I woke up really early and got paid to talk about Canada. I wasn’t shortchanging anyone – it was what the student wanted. So I did my duty.
I sat down on one of the notoriously hard plastic seats in the number 22 tram, prepared to ride it nearly end-to-end. My stomach was rumbling from not enough food and too much instant coffee, but my ears were satiated with my Tuesday morning tradition of the previous day’s WTF episode. Today was Norm MacDonald.
The tram was nearly empty. I reminded myself that before I got off it would gradually fill up, overcrowd, and flush out almost completely. The circle of life as told by Prague transit in the early afternoon.
I stared out the window, prepared to begin my journey, and heard the familiar buzzes and bells that signaled the crimson commuter carrier would begin hauling ass at any moment. I felt the warm whish of recirculated air on my ankles as we began to move.
Skip ahead to a time later on. I’m going through a metal detector on my way to a private lesson that pays well. I hand my passport over to the cop at the front desk and take the elevator up to the top floors of the giant glass skyscraper, ask the receptionist for a coffee, black, and open the glass doors into the director’s office. I’ll spend the next hour holding a conversation, explaining new words, and getting paid (off the books) almost double than what I would for any class I hold the rest of the week.
I’m sitting in the tram looking out the window. We twist and turn and pass a graffiti-tagged wall and zoom along the Vltava. The same sequence of sounds echoes throughout the ride. I notice my reflection on the glass and stare into it for a couple of moments. How much longer can I sustain myself like this? What the hell else will I do with myself? And exactly how much lunchtime scotch is too much lunchtime scotch when you’ve got a class to teach later that day? I dwell upon it for a minute, but a blurry black and red haze comes screaming past my window and breaks up my thoughts.
Most of the time I tune out on these rides and sometimes it feels like I’m wasting valuable time. Time that could be better spent reading or writing or studying Czech or something. After all, I spend a good chunk of my day in transit. The problem is, these rides are so interruption-heavy that it’s almost futile to do so. The starting-and-stopping makes it impossible immerse yourself in a book, and the all too frequent routine of giving up your seat for someone much older makes it tough to take out a pen and pad comfortably. One just ends up juggling a bag, a pen, and a notepad like an uncoordinated asshole. It’s just easier to tune out and look out the window.
So nothing happens. And that’s the point.