Questions raised by cable car rage


How did I end up on top of a Swiss mountain, feet planted, pistol-ready hands, blocking the entrance to the cable car in which I am standing?

The man and woman facing me cannot wait.

They must get onto the cable car.

Yet I don’t seem to be letting them.

Does it really matter that the guard has pronounced the car full and locked the turnstile?  Or that The Man and Woman Who Cannot Wait have jostled through a long line of people and let themselves through a closed barrier?

Where did the guard go? Why did he leave the door open?

Is 2970m even that high?

Was James Bond afraid when he dangled from this cable in On Her Majesty’s Service?

Has an aerial cable car ever plunged to oblivion from the summit of the Schilthorn? Are the Swiss renowned for being OKish engineers?

Could the extra weight of two medium-sized people snap the cable?

Does the Swiss woman beside me think it might?

Is she crying: “NO! The car is full! There is a weight limit! It is not safe!”?

If she is afraid should be afraid?

Why are the 100 or so people behind me on the cable car silent?

Does the The Man Who Cannot Wait try to step past me? Do I stand in his way and say “no” in the voice I use on children running with knives?

Is Sabbatical Man somewhere behind me pretending to be Norwegian?

Are my children somewhere in the cable car wishing, again, that I wouldn’t talk to strangers?

Does The Man Who Cannot Wait set his face to rage and try to sidestep me?

Do I hop to the right, block his path and show him the whites of my eyes?

Am I grooving a little bit haka? A little bit James Bond? Has the James Bond exhibition at the Schilthorn summit put drama, risk and high-altitude dangling a little too front of mind?

Are The Man and Woman Who Cannot Wait evil masterminds? Is there a looming act of global terrorism which hinges on these two people escaping onto this cable car?

Where is my gun?

Does the silence of the 100 or so people behind us suggest disapproval?  Of who? Or should that be whom?

Are they wondering which part of Asia The Man and Woman Who Cannot Wait come from? Or how queueing for public transport works in their country? Or in what language they are expressing rage at not being able to get onto a cable car which clearly has room for two more people?

Are they wondering if the Swiss woman and I are racist? Members, perhaps, of the Schilthorn Branch of the New Zealand-Swiss National Front?

Could the Swiss Woman be the shop assistant who wouldn’t give Oprah the handbag? Should I ask? Would that be racist?

What would Oprah do?

Should I stand down?

Does a Helpful Man step forward to translate the plight of The Man and Woman Who Cannot Wait?

Is their plight separation anxiety?

How many days does it take to form an ambivalent emotional attachment to other members of a tour group?

Would that be the same tour group that rushed the cable car’s disabled access in the wake of a man in a wheelchair?

How accurately does the Helpful Man translate the Swiss Woman’s assertion to find the guard to check whether or not it is safe to get on?

Is the guard the best person to decide if the cable car is overloaded?

Or should it be a democratic decision?

Does The Man Who Cannot Wait shove me hard in the chest and step onto the cable car?

Do angry voices rise behind me?

Is someone outside the cable car grabbing at the hoodie of The Woman Who Cannot Wait?

Does The Man Who Cannot Wait bounce lightly off the cable car?

Was it Sabbatical Man who ejected the Man Who Cannot Wait?

Is Sabbatical Man speaking very quietly to The Man Who Cannot Wait ? Is he speaking Norwegian? 

Has Sabbatical Man ever threatened anyone on my behalf in two decades of marriage? Is my heart doing the cha-cha-cha?

Are the kids asking me if it is going to be OK? Is it going to be OK?

Does the guard turn up? Does he shoo away The Man and Woman Who Cannot Wait, close the doors and send the cable car hurtling down the mountain?

Do we spill out at the bottom and head for the hills?

Did I do the right thing?


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