Incident on a bus

So I'm sitting on the bus and these two ditchdiggers get in and set themselves down next to me. I know they are ditchdiggers or roadworkers because they're carrying their peculiar spades and their gravel pans. Their life is truly brutal, nasty and short. (see footnote) But no matter -- the journey commences. After some time, the guy on my far left counts out some money and passes it to the guy next to me. Naturally I hold out my hand as though he should pass the money onto me. A fleeting sign of puzzlement and alarm registers on his face which is instantly supplanted by one of those smiles I love so much when he realizes I'm pulling his leg: wide, expansive and, as one wag put it, gingival; meaning it's so broad you can see his gums. We all have a good laugh.

So what's point, you ask? I don't know if there is one, except the incident sticks in my head as a tiny insight into what one could call national character, although I suspect is more topical to the South than the North. I know I must sound like some 19th century anthropologist, but these people have a really well-developed sense of fun and play one doesn't see in the West. _Nothing_ is ever taken too seriously, or if it is, it's with the realization that life is short and then you die, so why not have a few laughs along the way?.

* -- I'd also mention that the roadworkers have some of the most beautifully developed bodies I've ever seen. Not a gram of fat and tight, sinewy muscles sculpted on compact, lithe frames. I guess that's what 12 or 14 hours of toil and lack of calories will do to a body....


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