Regions, cities and towns: Zagreb #004
On the tramvaj in Zagreb
A study in human behaviour. Winners and losers.
I guess it is important that those of us learning Croatian should also learn about Croatians.
The people of Zagreb are highly cultured, and very civil. Except perhaps in one instance ….
Ja sam na Trgu bana Jelačića. Čekam tramvaj. Ah, evo ga! Dvanaestica (Number 12)
I'm tired after a whole day walking around Zagreb, so I hope that I can get a seat.
Lucky me .... the trams stops so that I am right in front of one of the doors. Even luckier: the tram is quite empty.
Aha, vidim neka slobodna mjesta. I ja sam na čelu gužve. I am at the front of the crowd (waiting to get on).
Image by Djordje Nikolic from Pixabay
Gdje da sjednem? Where will I sit?
I am feeling a little guilty because other people were waiting before I arrived.
I shouldn't have (felt guilty), because when the tram stopped, I was shoved aside like a delicate leaf. A charge for the empty seats showed no mercy for those without a killer instinct.
Nema slobodnih mjesta! There are no empty seats left!
When I had regained my composure, I could clearly see two sets of passengers:
Among those sitting are seven-year olds, feeding their faces on chocolate or ice cream, and blissfully ignorant of the old ladies (and me) who are standing as the tram wobbles along. Their mothers (some of whom are also standing) seem determined to protect their children’s right to occupy a seat. The little darlings. Oh dear, one of them has started to cry because he has finished his packet of bonbonova, and needs some more.
Also sitting are teenagers and twenty-somethings. Those in groups talk to each other, laughing nervously, all the while pretending to be oblivious to the 90-year-old lady standing alongside them.
And then there are the young(ish) people on their own, who look at the floor, or pretend to be using their phones. This is a tactic of not making eye contact with that gruff-looking old man who is hovering over them with a scornful look on his face.
The dark-faced standers exude gamma-rays from their eyes at the less-deserving who are sitting down.
The young(er) people sitting down do not register that the gamma-rays are causing their skin to peel. The gamma rays are unsuccessful in making the sitters feel uncomfortable enough to offer their seats to the old folk standing alongside them.
The tram approaches a stop, and a few people start to gather up their belongings.
The thoughts of those standing focus in sync: Mislim da će ove osobe sići. I think that these people be getting off.
They manoeuvre for position. It seems that two seats will be vacated, but at least five people have their eyes focussed on those two seats, thinking through their strategy to out-manoeuvre the others.
When the two people get up to leave, what happens next is not pretty!
How is it that the seemingly frail 85-year-old lady - who was not even one of the five bystanders - managed to grab a seat with the fierceness of a lioness caring for its cubs?
Not only did she command a seat for herself, but she put her Konzum shopping bags on the other seat, thus denying access to anybody else in the overfull tram! Eto na!
The five losers (ovih pet gubitnika) are astonished at their defeat. Ajme meni! They know that some force of nature has just expressed itself, but they do not understand it.
I think that when zagrepčani get up in the morning and set their goals for the day, for many, it is to be successful in getting a seat on the tram.
What is my evidence for this uncomplimentary thought? Well, it is confirmed each time that I get off the tram.
Believe it or not, I am still inside this tram, trying to make my way out against the stampede of the seat-seekers.
Each for their own! Wives leave their husbands behind, and vice versa. All conversation ceases. Those getting on develop sore necks as their heads turn quickly this way and that, searching, searching ....... In Australia, we call this "rubber necking".
I am jammed between the irresistible force of those trying to get on, and the immovable objects comprising those on board trying to get off. There is little graciousness here.
So far as I can tell, when people get off the tram, they immediately relax and become happy, civil, and cultured burgers again.
For purposes of the story, I admit that I have exaggerated. A little.
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