The long years of the untouched aspidistra, and the parking station.


In the newly acquired town-house court yard stand amongst the clivias (Amaryllidaceae) an aspidistra that is almost as old as I am and that is pretty old. The astonishing thing is not so much its age but more of , how and why ? It is our most neglected plant. I can’t remember watering it and apart from the occasional shower it doesn’t get moisture or nurture from anyone. A bird might fly over it occasionally. Perhaps a careless rosella  aims its droppings at this loveless plant as a sign of their care at least, which nature often astounds us with. I remember Helvi telling me that we took the plant from the farm in Holland and that dates back almost beyond my memory. We smuggled it in the crates of our furniture that included all our household goods with chairs, our home-made slatted bed, egg-cups, pillows, a large Dutch armoire and lots more. So, it is about at least forty five years old considering we left the farm in Holland around 1976.

And now it is outside near the clivias and still very much alive. At the previous place (of the garden slasher) it had a position in the downstairs bathroom and I suppose benefited from the shower droplets or steamy humidity. We sometimes mentioned it when conversation was about the indoor plants which throughout our many years together gave us so much pleasure. I read up about the aspidistra and we should have been more curious about this plant. Its flowers are so short and low that they just never seem to appear and another insightful information states it propagates with the help of slugs that crawl over those stumpy flowers and help to pollinate the plant. Another name for this plant is Cast Iron Plant. Its the plant that gets put in a dark place behind aunty Agnes’ untuned wood framed piano, and gets totally forgotten till aunty gets buried, the house sold, and removalists find this profusely growing aspidistra made of Cast Iron.

As for the parking station. When I visited my sick daughter at StGeorge brand new public hospital, I with the nonchalance and nous of a Mika Häkkinen drove into their large multi story parking station. Little did I know of the drama looming ahead. I have no experience of city living anymore. In any case, this multi story car park seem to attract hoons that race up and down the very curvy car park just to train for the Monte Carlo or the Dutch Assen race, to stay more local. But, forget about the screeching tires and the nose ringed hoons. At the entrance you are given a ticket that you present on the way out. This ticket has a time and date. After you pull the ticket out of the machine only then the boom gate allows you to enter by lifting it up and out of the way. Th ticket has to held onto for dear life. Don’t ever loose it!

When my visit was over, I made my way to the parking station and noticed with some relief that the race drivers had gone. I slowly retrieved my car from level C and made my way down numerous levels to the exit following the yellow painted arrows. I had the parking ticket grimly between my teeth and felt super-confident. I’ll proof a city slicker yet! At the ground floor I drove carefully towards the boom gate and next to a machine that after inserting my credit card and paying the fee would surely lift up and allow me to exit the parking station. But, as I inserted the ticket and thought I paid my charge the notice on the electronic screen kept saying. ‘charge not processed, try again’. I tried and tried and kept looking at the boom gate that stayed rock solid down in position. It then asked me by a mechanical voice to insert my card the other way around. That failed, by then I was getting into a state. I did not want a rage to well up. Just be an old man, I kept telling me. Pretend to be an aspidistra.  Nothing worked, I tapped and inserted and no help. Finally a voice told me to go to the office but ‘don’t leave the car’. Pay cash. But how? I then lost it and shouted to the machine. ‘I am an old man, and I want to pay, but for f”8£k sake let me out. I have a heart condition. ‘ The ‘office’ could sense a man holding onto the mast before the ship sunk, and soon a man appeared opened the machine and then told me ‘you did not put a ticket in’. I told him I did. He said ‘where is the ticket’, and held up a handful of tickets. My ticket was $10.40 but I wasn’t going to help him sort through tickets.

I said, ‘do you think I am lying?’ I am eighty years old and would I skimp on paying my dues?  He said, no and repeated, where is your ticket? I remained quiet and just looked ahead. He lifted the boom gate and I drove off.

It wasn’t a good moment but I am over it now.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

13 Responses to “The long years of the untouched aspidistra, and the parking station.”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    There, there. It happens to the best of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. janesmudgeegarden Says:

    Luckily there wasn’t a collection of angry drivers queued up behind you honking their horns!
    Gracie Fields sang a song about aspidistras called The Biggest Aspidistra in the World’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      No jane, it was my good fortune there were two boom gates. I must listen to this song.
      Some people that went through actually tried helping me, but they too could not work it out. My card worked fine elsewhere.


  3. catterel Says:

    Can’t help thinking of Gracie Fields!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Julia Lund Says:

    I’m glad you got out of the car park … Didn’t Gracie Fields have a song, The Biggest Aspidistra in the World …? I remember as a child wondering what an Aspidistra was!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Master of Something Yet Says:

    Our last carpark personned by a person who would collect your money in exchange for your ticket at the exit recently succumbed to the ‘ticket machine’. I miss that friendly face in the booth….

    Aspidistras always remind me of a some odd Victorian melodrama play I did as a teenager that had some issue with “the aspidistra”. I think perhaps the villain was hiding behind it or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I visited my daughter again two days later but of course avoided the parking station. I still had the same credit card. I drove around and around and finally found a spot of four vacant parking lots near the hospital, two spots for midwifes, one for a chaplain, one for a bereavement counsellor.

      I took one parking lot for the midwife and had my story ready in case of an altercation. Fortunately there was no problem, I was so relieved.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sandie Harvey Says:

    Oh Gerard. How much do I relate to your parking story.
    Will send you a picture of something that I belong to if that makes any sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    So glad you got out! Stuff like that is so frustrating.
    But, best to shake it off as quickly as possible. It’s not worth ruining the day. 🙂
    Yes, I must remember…be like the aspidistra. 🙂
    How is your daughter doing today?
    Continued best wishes for her and her healing.
    (((HUGS))) 🙂


  8. shoreacres Says:

    I’ve never heard the word aspidistra, but given your description, I thought, “Well. That sounds just like that plant my mother had for years.” She called hers a ‘cast-iron plant’ because no matter what she did or didn’t do to the thing, it kept on growing at the end of our fireplace. When I went to look up “cast-iron plant,” sure enough; it’s an aspidistra. In a way, I wish Mom still were alive so I could tell her, but on the other hand, I suspect she’d say, “That’s nice, dear..” and go right on calling it her cast-iron plant.

    You would love paying at a local toll booth located on a bridge between Galveston Island and the peninsula on the other side, in Brazoria County. The toll is $2, cash only, and the same toll taker has been there for years. A little drawer slides out, and you put your money in a plastic box that has a large rock in it. A sign in the window says, “PUT THE ROCK ON TOP OF BILLS SO THEY DON’T BLOW AWAY!!!”. Easy-Peasy, as long as you have some cash. Personally, I keep a little bag of quarters in the car, and just toss those in, so I don’t need to mess with the rock.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: