Holy Orders

Since my last ranty post, I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough.

I’ve found Jesus.

Christ…

I’m as surprised as you are – turns out he’s been sitting in a souvenir shop in the Alte Münze all this time. Will wonders never cease?

Anyway, since it seems that Jesus has chosen me to be his earthly representative here in Berlin, instead of complaining about what bugs me (though I do enjoy that too), I’ve decided to be more proactive and put together a short list of commandments which, if everyone gets on board, should make life easier for all of us.

The First Commandment: Thou shalt do right (or left)

The first working escalator was installed in 1896 so you’d really think people would have figured out how to use them by now. Not so. In Berlin, the system is really very simple: stand on the right, walk on the left. Yes, that’s it. Right, left. TWO options. Rechts stehen, links gehen. Jesus people (sorry, Jesus), how hard is that to remember? Luckily, I’d polished my aggressive Berliner “HALLLLLOOOOO!” long before I started polishing my halo so a few chosen souls have learned their lesson. Clearly, however, my work here is not done.

Instructional photo – two people are going to be struck down by irritated Berliners. Can you guess which two?

The Second Commandment: Thou shalt pocket thy smartphone

For some people, the stupidity doesn’t end when they step off the escalator. No, they choose to stop dead at the bottom or top of it and pull out their phone, causing mini pile-ups where’er they go. And it’s not limited to escalators. I’m sure you’ve all seen the incredibly bright sparks who walk around a city, glued to their phone, completely oblivious to anything or anyone around them.

Well, I’m here to tell you – you’re not that important or interesting. Nobody is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to see what you’re going to post, tweet, like, share… If you’re lost and need directions, move over to the side of the pavement and look them up. Better yet, ask a real person – if you look around you, you’ll see that they do actually still exist.

The Third Commandment: Thou shalt deal with thine own trash

When I first got to Berlin, one of the signs on the train windows made me laugh. It’s a picture of a hand throwing a bottle out the window with an “X” through it. “Who would actually do that?” I thought to myself. Well, you’d be surprised.

So brethren, if you’re drinking a beer on the train, take the bottle with you. If not, it rolls up and down the carriage, spewing what’s left of its contents and stinking up the whole place. If you’re finished treating the rest of us to the smell of your Döner, bin the wrapper on the train platform when you get off; don’t stuff it down the inside of the seat. You’d think that these things would go without saying but I guess there’s a reason Deutsche Bahn has started a Whatsapp “Reinigungsteam” (cleaning team) service. Shame it wasn’t in place when I saw someone taking a shit on the U6 platform at Friedrichstraße station. What a treat that would have been for the team…

On a bigger scale, if you have a broken printer, rickety wardrobe, holey shoe, etc., it’s not a “gift”. It’s an eyesore. Someone dumped a bed frame on our corner on Friday. By Saturday, two mattresses had joined it. If it continues like this, soon it will be like living in a Dänisches Bettenlager.

Stop the madness!

The Fourth Commandment: Thou shalt wear sandals

OK, I’m not fussy about the type of footwear but, in the name of all that’s holy (I’m getting the hang of this), please wear something on your feet. I think I’ve given you all a little taster of what the streets around Berlin can be like. What would Jesus wear? He’d wear bloody shoes, that’s what.

The Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt act like a parent and stop pissing everyone off

I’m pretty sure that anyone who’s ever been in a cafe in Prenzlauer Berg has had the same experience. You’re in kind of a hurry (or not – it’s irrelevant) so you pop in to pick up a tasty German treat to go. Brilliant, you think, only one woman and her toddler in front of me. I’ll be in and out in a flash.

Ha.

“So darling, what would you like?”

“I don’t know.” 

“Would you like a doughnut?”

“Ummm…”

“Or maybe a fruit cake?”

“Ummm…”

“You like chocolate, right? How about one of those?” 

“Doughnut.”

“Which colour? They have pink, white, yellow…”

“Ummm…”

“Or would you like the one with sprinkles? Or with little hearts? That would be nice, wouldn’t it, darling…” 

Jesus Christ. (Oops.) Give the kid anything. It’s two. It will eat it. Or not. Who really gives a damn? (Double oops.) Certainly not me or the tortured cafe worker.

You like little hearts, don’t you, dear heart? (ARRRGGGGHHHHH!)

