On winning at life (or at least on the train)

April 24th.

I had a train to catch this afternoon and I caught it.

The end.

🙂

***

The truth is, as usual, somewhat lengthier and involves a confrontation with a couple of officious ticket collectors, but I still won. And winning is what it’s all about, right?

***

Take 2.

I had a train to catch this afternoon. The sort of long distance train that you book in advance to make the journey affordable. The sort that you shouldn’t really miss because getting the next one is not just an unnecessary nuisance, it’s a really expensive unnecessary nuisance (and in this case would probably also mean getting in really late and not being fit for tomorrow’s meeting).

That meant leaving work early and catching two other local trains to get to the station. I started looking at train timetables a few days ago. I checked again this morning and decided on a connection that left me quite a lot of contingency time (more orderly people would probably have left double..)

I occasionally have an urge to be more organised. Part of that involved spending the Easter we finding the bottom of my washing baskets so that I would have a wardrobe full of clean, dry clothes to choose from. It didn’t stretch as far as actually packing..

I got involved in a late-night discussion instead of packing and had to pack this morning instead. By the time I’d agonised over the weather and what I was going to wear when, and watered all the plants, I ended up leaving ridiculously late.

Anyway.

I got to the station and remembered that I needed a ticket for the journey to work but didn’t think about what I was doing and bought a ticket for the whole of Berlin instead of just the area I need.

Doh.

The tickets are valid for travel in one direction for up to 2 hours. You can get off the train as often as you like during those hours, but you can’t go back in the direction you came from.

Work lies almost directly between my house and the station I was leaving from later. If I left work a few minutes earlier than I’d planned, I could get to the station using the same ticket I’d come in with. I figured it was a lucky mistake after all.

Whee!

***

As is probably obvious to anyone who either knows me or has read more than three of my posts, I left work a couple of minutes later than I should have done. I got to the station half a minute or so later than the train should have left.

Bummer.

There are trains scheduled every 10 minutes, so it wasn’t really a problem

I say ‘should have left’, because it turned out it was running late so it arrived before the next timetabled train.

Wheee!

In a different universe I would have got to the station without further incident.. However. This isn’t that universe. This is the universe where “maximal nerve-wracking” is my automatic setting.

In this universe the ticket controller got on the train at the exact moment the time on my ticket ran out.

Bummer.

By the time he got to me.. “Your ticket ran out 4 minutes ago”

“Oh…”

“Where are you getting off?”

“Uh..here.” I pointed at the next station. I wasn’t planning to get off there, but it seemed like a good idea to not be on a train with an invalid ticket at the same time as the controller. (Not having a valid ticket in Germany carries a 60€ fine). From that station the trains go approximately every 3 minutes, so it shouldn’t matter too much if I waited for the next one. Especially seeing as the train-timetable-app said the next train was running a few minutes late…

“Ok.” (That’s the abrieviated version. He was very grumpy but jobsworthily pleased to have someone to rant at).

He watched as I got off the train..

..and then got off too.

He sat on the bench with his controller friend and looked as if he was content to stay for the duration.

Hmm.

Bummer.

I was only three stops away from where I wanted/needed to be, two from where I needed to change, but there was no chance I could walk there and still catch my train.

I went back to the ticket controllers.

“I’m sorry, I made a mistake. I wasn’t supposed to get off here after all. I need Other Station instead. Can I get the next train with this ticket? It’s only two stops… Please?”

They weren’t very happy, but they did rather dourly allow me to get on the next train.

Whee!

More accurately, they made sure I knew just how much I wasn’t allowed to use tickets past their use-by time, then escorted me onto the next train and watched me to make sure I got out where I said I would…

I luckily had to change platforms to change trains, and they got back on the train to check the tickets in a different wagon, so they didn’t see the last 3 and half minutes of my illicit journey.

Whee!

I arrived exactly 15 minutes before the train left, exactly as instructed by the ticket :).

Whee!

There were major building works at the long-distance station. And rather confusing signposts. And I was trying to catch a train that doesn’t exist on the timetable, rather like the Hogwarts Express, except that I didn’t know which platform to aim for.

