I make myself a cup of tea, usually Earl Grey or peppermint in the evenings, but wild berry in the afternoon, like today.
I shove my bright green ear buds into my ears, dimming the sounds of the train announcer and milling crowd with One Republic or Coldplay as I walk across the rails and wait patiently on platform 18. The old, greasy smell of the bright blue bratwurst truck that caters to those in a hurry and scurrying for something warm to eat assails my nostrils, making my stomach churn with a mix of nausea and hunger.
When the tram arrives I board, quickly grabbing a forward facing seat that isn’t filled with sunflower seed shells, and I slump into one of the narrow, gray and yellow upholstered seats, lifting my tired feet while I surreptitiously sip my tea. I stare out the window, watching the different people at the stops, noting the changes in demographics as we follow the tracks through different areas of the city.
At my stop I step down and decide to hold on to my tea cup, as the garbage can is overflowing with the offal of the neighborhood. The one lone can can’t really keep up with the amount of low-income immigrants who can’t or won’t buy the bright yellow IVAGO grabage bags that residents have to use in order to have their trash picked up every week.
I cross the highway, and then the bridge, crossing the street to avoid the shady Algerian bar that is full of greasy-haired younger men who seem to do nothing but smoke cigarettes, drink Jupiler and strut all day and night. At the corner I finally find a garbage can that I can jam my tea cup into before I take the shortcut through the small renovated park behind our house. The daily group of shoeless children is playing in the back alley while their parents smoke and play cards in the picnic area of the park. None of them responds when one of the smaller children starts crying.
I simply turn the volume up on my iPod.
Once through the park I emerge into our street, barely avoiding a smeared pile of dog droppings that no one bothered to pick up from the sidewalk. One of the neighborhood independent taxi drivers pulls up and parks. I peek inside his window and see the customary can of Red Bull, a taxi driver’s best friend, from what I can tell with my glimpses in to the taxis that line our street.
I wonder, vaguely, how many cans of Red Bull a taxi driver drinks on average per day as I pull my keychain from my pocket and fiddle with our front door lock.
There are days when I truly enjoy the extra exercise and fresh air that comes with walking from the tram stop or biking to and from work.
But days like today I really miss my car.