Retep Molinari: Thanks a lot!
CTMandR: Thanks a lot to you too! Keep both with your CJ's!
k50dude: Thank you too, man!
Plaça de McCormick (McCormick Square), 10:25 a.m.
Waiting again on McCormick's, one of my default places along with Commerce Plaza, the airport and Daniel J. Alarcón Plaza. In fact, because of the nearby Starbucks Coffee, this is one of my favourite waiting places. It was a cold and sunny morning and the newspaper was full of interesting news. Yes, I felt optimistic.
I saw how a tall man in his sunglasses, carrying a briefcase went off McCormick Building, "a place for the wealthy". This residential skyscraper is the perfect place to live for financial advisors, executive directors and their families. The man looked at the taxi row and I looked at him. I was the first of the row, so I was the chosen one. He opened the door and went into the taxicab, without asking.
"Good morning, sir."
"Good morning..." he said, taking off his sunglasses.
"Where do we go?"
"Alarconia City Town Hall, please."
"I guess the new one..."
"Yes, the horrible one." he said smiling. I understood him.
The new Alarconia City Town Hall, built in 1968; was voted year after year as the worst building in the nation, as you'll see later. Most of the people I know, simply hate it and appreciate much more the older one; which hosts nowadays the Ministry of Social Affaires.
I started the engine and took Carrer del Tramvia (Tramway Street), following the AlarcoTram tracks. Months ago, traffic in this part of the city was a hell for drivers but, since the tram opening, the zone was much more pacified. We were passing besides the Alarconia Stock Exchange when the man said:
"Don't you think it's horrible?"
"The town hall?"
"Depends on who you ask. Some find brutalist style as "nice"." I said, not very convinced.
"Do you think?"
"Well, I've got time to watch at the buildings in this country and then I try to read about them on the Internet." I said, while stopping the car in frot of the Carrer del Vallès (Valley Street) stoplights. We were just in front of AlarconiaTechCorp Building and I remembered Kate. I would call her when I arrive home.
"I guess I should have to read more about brutalism..." said the man.
"Then I guess you're not an architect..."
We kept along Tramway Street, going through the Commerce District, commonly known as CBD.
"No, I'm not. I work as a City Sports Councillor."
"It must be a nice job... I mean, encouraging sports from the base, this kind of things."
"It's not so nice, usually the large teams are always pushing to talk with them, they want favours, not very nice... But then I think in school sports leagues and keep working."
"I remember when I competed in school leagues..."
"What did you do?"
"Track-and-field; specially cross-country."
"Did you were good at it?"
"No, I was always the last of the row, but I had fun..."
"That's the important thing..."
We arrived to Plaça de Grace Kelly (Grace Kelly Plaza) and Tramway Street became Carrer D (D Street). This was the original name the Founders gave to the fourth horizontal street that runs across the Old Quarter.
We were arriving to El Mur (The Wall) and I was able to see the Alarconia City General Hospital, standing in the same place it was built lots of years ago.
"What did you practice?"
"Wow, you were one of the pioneers..." I was surprised.
"I know, I know... when I began, there were only a couple of teams here. Nowadays, we have a powerful league. You can't compare it to NFL, but I'm sure our national team would beat without problems all the European ones in a world championship..."
"The popularity of American football has risen dramatically since the 70s..."
"It is nice how it has adapted to Alarconia. I mean, it seemed that any sport would replace football, it has been played here for more than a century but well, it was first practiced by the American-native and then... by everybody!"
We were travelling now through the gridded Old Quarter, the place where you can see the heritage the Founders left here. It is generally a nice place to live, but some complain about it is far from the CBD and the geographical center of the city. Unfortunately, very few buildings had been preserved.
"Do you like football?"
"I used to have a scarf and a flag showing over the taxi shelf, behind of you. The scarf was for football team F.C. Alarconia and the flag, as there are no scarfes for American football teams; for Alarconia Almogavars. But then, the taxi company told me to remove them, because we aren't allowed to show this kind of things..."
"So you like football."
"I'm not an addict, I watch Almogavars' games and I follow the league, but I'm not a fanatic. More or less like football, basketball or handball..."
"What about baseball?" he asked.
"I'm sorry but I can't stand it."
"In my opinion, too boring for me. And the Alarconia City team has never been the best, this doesn't help though..."
[EDIT: sorry for the trees in the park, they are supposed to be leafless because we're on Winter.]
We had to climb a hill, if we were going to the other side of the hill we would have taken the Town Hall Tunnel, which runs below the building. We could see the brutalist building in front of us, so my customer began looking for his wallet and counting money.
Then, when the car managed to climb the steep road, I entered in Plaça de l'Ajuntament (Town Hall Plaza) and stopped where I could, stopping the taximeter too.
"There will be 29.15 AL$, please".
"Here you are 30, please keep the change."
"Thank you! Have a nice day!" I said, checking he hadn't left his briefcase on the seat. I've seen lots of briefcases forgotten in that backseat.
"Same to you. Bye!"
I felt how the cold breeze entered into the car and then, I turned on the heating.