Metro Gollum

Gollum92 degrees.


I am on one of those trams whose windows open at a 20 degree slant, thus allowing almost no air in on a hellacious day. I am standing in the back, my body declining from human shape to natural vacation destination. I have become a series of jungles, swamps, waterfalls, and pools.

Most people getting on the tram are subject to my silent damnation. What you smiling for? This guy looks clean as a sheet. Nice hair. Prick. It’s the ones who don’t appear miserable that I loathe the most. The ones who like this weather. If a fellow sweatball climbs the tram steps in misery, I search his face and rate his misery against mine.

Mine is the barometer by which misery is measured. I am at a 7.5/10. There is room for more. Most people are around 6/10. One guy gets a 9/10. His physique makes me look like a trapeze artist. Also, he’s crying.

Just as my thoughts become a little too homicidal, my stop comes. I leave the tram, saunter to the metro station and cool slightly since I am out of the heat conducting metal stick. I get into the station, past the bums, the junkies, and the cops.

And then, as I walk down the steps to the platform, a wind smacks me in my sweaty teeth. I raise my arms like a TV martyr. And there is one minute of happiness.

Prague is not the hottest place on Earth. It’s not the hottest place I have ever been. It’s not even the hottest place I’ve ever lived. It’s doesn’t have the mind-boggling humidity of Philadelphia and it’s not as consistently hot as a bad summer in Pittsburgh. However, in the states you can escape the heat by going to a place with air conditioning. Almost every restaurant, pub, and shop has it.

In Prague, not so much. Virtually no restaurants and certainly no pubs offer air conditioning. Once in a while you will see a sign on a tram or on a café window that reads klimatizace (air conditioning). During past hot spells I have stuck my head inside to get a moment’s relief, only to stun the shop owners with my outburst of guffaws and tears at what they considered “conditioned air.” It doesn’t come close to the bone chilling, arctic blasts that great an overheated schmuck in the old U.S of A.

For this reason, in the brutal heat I have to take solace in the early morning before the heat starts or a five-minute walk through the metro platforms, which are essentially wind tunnels.

I enjoy the tunnel for 1:45 before the metro comes (stupid efficiency). My six-minute metro commute is accomplished without air. I reserve my homicidal thoughts on this transit for the StB scientists who obviously designed these airless, stuffy metro cars and the slanted windows on my tram. Psychological torture at its best.

At my stop I storm from the metro car subduing my sweat with a handkerchief. I stand in the wind tunnels for a full minute, not moving. Then I turn in a circle, let the hard breeze chill the sweat to my body. Reprieve. Coolness. I start walking towards the stairs with all the speed of a raging arctic glacier. The breeze is shooting around me. I stop, put my briefcase on a bench, root through it and take out my book.

I sit.

Might as well enjoy the cool for a few more minutes, right?

I open my book.

I read.

Metros fly by behind me and in front of me, a rush of cool air fluttering my pants and hair and shirt tails each time. I care zero. I read. I smile. Homicidal thoughts bleeding away. When a metro lets out in front of me, I stop reading to look at the girls and their weather appropriate outfits or lack of. I read. I lounge. I stretch. I change position.

I don’t know how long I have been reading, but I gather it’s time to go. I scoop the book and pick up my bag, head up the steps. One final swoosh of air catches me and I feel regret at the top step. I look at my watch. I’ve got time. I go back down.

I sit.

I read.

Before a little while I am squinting. I put on my glasses and hunch a little closer to the book. I stop looking at the girls. Start giggling or sighing over the events in the book. Occasionally I look around for someone to tell the funny or the sad parts to. Nobody is there. I am happy.The precious wind comes and cools me down. It is so damn precious. After a while I don’t need my glasses, I put them away. Look around the metro tunnel. I could live here.

Hunger finally compels me out of my tunnel. There are no fishing ponds down here and the Relay is closed. I stumble up the steps like a penitent child, reach the escalator and enjoy the breeze going up. The last breeze until I can make it to my fan.

The sun is bright. I squint. I weep. I need my precious wind. My precious tunnel. I go back down. A ticket lady gives me a sideways look.

I reach my bench.

I sit.

I read.

If she comes down, we can play a riddle game.

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