No Reservation

November 15, 2011

Standing in wait. People everywhere. All frantically look around suspiciously at each other. Palms begin to sweat. Glistening beads of perspiration form at the brow. Eyes dart to and fro. The heart begins to beat anxiously in the chest. Restless legs attempt to stay in place. Strategies begin to form. “How can I beat them?”

Then you see it. It’s approaching. People begin to herd closer together with all their luggage. Elbows begin to be used for their evolutionary intent – knocking people out of the way. This makes boarding Southwest Airlines look like tea time. Then it is noticed that that train that is approaching is already full! Sheer panic begins to break out, though not outwardly. The Germans are much too refined for that. It’s an inward panic that begins to sweep the crowd. “There aren’t enough seats. I paid a lot of money for this ticket. I want a seat.”

The train stops at the platform. Now the real pushing and shoving begins. People with enough luggage to clothe a small country shove their way forward. The poor disembarking passengers fight their way through the chaos. The waiting-to-board passengers hold a collective breath until that final passenger disembarks.

Finally, the last passenger is off. And all hell breaks loose.

Cute little grandma is shoving and cussing. Mothers throw their small children head first onto the train directing them to scramble through legs to find open seats. Italian tourists yell really loudly in Italian, gesturing with gusto in different directions, but then you realize that has nothing to do with boarding. It’s just what Italians do. The French join the stampede because the French don’t ever stand in line. The Spaniards join because they think the bulls are coming. And the Americans stand around looking perplexed because they don’t know how to ride a train and, naturally, don’t speak the language. (You can always pick them out. White running shoes on a fat person).

You get caught up in the crowd, being shoved from every direction. And then you make it. You get on the train. And you see that open seat. But so does that person coming towards you. You are equi-distant from the seat. Who gets to have it?

Depends on who you are. The Germans make an all out dash and pretend they don’t see the other person. Survival of the fittest. The French follow suit. The Italians are too busy yelling to notice there was an empty seat. The Spaniards – well, I’m not sure what they think, and the Americans have just realized that the door to the train is open and perhaps that is an invitation to get on. Upon realizing there are no seats left, they begin to complain loudly.

Welcome to the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) without a reservation.

Disclaimer: the author has been known to use hyperbole when sharing her stories. Please consider much of her posts to be tongue in cheek.

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4 Responses to “No Reservation”

  1. Karen Says:

    Funny post…but just for the record not all Americans are fat and wear white running shoes. Some of us have a nice shape and dress stylishly. As for the Italians, French and Spanish…I’ll let them speak for themselves.

  2. kensajolaw Says:

    Hi Karen,
    Yes, you are correct.:) I, too, belong to the non-overweight, non-white-sneaker-wearing American variety:). But after years in Europe, they are fun to spot. I love my fellow Americans, but boy do I love the stereotype!!!

  3. Monica Says:

    hello sarah, i found your blog by chance (i was looking for a german actor!) but i kept on reading by choice cos your stories are funny. you have that kind of sharp insight on people’s behaviours that only people living abroad have. i’m a foreigner too – it’s been 10 years already since i left eataly for the uk – and to my dismay i’ve become quite british saying sorry at least 20 times a day and having a cappuccino while eating a pizza! 🙂
    i never noticed how loud italian people could be until i met them abroad. though i could recognise them even if they were not talking or waving their hands. how? well, for instance they will be the ones waiting for their friends in front of an entrance, totally blocking the passage for anyone else. or they will be the only ones wearing sunglasses (an expensive brand of course) on a rainy day, or when it’s dark as it can be in the underground. they will be wearing hundreds of layers of clothes next to somebody wearing just a t-shirt. they will be talking about what to eat for lunch and for dinner at 10am, just half an hour after having had their breakfast. i could go on and on till dawn so i’ll stop now. but there’s one thing i must say: opening the windows in the darkness in summer is very european, italians do it for sure (if i was given a penny for every time my grandma shouted “turn the lights off” i’d be rich by now, ahah) and so do french people. i guess we don’t really like the idea of a screen, perhaps it wouldn’t let that wonderful evening breeze in, who knows?my kindest regards, monica

    • kensajolaw Says:

      Hi Monica! Thanks for your comment! It’s so fun hearing other people’s observations! I had no idea other Europeans turned off the lights and opened the windows, too!!! My German friends will be happy to know they aren’t the only ones!

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