Bummer.

My ticket said check the boards and the board said check your ticket.

Sigh.

I found the right platform by chance and after going up and down escalators more or less at random and checking all the platform displays. Some of which said check the display..

Whee? I guess..

When the train arrived it was full and the thermostat was broken

Bummer.

But I was on the right train train at the right time and I did get a seat and there were openable windows and we all got there safely.

Whee!

And that was the end of another successful travelling day.

***

(Yup, I’m off gallavanting again – there are meetings tomorrow and Friday that I want to go to, followed by people I want to visit for the weekend)

On furnishing adventures – papasan chair (and picture boards)

I recently gave away the first piece of furniture I ever properly owned. A lady came early in the morning to pick it up for her cats…

***

I bought the papasan chair at a carboot sale in autumn 2006.

The town held a car boot sale once a year and pretty much everyone who was anyone went. Either to buy or to sell. The posters were put up well in advance and on the day the entire middle of the town was covered/filled with people – I didn’t know the town was big enough for the turn out.

So anyway. There I was. Newly arrived in a new town with a new room in my first shared flat. It was a fantastic room but although it was furnished, I had a shortage of seating. My housemates were busy doing other things so I set off by myself.

One of the first things I saw when I reached the car boot sale was a papasan chair. I’ve always loved those chairs so when I saw one I couldn’t leave it behind. On the other hand I didn’t want to carry it round the whole town so I paid for it and asked the seller to look after it until I came back to pick it up.

As I made my way round the market I also bought a printer, a backpack, a heavy frying pan and a few other things. Fully laden, I set off for home..

Then I remembered the chair.

A sensible person would probably have carried the first lot of stuff home and come back for the chair. I am not that person. Instead I packed the backpack as full as I could, put the base on the inside of the chair, persuaded the printer box into the base and piled everything else into the spaces.

Once everything was stowed away, I hoisted it onto my head and did my best impression of an African water carrier… except I am not cut out to carry things on my head without holding onto them so my best impression was terrible (and wobbly, despite holding on).

***

I made it home without dropping anything which is a very good thing since I wouldn’t have been able to gather it back up without major effort. As it was I unpacked on the drive and it took multiple trips up and down the stairs to bring everything into my room.

Phew! I could finally lie back in my new chair and relax :).

Only for a few minutes tho – I had lots of other new things to admire and unpack and wash and put away. (It was lucky I didn’t put the unpacking off until later – the printer turned out to be missing all the necessary cables and drivers and I think the block the ink cartridges go in, although I’d been promised it was all there so I lugged it back into town and the guy refunded my money 🙂 )

***

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. The chair has accompanied me for 12 years and 5 moves. It was looking somewhat worse for wear. The base was mostly held together with cable ties and the seat part was missing pieces of the spiral. Sitting in it felt like a brave undertaking, being as how it creaked and groaned and sagged when you lowered yourself into it. Getting out again was even trickier.

When I found a newer version in the small ads I pounced. It was on the other side of Berlin and I am still car-less, but that never stopped me before so I organised a pickup date. It was being offered without a cushion, but mine was still ok so that wasn’t a problem, and as far as transport went, was more of an advantage than anything else; the chairs are unwieldy things at the best of times and the cushions are heavy.

The former owner only lived a mile or so away from the station and the weather was good, I didn’t see a problem. When she found out I was going to be carrying it on the train she was amazed (and amazing) and tied the base to the chair for me. (She had a ball of string strategically placed close to her front door. I might have to adopt this practice).

Having the pieces tied together makes carrying them much easier.

I set off towards home.

Because I am still not the sensible person I wasn’t before, and because I hate wasting travelling time, I had made another appointment to pick up some picture boards conveniently being given away en route.

Mostly en route anyway. I suppose one has to count getting off the train for a 25 minute round trip with a large unwieldy chair as a slight detour.

The people sitting outside the pubs and cafés on the way between the train station and the picture board house were much amused by me walking past them twice.

