I’ve just thrown some spare euros into the receptacle at the mouth of the dock and am waiting impatiently, cleaning off the bottom of my shoe (gum) against a concrete slab that’s holding the ticket dispenser to the earth. But now I’m wondering if it’s even stuck, if I’m even grounded, or the city, for that matter—if we’re all just hovering on top of some idea, some clever thought by refugees. A floating city.
Venice is hot on the Canal Grande, a tiring hot, a boiling tar slick—even the ticket peels out of the dispenser in a slow, calculated way; I can almost hear the machine wheezing. Boats are passing on the canal as my attempt at nonchalance is growing thinner and thinner in the heat. Their dull motors shoot up a light spray of mist that evaporates before it reaches me from my perch, now at the edge of the dock, inside the roofed waterbus stop. The ticket is in my hand, held loosely, as if to show unimportance. I hadn’t once been checked on the vaporetto for any sort of papers, but there are signs posted everywhere in a translatable, warning-sign red: being caught without a ticket would result in a €47 fine. Probably best to play it safe. You didn’t want to be that guy—the guy who can’t even understand the bigliettaio and his syrupy-slow Italian. Just be silent, look straight ahead, and be happy you can pass for a real Italian with your golden skin tone. That’s all it takes.