Monday, 20 September 2010

Heute ist nicht Ihr Tag

"Today is not your day"

Today after I work I "quickly popped" to the Verkehrsinsel (transport island) in town to buy a rail card and some train tickets. I did not think it would take very long. I was terribly mistaken.

I arrived and joined the queue for the Deutsche Bahn counter, rather than RMV. There were four people in front of me. An older lady sat on a chair and explained she was waiting too. The woman in front quipped she had been waiting half an hour longer than the seated lady. She was getting pretty stressed. There was a couple at the counter already who did not speak German and were taking ages. I thought to myself "I will be quick, I shan't become those people." I probably don't need to tell you this, but I became those people.

I finally got to the front of the queue after half an hour of waiting. I asked for tickets to Munich and my mangled pronunciation of München caused the man at the counter to start talking to me in English. But I didn't relent and continued in German, the good student that I am. So I explained I wanted to go to Munich and he sucked air through his teeth in an expression of "expensive!" and then I explained when I wanted to go and he seemed even more alarmed.

So then I said I wanted a railcard if he thought it was worth it and he suggested a BahCard 25 which costs 25EUR for 25% off all fares for four months. I had filled in a form for a BahnCard 50 already so asked if I could use that. I couldn't, and I didn't even need one of the photos I had paid 6 EUR for at a photobooth (and apparently made me look like a 1970s West German terrorist - thanks Mum). He also told me never to put my bank details on a form as anyone could read that and steal my identity! He warned me about this at some length and I started to become more aware that an elderly lady had been waiting all this time.

So I finally decided which train I would take. And I had bought my rail card, after filling in a new form. I said I wanted to pay by card. So I gave the man my card. And he put it in the machine. And I entered my PIN. And it was wrong. So I treid again. And got it wrong again. So tried a thrid time. And still didn't get it right. "Credit card?" he suggested, so I used my British bank card and tried not to think about the commission.

So finally I had managed to pay and I pulled the seat out for the elderly lady who had been waiting all that time. I apologised profusely. I went to the other counter to get my free timetable book. It is over 1000 pages long. And then I asked to buy tickets to the Buchmesse. And while I was buying them, who needed to buy something from the counter? The elderly lady who had been waiting all this time! I could not apologise enough and offered her my seat but she said she would rather stand. So I said I would pay cash and half my coins fell out of my purse and over the counter. I started to apologise again and the woman on the counter remarked "Today is not your day."  "Genau." I replied. "Exactly."

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