Since my last ranty post, I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough.
I’ve found Jesus.
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.
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.
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.
“So darling, what would you like?”
“I don’t know.”
“Would you like a doughnut?”
“Or maybe a fruit cake?”
“You like chocolate, right? How about one of those?”
“Which colour? They have pink, white, yellow…”
“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.
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.