Sunday, September 20, 2009


I almost caused a bomb scare in Berlin. I was mad hungry at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, waiting for my train to Amsterdam. My duffle bag weighed as much as five toddlers and the food joints were down the stairs. I also needed cash. The ATM was also down the stairs. I set my duffle on the platform and scurried to the floor below. I guess I didn't need to rush after all 'cause the guy ahead of me in the queue seemed to be consulting the ATM for mortgage advice. Or something. After a good five minutes of impatient huffing I finally got my chance to stuff some Euros in my money clip. I bought some food at LE CROBAG, which has a croissant in the logo but I didn't get a croissant.

Up the stairs. I recognised the back of the large female Hbf employee whose name tag read C. Wirtz and who had helped me earlier: "Ja, Platform 13 to Amsterdam." Now she was talking into a cell phone and still wearing her nifty cap. She was staring at the ground, a large perimeter of passengers' feet keeping clear of the area where her gaze fell. I walked straight into the middle. She hung up. "Is that your bag?"
"Yeah," I panted.
"You can't leave your bag!"
She thrust her head at me and exploded her arms, "It could be a BOMB!"
Shit. She's allowed to say that out loud?
"But my bag is so heavy and I am so hungry..."
"I called the police."
Shit. I showed her my LE CROBAG bag of packaged salad that had corn niblets nestled between tomato chunks.
"You can't leave your bag."
"Sorry. Danke," I pleaded. She walked away, leaving me alone with my duffle and the disdain from a horde of Germans tsk-tsking at the strange Chinese kid who speaks North American. I'm glad I was wearing my sunglasses. I heaved my sack over my shoulder with an exaggerated oof! to let them know I wasn't playing around when it came to heavy duffles. I trudged down Platform 13, down down down, far far far from them all. At least I'd managed to get my salad for the ride, and it had corn.

The Hbf woman approached me on her surveillance beat. She gave me a pursed smile and wagged her finger. I smirked back, sheepish and foreign. Her name was probably Claudia.

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