I knew it was wrong, but… Language Course: Day 4

2013-07-10 13.16.35

I rode to school on a kurz-trekke ticket, when I should have used a 1b.

There are few things more frowned upon in modern German than dodging the system. The kurz is designed for no more than 4 stops, but I was running late, and while it is bad to travel with the wrong tariff it is far worse to get onto a crowded commuter route and not put something into the stamping machine. Fearing the disapproving glare of my neighbour, I fed in the kurz, and hoped.

That morning I had really, truly, horribly needed a shave. It had reached that weird point where none of the hairs could agree with each other as to direction or length. Many encryption projects focus around the concept of random and pseudo-random information. ‘How can you take a message, data encoded in a regular, measured way, and then encode it so that no one would even dream it were anything other than meaningless fuzz?’ Those scientists need to pay a visit to my beard. By the third day of growth, it is meaningless fuzz.

One of my ‘new city; new standards’ resolutions was to pass myself of as a human, so I skipped breakfast to tidy-up my fizzgog.

So I missed the U16. This was just as well as I used the time to jam my card in the ticket robot. This handily translates its instructions, but only up to a point, so it allowed me to select a ticket, but wouldn’t process my payment. Twice.

On the third attempt the U63 turned up, so I grabbed my card, ditched Marvin and jumped through the doors elegantly and, or so I thought, efficiently.

The thing about German underground trains is that they have a pressure sensor just by the door. So while I thought I wasn’t holding anyone up, I was. It took two abortive door-close-operation-failures (reboot, reboot) for me to realise that my foot was tripping that switch. I stepped back, and the train continued. In the train’s defence, there was a helpful little explanatory notice. In my defence, the tiny notice was in techni-Deutsch.

I got off at my usual stop. As the train pulled away I noticed that the next carriage contained one of my classmates. She obviously knew a better stop for our college. I felt a fool. I walked past a beggar, and didn’t give anything. Twenty pence is no good to a European beggar, I consoled myself. Then I realised I had to go to the bank. College was getting further away.

With hindsight the bank hadn’t been hard to find, but the search had taken the wind out of my sails. As I rounded the corner I chanced upon two of the Spanish cousins. We passed the time of day pleasantly till I chance upon a baker. They offered to wait for me, but I waved them on cheerily. Their kindness shouldn’t mean we would all be late.

I mummed and mimed and pointed my way through ordering

 ‘I’d like, please, a sliced loaf, if you have anything made of spelt or Rye (wheat is bad for me, you know, no, ‘course you wouldn’t), a cheese roll, provided it is of the same stuff as the loaf, and a black coffee, without milk, to go, without sugar, please and thank you very much. Good day.’

 Leaving, I felt proud of my achievement and, in my pride, burnt my upper lip.

I wasn’t all that late after all, after I stood in the corridor, frantically scramming my wheat-free cheese roll.


PS. if you’re wondering, I did give that beggar some euro-change after class.


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