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Journals from Vienna, Austria

2013-11-25 die U-Bahn

A man enters an entryway with a name that was once unfamiliar, but is now commonplace. Down he goes. Sometimes with stairs, sometimes escalators, sometimes elevators, usually to a deeper part of the city. Some places you travel up. Sometimes with stairs, sometimes escalators, sometimes elevators.

The sounds of the city disappear quickly, leaving you with new sounds; the sound of electricity pulsing through the lights, the sound of people on the phone or with friends; sometimes the sound of a person talking by their lonesome – yet they aren’t preparing for a boxing match or a speech or an difficult conversation with a loved one. At least, most of them are not. Some of these people jolt his conscience and remember how big the world is – remember how many people remain alone.

He waits. Sometimes he sees big groups of people, especially on weekends. Usually they speak in a tone that would be reserved for a functioning construction site or a sea captain on a rollicking sea adventure (do rollicking sea adventures still occur?). It’s amazing how loud a group can be – especially with the help of Ottakringer or Eristoff. But often it is accompanied with happiness. Does the happiness come with or without the O and the E? He hopes so.

A foreboding rumble emerges from a dark tunnel. Something silver emerges from the darkness. There is no click-clack-sound, it is more like a BUHHHHHHHHHHHH.

The sound is not pretty. It’s jarring. People all around him snap to attention. Parents tell their kids to stop with the games of tag. People gather their packages, boxes, and bags. Some kiss their loved ones goodbye. Some awaken from a trance, the way that humans often do when bored and waiting.

Luckily for him and everyone around him, the words “Nicht Einsteigen” do not appear on the silver train. He does not have time for that. Most people do not have time for that. The doors open, some straggle out. He walks aboard and leans up against the door on the other side. Others enter the train and sit down next to strangers. A stone face is a key attribute of the people in the seats. It seems like a requirement. The doors close.

“Zug fährt ab.”

The platform disappears quickly. The silver train picks up speed – faster and faster. In the background he hears a “Bing! Schottentor. Umsteigen zu…”

When the silver train slows down, the driver does their best to stop smoothly. It does not matter for him this time as he loses his balance and grasps onto the pole in the middle of the car and nearly crashes into one of the lonesome individuals. He nods an apology to the person and is met with human eyes and an acceptance. The individual proceeds to sip his Gösser. He hopes the individual enjoys that drink.

He proceeds to exit the silver train once the doors open. He walks briskly and up the stairs. Sometimes up the escalators or elevators. He emerges from the exit, and the sounds of the city wash over him. It is a completely different world from a minute before. He smells food and realizes that there is no easier place to satisfy his hunger. There is a specific stand that he goes to every time this hunger occurs at this exit.

The stand always has suitors. Some annoy the man behind the counter – the eyes give him away – but he continues with his work.

He asks for the next order. I tell him I would like a Dürum. To him I was once unfamiliar, but now I am commonplace. He smiles and makes the delicious food.

 

 

Tyler Bradley

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