Today I nearly got myself arrested.
I took the tram to and from the city center, to visit some Saxony fortifications, the Moritz Bastien. These, the last of the old medieval walls that once surrounded Leipzig, date from the sixteenth century. It was, however, the first thing in Leipzig that I found disappointing. Over the centuries, brick walls were built onto the small remaining portion of medieval stone. The vaults below are now a student club, to which I have no access. Above ground, the site is covered with a cafe, a now-deserted outdoors bar, and a lot of graffiti. I had a latte in a coffee bar and caught the tram for home, which is where I got in trouble.
Sebastian had explained to me how to buy tram tickets and then to have each side punched, one side per trip, by the machine aboard the tram. However, each time I've ridden the tram, I never saw anyone sticking a ticket into a machine. Okay, I thought, they punch the tickets at the end of the ride, as in D.C. But nobody seemed to punch a ticket as they got off the tram, either. Nobody punched anything. So I decided that the tram must be free at rush hour, the way buses are in D.C. on air-pollution days, or the downtown bus in Buffalo always is, and so I've just been getting on and off without punching anything.
Then yesterday a stern person came around demanding tickets. He did not speak English. I do not speak German. Frantically I produced an unpunched ticket from my purse. More exchanges unintelligible to both of us, accompanied by arm waving. Other people on the tram were interested but non-committal. Finally he took my ticket, punched it himself, and delivered what certainly sounded like a very emphatic warning, possibly with penalties attached. I smiled and tried to look even stupider than I already felt.
When I got off, I bought a whole bunch of tram tickets. At home was an email from Sebastian: It is possible to buy a month-long pass to show ticket inspectors, which is why no one was punching. I don't want a month-long pass, having convinced myself that walking nearly everywhere is good for me. But I certainly will punch my tram tickets. Now and forever, amen.