Watch gets up early and finishes the IKEA thing in the cellar to surprise his wife, and it works, she is surprised.
You have a long lunch break on Fridays, don’t you? says his wife, and asks him to go to the Konzerthaus to get tickets she had ordered.
He drinks espresso, makes scrambled eggs, goes to work.
Watch reads an aphorism online, posted by a man who seems to have concluded that his function in life is to share wisdom. Much of the wisdom is good, so Watch keeps reading it.
This one says, The secret to unhappiness is taking life personally.
At lunch Watch walks fast to catch a streetcar, partly to get to the Konzerthaus as fast as he can, partly because a work colleague is walking the same direction, a little ahead of him, and hurrying to avoid walking with Watch for some reason. By walking the same speed, Watch prevents him from escaping; soon, though, he runs out of sadism and lets the man get away.
Watch changes streetcars twice on the way to the Konzerthaus. When he boards the second streetcar, which is half full, a woman cackles a nuthouse laugh.
Okay, thinks Watch.
Then an angry man walks past, two meters tall, wearing a leather cowboy hat. Watch is careful not to look at him, because the man is paranoid schizophrenic.
You learn to see this sort of thing.
The man is complaining about whatever.
The nuthouse laugh woman laughs again. She can’t help it. Paranoid man demands to know who is laughing, and threatens to bash their brains in whoever it is. The woman stops laughing for a couple minutes.
Soon, though, she can’t hold it back and laughs again. The man rushes back to where she sits, which is where Watch happens to be standing, and says, Who is it? Who is laughing?
The streetcar stops and Watch gets out. He walks to the next station and gets on the third streetcar, which takes him close to the Konzerthaus.
Everyone else conducting transactions at the Konzerthaus seem to be retired and in their seventies, a condition they all deal with using a variety of strategies. The man is important and loud and dominant. He spends €600 on tickets. Then he wants CDs and his act sort of falls apart here because he is not sure which CDs he wants. The cashier waits patiently, which doesn’t make him feel any better.
The woman after the man is irritable and short and impatient. She completes her transaction and then interrupts the following transaction to demand a receipt which, the cashier points out, she already has.
The other woman, in front of Watch, is nice. She tells Watch her transaction will take a long time. Watch says he is only picking up preordered, prepaid tickets, and she offers to let him go ahead. Watch expresses gratitude.
A couple sits at a table and talks about something. Meanwhile a second window opens and Watch gets the tickets and leaves.
He gets on a streetcar at an atypical stop, with an oddly shaped shelter, as if it had been designed in the 1960s to look futuristic. The streetcar putters along until they get to Karlsplatz/Oper. It stops at a light, abruptly, and the bell rings (which the drivers normally use to warn people and cars etc). It rings for a long time, then stops. The streetcar does nothing after that.
Watch looks up toward the driver’s cabin, which is in the next car, but sees nothing. No commotion, nothing that would mean accident or murder.
The doors are all closed and turned off so no one can get out.
Other streetcars start piling up behind this one. A driver forces a door open, and tells someone the driver of Watch’s streetcar had disappeared. Then he leaves and the door closes again, retrapping everyone.
Eventually, after 15 minutes, a female passenger forces a door open and everyone disembarks and uses alternative modes of transportation. Watch takes a subway. He buys food in a station. It takes him a long time to decide what to get, because everything being sold at the station has given him food poisoning at one time or another in the past.
He catches another streetcar back to work. It takes about 5 minutes to walk from the stop to his office, during which time he eats crispy chicken and rice and vegetables.
He gets back right on time.