Yesterday I was waiting for the streetcar at a busy intersection, on
my way to work. It was cold and rainy, and the streets and sidewalks
Some background: Austria is about 99.9% Roman Catholic, and you see a
fair number of nuns and priests scurrying about, in Vienna anyway. And,
most important for purposes of this little tale, jay-walking, which
every New Yorker seems to think is a God-given right, is simply NOT DONE
over here. There used to be a 40 schilling fine for doing it, and it
was enforced. (As my mother will happily tell you, not that SHE would
ever break such a law.)
So what should happen yesterday, but a nun in full habit totally
ignored the Do Not Walk sign at the busy intersection, and just strolled
blithely across the street. Causing a driver to have to slam on his
brakes to avoid hitting her. Causing the car behind to slam into him.
Chain reaction accident, much squealing of brakes, and cars sliding this
way and that. The nun just carried right on as if nothing had happened.
A very animated man walking near her started shouting that she had just
caused an accident, but she appeared to be ignoring him as well.
Since I had witnessed this scene, I thought I must get her attention
myself. Alas, my German does not extend to addressing nuns. Should I
shout out, Meine Dame! or Meine Schwester! or just Hey, you, the NUN! At
which point I could imagine several dozen passersby stopping dead in
Fortunately, in my moment of indecision, the driver of the first car
dashed across the street and grabbed said nun, so she was forced to
return and discuss the matter with the 2 drivers. Then, a most
mysterious thing happened: the driver of the second car motioned her
into the backseat, and off they went! I don’t know if they were going to
the police, or kidnapping her!