Carrying 2 picture boards as well as the chair proved a little bit more complicated. Luckily I had lots of time to get home.*

***

There’s no way I have space for a broken chair I’m not using – the old one had to go. I couldn’t bring myself to dismantle it and throw it away, but I also couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to pay for it. I put it on eBay and hoped for the best.

Within a few minutes I had the first interested message. A couple of hours after that the second. In the end I gave it to the third person who wrote a week later after the other two hadn’t arranged a concrete pick up date.

When she arrived to take it away I pointed out all the places it was broken and said she should be careful sitting in it. Turns out I didn’t need to worry – she’s lining it with multiple blankets and letting her cats sleep in it. Good to know it’s got lots of life in it yet 🙂 makes getting rid of it that much easier..

* (..she says, lying through her teeth. I was running late and had to get home, showered and dressed up for a concert in very few hours).

On swapping stereos when the music stops

I took the dud stereo to work with me today (by train, after bringing my bike to the bike-workshop ;)) so I could swap it back with the seller for a working replacement after work.

Read that sentence again. What stands out most? Work work work!

And it does! Nothing broken, nothing dropped, nothing lost or soaked or dismantled. In fact nothing to laugh at at all…*

The new stereo is very dull, but it works (!!! Whee!!!) and it was pretty cool that the guy was willing to exchange it, and that he even had a second one for sale at all.

I’m going to take it to work tomorrow and swap it for my original one (because that one’s programmable and has a remote, and is properly mine!).

And when I get home with it, and the world stops making me dizzy, I will sit back and enjoy the music 🙂 ..

…and then clear up the chaos that ignoring my house for a few days has let ensue.

* Albert and the lion

On breaking the old and dropping the new

From Friday.

Once upon a time, when I lived by myself, I bought myself all manner of things and used them as required.

Then I moved in with xDB and stopped needing most of my things. I sold some and gave lots away. The rest were put in the garage or the cellar or hidden stowed away in boxes.

Recently I moved out and back into a flat of my own. I began buying or being given things to replace what I was missing. I assumed that the things I already had would continue to work as expected.

However.

Nothing is ever as one assumes. This is probably why assumption is something to avoid.

***

I went out to pick up a stereo system after work this evening.

My old one wasn’t as good as xDB’s and so had been rehoused at work when the ancient radio there decided it had had a good life and wanted to go to wherever good radios go when they die.

When I moved, I no longer had any way of playing music besides my alarm clock, my phone and my laptop. None of the three have spectacular speakers, especially the alarm clock. I’m not especially fussy about these things, but I’m quite happy if I can recognise who’s supposed to be singing or what song is playing.. I suppose I could theoretically take my old stereo back from work but I can’t imagine my colleague working without a radio, so I decided to leave it there and procure a newer one for my flat. Almost 6 months later I still haven’t. It hasn’t fought to the top of the priority list.

While I was browsing the free section of the small ads the other day, I found someone getting rid of a ‘micro stereo system in top working order’. I wrote to say I wanted to pick it up. The seller said it wasn’t free after all and named his price. I said he shouldn’t have put it in the free section if he actually wanted to sell it, but named my maximum and we agreed on a time and place to meet across town.

I decided, possibly foolishly after Wednesday’s adventure, to take my bike with me to save having to make a detour via work to pick it up afterwards.

I got the two trains with no problems. I found lifts and even found somewhere to change my large(ish) banknotes into smaller ones. I reached the designated meeting point at the designated time with the correct money and was feeling very proud of myself.

Even picking up the stereo was no problem. I didn’t want to leave my bike outside, so when the seller suggested he brought it out to save time I readily agreed

The man had packed it very neatly into two carrier bags. It was bigger than expected, and heavier, but I thought that must be a good sign.

One of the carrier bags was plastic, one paper. I’m probably a bit overly cautious but it’s January and the current weather forecast doesn’t make for overly joyful reading. I think potential rain and paper bags are a bad combination (though not as bad as actual rain and paper bags) so I carefully repacked my new speakers into my panier. The subwoofer in its plastic bag hung on my handlebar. It was much too heavy to balance while cycling so I pushed the bike.

