The One with the Thoughts of Frans

A Clove of Day

The Middle-Eastern man opposite him was characterized by a distinct garlic smell. Why did people make such a fuss about the smell of garlic by making funny faces, especially when there were disgusting smokers stinking up the air, with what seemed like years’ worth of cigarette fumes stuck in their clothes? Yet it would be strange to assume smokers washed their clothes any less than other people. The tram was driven by a madman — no, a madwoman. Better yet, by someone trying desperately to keep the tram on schedule. The big truck trying to turn in a tight corner didn’t help, but the driver was determined to make it to the next stop on time. She wasn’t going to make these poor people miss their connection. Earlier that week she’d been reprimanded because her GPS-based performance review was below average. You need to drive faster. I’ll try, she said. Choo, choo!

He was just about the only white person in the tram. Was it racist to notice? Of course it’s not, not unless you think the other people don’t belong. Fuck, I’m an immigrant myself. Not that he was what the haters thought of when they used a word like immigrant — they didn’t think of Caucasians who spoke their native language. Spoke it better than they did.

As the crowds mysteriously dissipated inside the central station, he sat down to study a bit before the train arrived. A couple of pages till he had to move would be nice, but just about everyone seemed to have a cold. Sniffing, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, blowing noses — the other travelers were trying their best to produce an orchestrated cacophony. Their timing was impeccably unrhythmic. A whiff of garlic sauce interrupted.

Oh yes, it was lunch time.


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