Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Automated homeless.

Weirdness. At Leidseplein, just the other day. I walk home from work, which usually means that my perceptual abilities are slightly diminished anyways. Pupils have difficulty adjusting from dark cellar kitchen to light bright sunny outside, so most of the distance is covered squinting.

I arrive at the aforementioned Leidseplein, and dodge some bum pushing a shoppingcart. Not giving him a second's thought, I walk on, until something catches my eye. He has a wooden leg, or otherwise a strangely stiff one. No second thought, but he does get a second glance, and there's something odd about this guy.

All hairyness, the back clotted together in organic dreads, a torn nondescript army coat, plastic bags hung all around the cart. Something odd. What is it?

Not the way he looks.

The way he moves. Not one, but two wooden legs. How does he walk? More people have noticed him by now. The cart had got stuck in the tramrails for a moment, but he managed. Crossing the square straight through the middle. And then I see it, as the first one it seems, and I follow, get close to get a better look. Yes: this isn't a man.

A small mechanism, hidden behind the plastic bags, in the cart, moves the legs. It's a dummy, a crude robot. Really well done. Really really well. I walk closer, circle the automaton, and then _he looks at me_.

Remote controlled. Wow. I look around to see who controls it, but I can't find anyone. By now, more people have discovered the secret, and point, and laugh. The puppet looks around him, at everyone.

I love these things. Random, unexpected. Hopefully, this will happen more often.

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