The journey back was less simple. There’s a very large station in Berlin where a lot of S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains travel on different levels. It’s a station I usually quite like. I’ve been there a lot and changed trains there many times in many constellations….as a footpassenger. As a passenger with a heavily laden bicycle, stations turn into something quite different. I rode at least 4 lifts and spent a long time trying to find out where each of them were hidden. What takes me a maximum of 5 minutes by foot, took me at least 15 with the bike.

When I could finally see the platform my train was leaving from, but not the lift I needed to get to it, I gave up on the lifts altogether and used the stairs. My bike is fantastic, but it is not a light thing. There is no way I can carry it downstairs onehandedly, so I kept the front wheel in the air and let the back wheel bounce slowly on each step.

Approximately halfway down there was a sudden, strange noise. I looked behind me and saw the panier hanging from one of its clips. I was on the middle of a relatively well used staircase, a I had a subwoofer under one arm, the other hand on the crossbar with my elbow and wrist keeping the handle bars halfway steady. I couldn’t stop, couldn’t adjust my grip of anything, couldn’t even use my knees to push the panier back up to level because it was on the other side of my bike.

The only way out was down. I carried on going.

The second and final clip flew off before we reached the platform. The panier holding the newish stereo fell down and rolled the last few steps. It seems plastic clips aren’t up to being ignored for several years and then bounced.

I walked home with one bag on each side of my handle bars.

And the stereo didn’t even work when I got it home.

Before, I just wanted clearer music, now I also need new paniers.

ARGH.

On lacking expectation

I cycled to work this morning. It rained half the way there. The first half. Only the first half I suppose. I wasn’t expecting it to stop but it did.

***

After work, I had a plan to get a couple of trains to a distant part of town to try on a ski-helmet and pick up a pair of skis. After that I was going to get a train back and go and pick up the mattress.

***

I originally planned to leave my bike at work and swap it for the skis and possibly the helmet before cycling home. When I looked at the map and the local transport app at lunchtime, I discovered that I wouldn’t be home in time for the mattress if I relied on the buses to take me from A to B and B to C. I decided to take my bike and cycle from the station to the helmet, then to the skis and push the bike to the next station where a direct train would bring me to within 10 minutes of my flat.

***

Did anyone else notice the parts where I said plan and claimed it as my own?

Did all the alarm bells start ringing?

Did you feel the words “uh-oh” forming, ready to be released at a moment’s notice?

Did you see the chaos building up in the distance like the storm currently waiting to attack Berlin?

No? I didn’t either. I ran straight into it headlong.

I didn’t expect anything. But it expected me. I must be good company, or at least a regular visitor…

***

We had a fire alarm at work after lunch and before I could write my plan down.

Afterwards, I tried to get my work done so I could leave on time.

I almost did, too.

***

It wasn’t raining when I left my workshop so I packed my waterproof overskirt away in my panier.

It started raining just as I got outside the building. I don’t like being wet if it’s a cold kind of wet, and I especially dislike cycling in wet jeans, so I stopped and unpacked it.

I wasn’t expecting to spend time getting dressed once I’d left.

I didn’t expect the lift to be full when I got to the station so that I needed to wait for it to come up a second time.

I didn’t expect to miss the first train on my list of 3.

I didn’t expect the lifts at the second station to only go up when the train I needed to catch was a floor lower than the one I started on.

I didn’t expect the second lift, a lift I crossed a road especially to reach, to bring me back to the middle floor.

I didn’t remember my bike being so heavy when I decided to carry it down and up the next stairs I encountered.

I wasn’t aware that one station name in Berlin can actually mean 3 separate stations for the 3 types of train, and that they can be several hundred metres away from each other.

I didn’t appreciate having to visit each one of them to realise it.

I didn’t remember that the third train I wanted to catch only left once an hour.

I really didn’t like having to retrace my steps to get an alternative train from a station I’d already fought my way out of.

***

I didn’t check the map closely enough to know that the street I was looking for, started with one name and ended with a different one.

