(III) Metro

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My car's broken. It's too early to find a cab, thus walking to the subway station is my only resort. It's been a decade since my last metro experience. The building looks so different, and the chaos... Oh, lord! Hordes line at the tickets' window, while tens cluster on stairs and in corridors. Teens, adults, vendors, beggars, men and women. Whoa! Did everybody's cars break today?

I stand at the bottom of the queue, or what actually looks like a human pool, waiting for my turn. It took much less effort to buy a ticket ten years ago. Ugh! Did everyone forget to wear a deodorant?! Someone steps on my foot, I glare at him wincing, but all he says is: "step away, don't you have eyes?!"


Somehow I find myself at the front, momentum I guess.

"One ticket, please!" I pant, handing the clerk a 20-pound bill.

"Coins only!" he snaps, throwing it back, "hurry, mister!"

It won't give you rabies, you know! I search frantically in my pockets, and can barely pay before someone pushes me out of the queue.

I sit on a bench, waiting. A chorus of shouts and chatter echoes. An old woman sits nearby, I contemplate the wrinkles on her hands, the patterns could make a wonderful painting. Two men stand behind her, each one holding a cigarette which fills the air with dirty greyness. Where's the no-smoking sign? On the other side, three girls lean against a wall, I can't see why they're laughing.

"Tissues, sir?" A pale little boy in a dirty shirt spins around me, a bunch of tissue packets in his hands.

"Go away," my usual answer. Beggars!

Why is the damn metro late?!

When it finally arrives, a hubbub erupts. The carts won't accommodate that number of course, which calls for the rush to occupy the nearest vacant seat. I imagine swarms of ants attacking a cube of sugar. I bolt to the nearest door, and once again, momentum pushes me inside. I seize a seat just before the metro starts to move. It's fascinating how all these people line in the aisle. There's no place for a foothold, however, no one complains.

I spot the old woman. It looks like she's almost fainting, I give her my seat.

"God bless you!" she pats my shoulder. I smile.

Oddly enough, the chaos begins to feel familiar. Someone steps on my foot again, then apologises. I give up, it's not the first, and won't be the last time today. The metro stops at the final station, the picture of ants re-emerges while people disembark.

"Tissues, sir?" once again, the boy spins around me.

"Here!" I sigh, handing him a five-pound.

"May you find your soul-mate!" he cheers, jumping happily.

It's a crazy day!

I almost forget where I'm headed. My head is still abuzz with noise and passenger conversations when I check my phone. I find one unread message:

"The meeting has been cancelled."

I laugh.

"Looks like I'll need a new metro ticket!"

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