On saving the world, a pint at a time

This morning started the same way most mornings do – in a bid to stay in bed and pretend the world wasn’t actually expecting me to get up and be useful.

I spent longer than I meant to looking for the paperwork I needed to take with me, which resulted in missing the train I originally wanted to catch and in turn having to wait almost 10 minutes for the next one. On the plus side, I got to the final-station without missing any stops and so having to go back (that happens more often than I want to admit.. especially when I’m reading ;)).

So anyway. All was as it usually is. Nothing told me it was going to be a special, heroic, Jesska-saves-the-world sort of day.

When I reached my station, I walked along the platform to the steps…





Not the sort of smoke that cigarettes or cigars produce, this was the sort of unwelcome plastic-bag-in-a-bonfire kind of smoke.



The kind of smoke that makes the end of your nose wrinkly and your mouth go all scrunched up.


Ah! A dustbin on fire. Joyous.

Everyone else walked past it, either oblivious or unconcerned or busy or late or whatever causes people to not care about what’s going on around them.

I had no water on me, and nothing else in the way of fire-stopping material (odd that ;)) and there are no taps and no Security People at this station.

Now what?

On the one hand, I think the Fire Brigade have enough serious problems to deal with, without being called out to put out smoking dustbins on platforms.

On the other, I didn’t know who else to call*.

By this point I should have been at work already. I’d spent 9 unnecessary minutes waiting at the first station due to missing my train, and I was getting later and later with every thought about smoking bins. I very nearly went to work and ignored it, but there’s something in me that can’t do that.

When all else fails, find a baker.

Most train stations in Berlin (and a fairly high percentage in the rest of Germany) have at least one ‘resident’ bakery. I haven’t ever bought anything from this one, but I generally smile on my way past, or wish him a good “Feierabend” (literally: “Party-evening” = evening of not working = what’s left of the day when you finish work) depending on whether I’m coming or going. This morning, instead of smiling and walking past, I went in and asked him what he thought I/we should do about the burning dustbin. He just shrugged, which irritated me for a couple of seconds until I realised there wasn’t actually much he could suggest, restricted as he was to his 6mΒ² of shopfloor and oven full of half-baked breadrolls. Not to mention the steady stream of customers.

I asked him if he had a bucket, and if so if he could fill it with water so I could do my best firefighting act. He is a very obliging baker, even if he did look at me as if I was the strangest thing he’d seen all morning.

This is the closest he came to having a bucket:

As jugs go, this was a fairly big one. As buckets go…. well… *sighs*


Neither beggers nor Jesskas can be choosers when it comes to buckets, so I thanked him and made my way back down to the platform.

A couple of trips up and down the steps later, and the bin had stopped smouldering and was now standing in a puddle.

I gave the baker his jug back, wished him a good day and started out in the direction of my workshop.

A few metres up the road (where the lift is) I saw this:

A brand new, shiny, dustbin, presumably meant as a replacement for the one that had been on fire.

Someone must have phoned the train company (something I hadn’t thought of doing… :S).


When I came home this evening, none of the bins had been replaced. I feel almost heroic πŸ™‚





* Ghostbusters didn’t seem right either…

0 thoughts on “On saving the world, a pint at a time

  1. Very good work “Jesska the fire lady”, isn’t it amazing how many people do ignore what is happening right where they are? Perhaps we live in a “don’t get involved” society these days because of violence and other antisocial behaviour.

    1. Very likely, although I would have thought that would be more related to fighting or drug sales.. I suppose it rubs off onto all other areas of life though. And theoretically I guess it could have been a bomb, and I could have blown myself up by going closer… (I have no idea how bombs work – do they smoke before they go off?). If I had the sort of job where it actually mattered what time I arrived, I wouldn’t have been able to hang about either… luckily I have relatively flexible hours :). And at least someone phoned the train company πŸ™‚

  2. Bravo on your community spirit. Award yourself a gold star πŸ™‚ (or chocolate, whichever you prefer)
    P.S if you don’t want the chocolate I will dispose of it for you.

  3. I totally agree with your other commenters. You are the only one that stepped up and make a change. Who knows, had that dust bin caught fire instead of smoldering it could have done a lot of destruction and your baker friend could have lost his business from the devastation. So GO YOU! AWESOME!

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