I didn’t realise that I cycled right past it without noticing.

I wasn’t paying enough attention as I started enjoying cycling along a straight cycle path without rain.

I wasn’t ready for the dark when the street lights stopped.

I wasn’t expecting my bike’s front light to be weaker than the wind-up torch I took on a night walk in 6th form.

I didn’t want to stop on the side of a busy but dark road with nothing but the dim glow of a fading dynamo to show where I was in order to check the map again.

I trusted Google when it recommended an alternative route from my current position when I finally felt safe enough to check.

I didn’t know, when I set out down the “dead end – pedestrian access only” road, that it would lead me into the middle of a very muddy field.

I didn’t know you could switch between the directions mode and the map mode without retyping the street name.

I didn’t know, once I was in a particularly boggy patch of field, whether it would be quicker to turn round and go back, or to carry on squelching.

I couldn’t imagine that I could be so scared of things that go bump (or knatterknatterknatter) in the dark.

I wasn’t expecting the torch on my phone to be so good.

I didn’t know in advance that I would rather cycle unnecessarily far by road, just to avoid a couple of hundred metres along a dark path through a woods

I didn’t know, when I set out from work, that I would arrive at the helmet man’s house later with the bicycle than I would have done without it.

I didn’t know, from the picture and the description, that the helmet would be just a smidgen too small.

I also didn’t know from the brief phone calls we’d had, that the seller would be so gracious about letting me traipse mud all through his immaculate house. “Relax! It’s all tiled and washable – it gets muddy every time I come in from working in the garden :)”

I didn’t know it would take me more than twice the time Google suggested to cycle across to the ski lady’s house.

I didn’t know that the skis would be so sharp that they’d take the paint off my handlebars when I rested them there.

I didn’t know that I would have such a problem steering when I got the skis into a stable position.

I couldn’t guess that the wind would pick up and join the pouring rain to slow down my attempts to get to the station while pushing my bike and balancing a pair of skis.

***

I didn’t expect to have to ask someone how to get into the train station.

I didn’t count on missing the last direct train of the evening and having to take three other indirect trains instead.

I didn’t think my phone battery would go down so fast, but I also didn’t think the last few percent would last all the way home.

I wasn’t expecting anyone to talk to me on the train, and when they did, I wasn’t expecting them to say, “don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve got a wife and a kid waiting for me” as we got out at the same station.

***

I didn’t expect to get home more than 7 hours and 22km after leaving work, 3 hours later than I wanted to pick up the mattress.

***

Despite everything, I still feel it was a successful day..

One on which I feel I definitely earned my sleep.

***

Talking of sleep…I wasn’t planning on sleeping on the floor again tonight, but then, life always seems to have more in store for me than I could ever imagine.

(And I wasn’t expecting the neighbour to phone and apologize, but he did – assuming the mattress man is understanding enough not to sell the mattress to someone else tomorrow, we’re all set to pick it up in the evening 🙂 – wheee!)

On a train to Paradise…

20160609_123054.jpg
Side note: Jena is the town, Paradies is the area, as well as the German word for paradise. Changing JenA to JenE would change the meaning to ‘that paradise” (as opposed to “this paradise”)… The pronunciation is similar enough for me not to notice the difference.

…should I be worried?

Was nice knowing you all! (Just in case)

Update:
I got there, and back again, in one piece 🙂

 

On sight-snoring

I am on the road again. Or more rather on the tracks. Since I’m travelling almost entirely by train.

Whatever.

It’s a 7 1/2 hour journey from where I live to where I have to be at 7pm.

Instead of leaving at midday and making a usual late appearance, I chose an early train so that I arrived at about half past 2 and had time to admire the town. I’ve been here before but didn’t get to see much of the 16th century architecture and pokey cobbled alleyways.

There’s also quite a lot of a castle left – although it’s not quite IN the town itself, it’s still not too far to walk.

That was my plan.

It was raining lightly when I got off the train. Grey and damp is always the best way to see a town…. *sigh*.

