He was now combing his hair with his fingers. Are you okay? I asked. He responded, awkwardly: 'In meinem Hosen ist ein Loch.' The (Ger)man was right, there was a hole in his trousers. My eye fell on his tummy: a half melon-shaped protrusion. When the other bystander had put the bike back in its upright position, I picked up the German's belongings from the ground and gave them back to him. I was very conscious of the touch of his hands.
When he didn't thank me, nor the other bystander, in English, Dutch or German, I hastily walked away and thought something that I've rarely thought before: 'Gib mir mein Fahrrad zurück.'

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