Saturday, October 01, 2011

Weird People in the Mann

Wow, this week is one of those weeks where I felt I was meeting all the weirdos and as soon as I spoke up, it just kept going. Where do I even begin. I guess I should start on the strassenbahn where, as I've mentioned before, I meet the most interesting people. This week there was even a dog, a Great Dane to be more specific and he was bigger than me, let's start there.

Grate Dane
There's a middle aged woman of petite stature with a long grey ponytail who owns a black Great Dane. I've seen her once before in the city but was glad that she was not sitting nearby. This time, she got off at the same stop as me in one of those this train ends but he next one is coming in 2 minutes so everyone gets off and stands around for two minutes situations. Side note, does anyone else experience such insane train switching situations on their route or is it just me? Anyway, she gets off with the dog and seemingly continues an argument with this random guy as the dog hangs out on its leash. At the same time, a young girl about 7 comes over and tries to ask if she can pet the dog but the woman is still yelling at this guy and some other seemingly random guy gives the girl permission. Suddenly the little girl's mother realizes her daughter is petting a dog that could easily fit her entire head in its mouth and comes over...and also starts petting the dog. The girl and her mother are oblivious to the argument going on and the mother's other two sons are playing with vampire teeth about 5 ft. away. Then the strassenbahn pulls up, the dog lunges forward and its owner, who I thought was about to get dragged onto the strassenbahn, has him under control in under 30 seconds. Commotion over, all get on and I enter a completely different car.

Indian Over Ask
We have a lot of Indian exchange students come through our department and it always seems the Indians are the most friendly and not afraid to ask personal questions. I experienced this to the extreme at a local Irish pub where our Indian waiter told us his life story on our first visit and remembers us every time we come in (I've been there about 5 times in 3 years). Last time I was there he even told me he saw me at a University event that took place a month or so prior. Considering my experience, I was not surprised to turn around and see a woman of Indian descent behind me in the strassenbahn when I heard all sorts of personal questions being asked in a clear first time meeting. In German, I overheard her asking her friend's age and if she is married which started out normal until the German friend said she was 29, married and had a child. Then the questions got personal, how old were you when you married? Was your child planned? Are you happy you have a child? Then the conversation turned professional and they started talking about a potential job at the company of the 29 year old. It was loud and in a public place, even as an American, I would have been shocked to hear those questions from a new friend.

The Rule Breaker
This was not my encounter but too good not to share. My friend was cycling to work early one morning and crossed a small street while the light was red. This is frequently done by cyclists, especially when you know the route and traffic patterns. A strange woman also on a bicycle followed her across the street on red and began riding on the side of her lecturing on the penalties for crossing on red and pointed out that she herself risked a fine just to enlighten my friend. This was 2 weeks ago, this week my same friend was praised by a woman with child as a model cyclist while she waited at a crossing for the light to turn green and others rode by. FYI: It's generally not acceptable to cross on red if children are present.

The Drunk and The Gypsy
My Monday night training had me riding home across the city around 7:15pm. I entered a strassenbahn car to an overwhelming smell of alcohol and stale cigarettes and instantly regretted my choice of doors but with a full train, I was happy to have 2 seats to myself so I stayed put and held my nose. I scoped out the car to determine who was omitting the smell and first focused on the two people in front of me. They may have accounted for the stale tobacco but all too quickly I honed in on the boozers by their conversation and their clothing. These two across the aisle from me, middle aged, looking like they could use a shower and siting in front of each other ant side by side requiring them to talk loudly. She was wearing ankle boots with black pants with sequins down the side, one pant leg half tucked into the boot, the other over the boot and the sequins were enough to distract me from noticing her top. He was wearing a 90's track jacket and some ill fitting Levis. And then their friend got on holding about 5 dozen roses, each individually wrapped and sorted by color. And then came the punch line when he asked for their tickets and they asked for his tax number. Who knew Monday night could be so interesting and who knows where he was selling so many roses on a Monday night.

The Lost Traveler
The cherry on the top came this afternoon when I went to meet P at the train station. He indicated that his train seemed to be arriving later than expected so I took my time and read all the boards to see if it had arrived before wandering to the track a full 10 minutes after the scheduled arrival. Since the train was in fact on time, I found a pretty deserted platform with P and some random guy in a suit at the stairs. Turns out this guy needed to make a phone call and P was nice enough to lend his phone. Random guy spoke about 10 words of German and a few more in English so communication was challenging. He traveled from Pakistan, possibly via Milan and was in Germany for the first time ever. His brother, a taxi driver, told him he would meet him at the train station and said brother did not show up hence the need for a phone. Since he said his brother is a taxi fahrer (but could not understand taxi driver so you know things are getting lost in translation), I suggested we go out to the taxi stand as it is possible he could not park his car. Once outside, P gets the brother on the phone only to learn he's about 15 minutes out. P told his brother where we were and tried as best as possible to convince our new friend to stay put. We didn't wait around but headed into the city thinking about what an asshole this guy's brother is to forget him in a foreign country where he lacks language skills, a cell phone or direction. Not to mention, the poor guy had 2 suitcases and not a clue. I hope he stayed put and got picked up.

I know some of these are in the you had to be there category and all would have been improved with photos but that's a small window into my week and we all know I don't have a smartphone. However, I recently bought a Touchpad thanks to HP's fire sale so hopefully I can use it to take discrete photos on the strassenbahn going forward. No promises but I'll try my best to document these encounters with photos going forward.

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