After wobbling along the line between what I wanted to eat and what I’d given up for lent at the ‘proper’ bakery next to the station, I wandered towards the hotel via a church closed for repairs and a graveyard with a mixture of war memorials and more recent memories, my pink umbrella standing out from all the grey like the red-jumpered man in a Constance painting.

When I got there the hotel foyer was deserted, except for a landline phone (with a curly cable :)) next to a small sign with a phone number on. Once I’d convinced myself that there really wasn’t anyone around, I phoned the number and let it ring a couple of times before hanging up.

The hotel man, who appeared a couple of seconds later, seemed a bit miffed that I’d hung up on him, but he still handed me the key for my room, which was all I wanted anyway 🙂

I dumped my bag, went to the loo, sat on the bed and promptly decided to take off my coat, shoes and glasses. Big beds can only mean one thing – sleep!

Fast forward a good couple of hours (can almost 3 still be a couple??) DB phoned to get my help setting up a new computer. (That’s a bit like me phoning him up and expecting him to talk me through changing the oil in a new car, one neither of us has ever seen before…).

And now it’s time to go to the restaurant for an evening-before-the-real-meeting meeting.

Ho-hum.

Next time I’ll have to plan to get here a day in advance!

On buying problems in a wine bottle

I lugged my suitcase up the steps and onto the train and breathed out – unaware that I’d even been holding my breath..

Looking around, it became apparent that I’d landed in the first class carriage. I would have to wrangle my suitcase and an unwieldy bag of picture frames* through the restaurant car and past the private cabins, but at least I was on the train.

***

The station had been full of people walking slowly, and I’d got stuck behind a deaf couple going just fast enough to make it hard to overtake without bashing someone.

They were too busy signing with each other to notice me, and since asking them to either hurry up or let me through was a hopeless case, I tried not to think about the time, and instead concentrated on not ramming them with my luggage.

The train was already there and the platform was mostly empty by the time I’d made my way up the escalator. Luckily.

I ran, or stumbled, unhindered (except by myself) along the platform and hurled myself at an unblocked door.

***

The train left before I’d had a chance to find a seat. I lurched forwards, trying not to fall on anyone, and still panting from running along the platform.

I asked the first person sitting by themselves if the seat next to them was free and flopped into place as they moved over to the window seat.

After getting [most of] my breath back, I checked my phone, told DB I’d caught the train ok, repositioned the picture frames so that they weren’t poking my legs more than necessary and took out the biscuit tin.

image

One of the guys at the meeting on Saturday had provided 3 tins of Christmas biscuits and since we hadn’t eaten them all yet, they were offered to whoever wanted them.

It’s still a bit early for Christmas biscuits, but they are good ones, and they are easy to eat on trains so I volunteered to take one of the tins off their hands :).

Anyway. It’s a little bit rude to eat biscuits by oneself, even if you don’t know your neighbours, so I turned to the window-seat-man and offered him the tin. He looked a little bit lot perplexed, but ate one regardless. 🙂

Then he reached down into his bag and produced a slim black tin which he presented me..

image

For some reason I first thought it must be cigars, but it turned out to be chocolates – “from Dubai”, he said casually, as if everyone carried excess tins of Dubai chocolates with them**..

A surprisingly interesting conversation ensued – he’s an on-call pilot for a rich Russian bloke with a private jet and a string of inportant worldwide business meetings (hence the chocolates from Dubai ;)) – and I was a bit disappointed that he was changing trains after only a couple of stops.

As the train pulled up to his station, he started gathering his stuff together. A coat, a suitcase, a laptop bag….and a very large cardboard box.

“That’s a bottle of wine. A very big bottle of wine. A huge bottle. I bought it in Italy and it’s the reason I’m on the train. I usually fly home, but I wasn’t allowed to take it on the plane! Taking liquid on my bosses plane is ok, but not on passenger machines… I should have known that I wasn’t buying wine, I was buying problems in a bottle!”

And with that, a smile and a wave, he was gone, leaving me with a small black tin of chocolates and a story for my travel collection – and a post! 🙂

* Three were almost exactly what I’d been looking for, for a project I’m working on, two were simple and colourful and would go well on my wall. And besides, they weren’t very expensive and I don’t go shopping much ;).

