Tram ride to work, August 24th.

While I'm reading my newspaper I hear somebody mumble. I look up. A really big, muscular man is standing near one of the doors. He's talking to himself, and seems to become more agitated with everything he says.

"Mark Dutroux [a Belgian kidnapper and rapist] is walking free... an eleven years old girl has been assaulted in the park... eleven years old you hear..."

He bangs his hand against the window.

"You just read your newspapers, do you... you just don't care, do you..."

He bangs his hand against the window a few more times and kicks the doors like he intends to break them.

The lady sitting next to me gets out at the next stop. Though the man has not been addressing me directly, he's faced in my general direction and only a couple of feet away. I find myself thinking: "He's going to sit next to me. And if he does, there's nothing I can do. There's no way to get past him and get out. Nobody else is going to do anything."

The doors close and the tram is on its way again. The man begins to chant.

"I've got plans for you. Nothing you can do. I just want you to know..."

I get out at the next stop. In Amsterdam, encountering people with, um, various degrees of mental health is not uncommon but this guy is scaring the hell out of me. I wait for the next tram and travel on to where I work.

I get off the tram and go to buy a croissant on my way to work. A young man who looks like he's homeless approaches me and asks me to buy him a sandwich. I ask what sandwich he would like and buy it for him.

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