My hobby is waiting. I like waiting because only in waiting can you get something done while doing nothing at all.
Fortunately, Paris offers many prime places for waiting, so I’m frequently found in doctors’ office or government bureaus because we connoisseurs know there is some quality waiting to be had in those locales.
Far and away, however, the most satisfying form of waiting is train travel. It’s comfortable, the scenery streams like a conscious dream outside my window and, at the end of my sojourn, I’m rewarded with more than a prescription or official recognition: I arrive at a different destination.
What truly sets train travel apart from any other form of waiting, though, is that I’m offered a wait before I even board the train. I can wait to wait, you might say.
In the Gare du Nord, there’s a terrace overlooking the platforms and, because I arrive at least an hour before my train’s due to depart, I’m afforded the time to sit at a table and savor a coffee. My favorite pastime is to determine which departure is scheduled next and, as the embarkation approaches, watch late arriving passengers lumbered with luggage scurry the least slow they can while their manicured travel-look erodes in their panic.
The bell rings and the light at the end of the quay flashes while last passengers make a mad dash for the doors while I look over them with all the lazy glee of a sated vulture. Sometimes my interest pays, for someone loses the race and they raise their eyes and look around as if expecting the Agent of Missed Trains to step out of an invisible door and magically retrieve the locomotive. Eventually they give up, their shoulders sagging with the burden of the realization they are no longer travelers, just unlucky locals condemned to returning their packed bags home.
All the while, I wait. My girlfriend is an actress you would know if you lived in France, remarkably gorgeous until she outgrows it. She is so much better than me in every unimportant way that she can’t help but leave me eventually. It’s just one more thing to wait for, and waiting is my hobby.