** If they do, can someone tell me why I knew nothing about it?

On [not] helping

I spent a lot of yesterday getting on and off trains.

I love the freedom of county tickets and days off – the freedom to do exactly what I want, where I want to do it. 🙂

Each time I realised the current plan wasn’t going to work, I changed it, checking the timetables in the stations and on my phone as needed.

I took my time over breakfast, looking at churches, letting the dried fruit salesman persuade me to buy horrendous amounts of ginger, walking through town, perusing the postcard stands and eating local sausages from a street market stall.

Overall, everything worked out well, but I ended up waiting for half an hour on a semi-desolate platform in a fairly small town / large village.

A Turkish guy asked me in very broken German if I could help him work out which trains to catch across most of southern Germany to Munich. He’d got a ticket, but had missed the train he was supposed to get, and was a little bit out of his depth.

I’ve been stranded on enough platforms with little or no idea which train to catch or how to read the timetable or what all the abbreviations mean, to know how helpless it makes you feel. Even if you speak the language it’s tough in a strange place.

I’ve also been helped by more people than I can remember. People who have helped me figure out what sort of train (local, regional, national, express) I’m allowed on to with which ticket, which buttons to press to get the machine to talk to me, where to punch the ticket before getting on the train, how to get to the platform I need, …….

Whatever.

My phone battery survived just long enough to look up a connection for him and write it on the back of an envelope. We figured out which platform he needed and all was good. He phoned his German speaking supervisor (he was supposed to be meeting them, but was running late) and asked me to tell them we’d sorted things out and that he was on his way but was going to be there later than previously arranged.

In the middle of the phone call, an elderly-ish gentleman came up and demanded to know where he was headed, he picked up some of what I was telling the supervisor and proceeded to read him the timetable, loudly, jabbing his finger at the board and asking if he ‘couldn’t even read’. (The fact that the timetable only tells you the end destination and maybe 30% of the stops (per journey) was irrelevant. As was the fact that he needed to change trains a couple of times).

I finished the call, already irritated that he had talked at me throughout most of it (can’t stand that!), whereupon he told me he’d watched the guy miss the train he needed twice.

Twice, when the train goes once an hour, means he’s been watching him for two hours.

!!!!!!

What’s with that???

What could make a person spend two hours sitting on a platform watching a foreigner miss multiple trains???

And then, having spent two hours being remarkably unhelpful, what would make them decide to get involved once the situation’s already been resolved???

I really really don’t understand some people.

On commuting, phones and free time

I’m back on the train.

I have joined the commuting classes – as if there were such a thing – and I’m quite glad about it.

Not especially about the ride, but it creates a small space in my day where no one can complain about me ‘playing’ with my phone. No one can be jealous or upset that they don’t have my full attention, no one can make me feel guilty for not unpacking/tidying/washing the floor/working/whatever. No one can try and convince me that writing is a waste of time or that no one wants to read what I want to write. Continue reading “On commuting, phones and free time”

On being wet, cold and bad tempered

It rained on the way to the train station.

Really hard.

Hailed too.

I understand that it has to rain sometimes. I know the ground is rock hard. I know the farmers have been practically begging for rain for weeks. That’s all good and logical. I’m all for happy farmers.

However.

Why can’t it rain when I don’t have to be outside?! I need about 10 minutes to get to the station. That leaves a lot of day to rain through.

But no. It had to rain while I was out. And now I’m on the train with wet jeans and wet feet and a wet coat*.

And a bad mood, but that was caused by the glass I was working on before I left work.

And it’s cold. It promised to be spring. We had almost 20 degrees last week. Today it’s probably not even 8, and that feels cold. Besides, I’m a glassblower and glassblowers need for it not to be cold. But no one asked for my opinion.

You know what?

It takes a whole lot longer to dry than to get wet…

* I think it must be broken, it used to be waterproof 🙁

On intolerance and trains

I would like to believe that I am a tolerant person.