I know there were originally ten commandments but people have shorter attention spans these days so I’m going to stop with five – for now. How wonderful it would be if people actually took note.

Without me having to smite them, that is. “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger…” Hmm, might be getting a bit carried away now. Back to being holy.

Blessed are those who wear shoes for they are also blessed with the gift of common sense.

 

 

40 thoughts on “Holy Orders”

    1. Ha, well, I guess if you live anywhere long enough things start to get on your nerves! It’s been four years now – hard to believe! Met an American guy the other night who thought it was perfectly acceptable to hop on a bike after having FIVE pints – cos, you know, Berlin… GRRR!

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  1. Ah yes. The First Commandment: Thou shalt do right (or left). The first escalators! The horror of going through Friedrichstrasse is legend. We always end up in a sorry bunch at the bottom of a pile. And why?
    Elderly German tourists! “Ach Fritz. Where is Helga, and Holger, and Aneta? Ah. Right there! Oh, people need to pass by and get their morning trains to school / work. No matter! Even though we don’t know our way around. We were here first, and we’ll block the front of the escalator if we want to, so there!”

    Oh, and the Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt act like a parent and stop pissing everyone off. Emm. Oops!
    Full disclaimer. I live in Prenzlauerberg (as you know.) And I’ve done that a few times especially as I never speak German to “The Tall Young Gentleman” so there’s usually a lot of conversation passed back and forth between me speaking German to the baker, speaking English to “The Boy,” and he speaking German back to the baker again. And yes, there’s usually rather a long queue behind us while we merrily do this in full public view.

    Cringe!

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  2. It’s great to see you back – you always make me smile. 😊
    I agree with all 5 of your commandments. The one about standing on the right on the escalators is already in place on the London Underground and you can always tell if you are using an escalator in a shop whether someone is a regular Tube user! If I stand on the left on an escalator outside London, I always feel quite naughty. 😊😉

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  3. The end-of-escalator pile-ups, yes! I can never understand it. People suddenly forget that there’s a whole stream of people behind them on the escalator about to sail into them from behind? And cyclists on smartphones, having a conversation while slowly drifting from left to right to left in the bike lane so that you can’t get around them. Argh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My next post is going to be about cycling in Berlin, I think – it’s a real eye-opener. I’d say at least half the people here have no lights, I’ve seen people with a mobile in one hand and a fag in the other, people with their feet up on the handlebars… It boggles the mind! Also saw a girl somehow get her bike stuck at the top of an escalator – that was quite the pile-up because everyone behind her had nowhere to go but up!

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      1. That sounds scary, glad I wasn’t behind her! A bike post sounds like a good idea as there are endless examples. My husband once hooted at a bike for going through a red light forcing him to slam on the brakes, and instead of apologizing the guy spat on his windshield. Crazy.

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  4. Now these are commandments that make sense! Your Second Commandment is spot-on and applies to all manner of situations. I resent having to walk around someone because they’ve stopped dead in the middle of a sidewalk to diddle with their phone. Why should I look where I’m going if they don’t? Ever notice how people walk the same way they drive when they are staring at their smart phones? They veer to the right, then to the left, then right again …. slowly. I’m not completely innocent, but I do try to be mindful and move off to the side if I get a message that I believe I must (absolutely must) read. Of course, I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time … What’s the Fourth Commandment about? Do people in Berlin go around barefoot?? Aren’t they afraid of stepping into the pile of shit on the U6 platform??

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    1. You would think – or all the broken glass or dog shit. Bumped into my local barman today – barefoot. So it’s not like he’s jobless or homeless and can’t afford shoes! Have also seen girls cycling around barefoot – how can that be comfortable!? I have to resist the urge to slap people on their mobile phones on the street. Guess I could call it the hand of God like Maradona 😉

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      1. I’m perplexed by why people would walk around barefoot. Is this something unique to Germany? Here in the US, though, shoes are often status symbols, not protective covering. As a kid I often went barefoot in the summertime, but I lived in the country. I can’t imagine walking around barefoot on sidewalks or city streets.

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        1. Neither can I! Aside from just the normal street dirt – their feet are BLACK! – there’s all the broken glass and god knows what else! Even wearing flip flops can be a bit risky! I wonder if it is unique to Germany – or maybe just Berlin. People here can be a bit nuts 😉

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