The One Time in My Entire Life
By now you've all probably lost all interest in the public furniture story, for which I don't blame you, but here it is anyway. In my next post we'll go see how the Japanese are handling this, and then take a u-turn back home for a surprising look at Trimet's latest take on it.
In my thirties I spent a year and a half in Eastern Europe, a year of it in a small remote town in Czechoslovakia. Though I was able to frequently visit Prague by way of a swift and direct three hour train ride, carting my car-less self around to the many fascinating small towns could be achieved only by snail rail. You could put in six hours and a couple of transfers getting to a town a third the distance to Prague. That, and the fact that my job teaching at a high school left me exhausted on the weekends and preferring to stay home and slouch, somewhat limited my travel to the more rural areas. Knowing I'd be grateful in retrospect, my forays out to the Czech and Slovak countrysides were accomplished only by holding a gun to my own head and forcing myself out of my apartment and down to the local train station.
On one of these trips, after having travelled already for about six hours on a train that had embarked in the dead of night to reach a destination that would've taken a couple of hours in a car, I slumped in an almost empty train car. I became overcome by the urge for a change in position and thought to rest my feet on the vacant seats opposite me -- like the average American slob on Trimet would do. I'd never seen it done in Eastern Europe, or Western Europe for that matter, and I knew it was a bad idea. But my fatigue won out.
After about 15 minutes of weighing the pros and cons, I looked carefully at the bottom of each shoe, and finding no trace of dampness, mud, or chewing gum on them, I gave in and ventured a daring dip into squalid behavior. I lifted my dogs onto the seat across from me, gingerly placing them just so, ever so careful to rest all their weight on my achilles and not let even the back edge of the soles touch the leather uphostery, just in case they might soil it.
It felt soooo good. My whole corpse sighed audibly in deep relief.
No sooner had I settled into this deliciouls infraction than the door at the back of the car wacked open and a large uniformed woman patrolling the train strode up the aisle, stopped abruptly beside me and barked, in Czech that was well within my third grader comprehension level, "FEET! OFF SEAT!" while stabbing a pointed finger first at my feet and then on the floor. My whole body jolted back into an upright position, my feet leaping off the seat like two fish off a hot skillet, and on she went, with a stomping gait that defied even the thought of veering from standard behavior.
I got to be bad for exactly nine seconds. Thanks Mom. I'm cursed for life.
Next: What Would Japan Do?