However. Commuting seems to bring out my intolerant side.

Some things are especially infuriating.

Take, for example, bikers. People who ride bikes. Most of my life I held the opinion that cycling was generally a good thing to do. Environmentally friendly and all that. These days I think it depends on the definition of “environment”. If you mean trees and lakes and mountains you might still be right. Probably even. If you mean “whatever-happens-to-be-around-you” I’m not so sure. Especially if there are trains and other people involved. Even more especially if there are early mornings and lots of people involved. Extra especially if it’s 7 am on a Berlin weekday. Even more extra especially when there are several of them. Bikers I mean, not weekdays.

Why do people have to take bikes on the tube at 7 am?? Don’t they know how full the tube is?? And that’s before you add buggies, bikes and fat people into the mix. I can see that people with small children (and buggies) need to go places and don’t necessarily have cars. That’s fine. I can accept that fat people are entitled to ride on trains. Not a problem. What I don’t get is why the bikers find it appropriate or acceptable to make everyone squish together to make room for them and their bike and then stand in the way while half the passengers get off the train to let other people out/on at each and every stop.

ARGH.

I wouldn’t care if they spent all day on the train, really, as long as they stay off them during rush hour. Or pay for at least 5 tickets.

What also annoys me is the reluctance of certain people to sit by the windows. They prefer to sit on the edge, with one knee sticking out into the isle.

Assuming there are seats available, you can almost guarantee that they will be windowseats with an obstacle course between them and the door. It mostly isn’t worth fighting your way past all the ferocious people who are intent on staying exactly where they are and making it difficult for you to get past.

If everyone chose the windowseats first, then a whole lot more people would be able to sit down. That in turn would free up some space for the people who have to stand up.

Maybe then the bikers wouldn’t be such a problem……

On the train to work

Today is my first ‘proper’ day at work in Berlin.

(I went to talk to everyone and sort out my workbench last week, but I couldn’t start until my insurance came through. One of them still hasn’t, but I can’t really push my starting date further back than it already is…….)

The journey there is about 50 minutes on 3 trains. Plus the drive to the station and the walk to the workshop. I have a ‘half day’ contract, but work whole days to make it worth the commute.

The first train was full before I got on it, and my stop is only the second or third! The second was slightly better and I even got a seat :).

I’ve just got off the third train and am going to be early to work because I got the connection before the one I was aiming for :).

I feel quite sorry for my reputation – it must be wondering what went wrong! It tried it’s best to make me late, but I won ( = am winning so far). I left the washing in the machine last night, but because it was mostly chunky things I could hang it up really quickly. Then I couldn’t find my pre bought ticket. But I had enough money for a new one (and then found my old one in the car), I didn’t miss a train or a stop and it isn’t even raining! Today has to be a good day!!

On anniversaries

I’ve been here (on WordPress) for a year now.

A year is a pretty long time for me to stick to something.

Except it doesn’t feel like I’ve been stuck.

When I wrote it was because I wanted to, not because I had to.

I think I like writing. A whole lot more than I did during English lessons in school anyway. There’s something therapeutic about getting thoughts out of your head and onto the screen.

I read through some of my old posts this morning and can’t wait to get back to writing as and when ideas hit me.

Recently I’ve been working* too much to do anything much beyond eat and crash out. Some weeks went by without me even opening my laptop – something unimaginable this time last year.

As a result I haven’t written nearly as often as I’ve had things I wanted to write about, but I hope that now school and most of the exams are over I’ll be able to get on the computer more regularly.

Anyway.  Thanks for sticking around.

Until soon!!

Jesska

* Working is in this case the generic term for all the following:

– working 10 or 11 hour days during the week to scrape together the 80 hours overtime I needed to earn 2 weeks off to work on my Meisterstück
– staying on even longer to practise for the exam and to work on my Meisterstück
– commuting between Baden-Würtemburg and Berlin most weekends (8hours each way by train or 3hours by plane if you count check in time and travel to and from the airport/train station)
– working on my Meisterstück at weekends and on public holidays as well
– trying to fit in time with the boyfriend