At a German Tram Station
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 6:35:37 PM
Travelling to other countries is a must. Once in a while it is most useful to make a journey to a foreign land, a foreign culture and get new impressions. I like to travel, I like to see what others see, to go where others go, fancy what their wishes, hopes and dreams are. Often I think about where I could travel next, which exotic country…Mostly I end up ‘travelling’ with the subway, also known as tram, to my workplace.
The trams in my home city are rather old. The colour is grey with a touch of eggshell. But the trams are clean, of course they are clean, we are in Germany! German people don’t throw their litter around very often. And everywhere you will find trash bins. But you have to make sure you put the litter in the right trash bin. There is one, marked green or yellow, for plastic trash, one is marked blue, for paper and one is marked red for everything else. For glass however you need to find a brown marked bin. Quite often you will also see service personal clean the trash away, or wet mop the floor.
If you one day happen to be in a German tram station please: notice how clean it is and make a comment about it. Try to speak English and speak with a loud voice. Say: “Hey, German tram stations are really clean!”. Then you have to look around real quick and observe the people. Many will have listened to what you said and they will then proudly smile a bit, but just a bit, because if they would smile a lot or even make a comment, then of course you would know that they have listened, and they wouldn’t do something so impolite. You have to know, in German tram stations anonymity is the major rule.
Try to be anonymous and ignore others as good as possible. (Of course you can observe them closely, just don’t let them see you do that).
When you have decided to observe the people, things will start to be fun. At the main station where I get in, you can see many different people. Many students and pupils. I always find it interesting to look at them. Some are emo kids. You can easily recognize them: painfully thin, black dyed hair with random splurges of bright coloured highlights, and the obligatory shaggy cut in the front that lets the front hair cover one or both eyes, which forces the emo kid to occasionally move their head and sweep the hair out of their sight. They also always have an mp3-player with a headset wrapped around them and you can hear the loud music from three meters away. They wear black trousers, and a black shirt, mostly with a slogan on it, something like “Die slow!” or “Kill the World” or ”Pain”. But when you take a close look at them, you can easily see that they are not half as unhappy as they pretend.
The other people dressed in black are metal fans. But the slogans on their t-shirts usually read “I eat Meat” or “Death Metal Concert Tour 2007” sometimes the t-shirt also displays a rotten scull with blood dripping from the mouth or so.
Those people are the more convenient tram users, because they are usually quite silent, very unlike the Tussies, which can also be easily recognized. The Tussies are usually well dressed, according to their own opinion, and totally adorable, according to their own opinion, and everyone likes to be like them, according to their own opinion. Their high heels are mandatory, but only if the pumps are in a very bright colour that will of course fit to the handbag they carry. Those ladies always have a very bouffant hairdo. This is not achieved by the massive overuse of hairspray but through the terrible misuse of tight trousers. The trousers are extra slim, and so tightly wrapped around their bean stick legs, you can almost feel how the arteries get squeezed and the blood is hindered from flowing through the legs so instead it is pumping into the head making the hair stand up. That is at least my humble theory.
The most disturbing people are the alcoholics or the drug addicts. They drink beer, smell for beer, ask you for beer, or even look into the trash bins for beer (they never find any, since they are the only ones drinking beer in the stations), and all of that before 10 am.
I try to ignore them, I put my in-ear headset on and turn the music louder. Often that doesn’t help. Even through bass and drum and Eric Clapton asking for Cocaine I can still hear their meaningless chatter they have with their hallucinatory friends. They do not just talk to their friends, I surely wouldn’t have a problem with that, but mostly they argue with their hallucinations. They yell at them and call them names. I really wonder why they don’t invent better friends.
The majority of people however are quite normal. Like you and me. They wear blue jeans or blouses. Sneakers, boots or sandals, depending on the season. They have bags or rucksacks, newspaper, a coffee ‘to go’ or they eat a croissant or a bretzel. Yet, if you pay a little attention you can see a lot and learn a lot about their most likely characters. Someone wearing a black suit and a tie is most likely someone who works in a bank, or who applies for a job. Someone wearing a t-shirt, blue jeans, a brown leather bag and sneakers with white socks, is most likely an American exchange student. Someone who wears a t-shirt, blue jeans, a brown leather bag and sandals with white socks is most likely a German social pedagogy student with too many semesters.
Today I saw a girl standing and waiting for the tram that was overdue. She had waist long black hair, she was wearing cargo trousers in army-colour meaning a pattern of greens. She had it combined with cowboy boots and a black tank top (with spaghetti straps) that, quite practically, ended a few centimetres above the trousers. Additionally the trousers sat rather deep. So everyone could see she was wearing blue lace underwear that she deliberately let ‘blink’ out of her trousers. Unfortunately the label was showing out and completely ruined the sexy effect. It read “Size M, Wash 30°C”. Thanks! Something I always wanted to know about other people’s knickerbockers. For a second I thought about telling her about the fauxpas, but then I decided not to. What would you have done?
Feel free to answer or write your 'tram station' experiences.