The other 1%

 

50 cents a ride. #yourmum


Stan and I are a great team. He ploughs along the roads like a little two-wheeled tank, coping with all the potholes and cobbled streets, surging forth with minimal wobbliness. I take him everywhere and buy him nice things like a brand new lime-green bike light. He’s enough of a squat little beast that no-one in their right mind would steal him. I know he will be there tethered up at the end of the day, right where I left him. 

On Saturday I chained up my bike Stan outside Kaisers next to the other bikes and a large sand-coloured dog with a wuffly nose. I popped into the shop, bought a litre of milk, and popped back out again. When I clicked the button on my bike light, a gloopy ectoplasm was all over it. And tooth marks – lots of tooth marks – deep in the SOLID METAL of the bike light housing. I realised that the handy carrying cord had been chewed off and swallowed entirely. With a whimper I stepped back and saw that the rear light had been chewed to smithereens, with the little glass bulb peeping out through mangled shards of red plastic. It was clear that my bike had been dealt a terrific mauling. And when I got onto the saddle, and the back tire slithered around the path like a disemboweled eel, it was obvious that even the back tire had received a hefty chomp. And the dog wasn’t there – in the two minutes it took me to buy some cow juice, the buttface who owned the dog had arrived, seen it savaging my inanimate and fully non-delicious bike for no reason, and simply taken its leash and walked it off home without a word. Well, if you’re reading this, dog owner, I hope it bites your scrotum off.


 

The destructive, inconsiderate wazzocks all over this city are starting to tire me out. The Berliners call them ‘Asis’ (short for asozial) and they simply don’t give a toss. Not about you, not about me, not about anyone. They are the people who have repeatedly nicked my vegetables from my veg patch, dumping the little baby ones besides the bed to shrivel, for no reason. They are the ones who suddenly thwack a bottle to the ground in a startling burst of broken glass, pointlessly and apathetically, in the middle of the day with kids around, for no reason. They grab onto your bike handlebars and go ‘UUGH!’ in your face as you’re slowly pootling along, for no reason. And they often insist on wearing a mullet hairstyle. It’s sheer visual antagonism.

For so long I used to shake my head with a rueful smile and think ‘Ahh, such is this wonderful anarchistic city which I have made my home’ – but now it’s just starting to get on my tits. And maybe it’s partly me; thanks to the fact that I look enormously younger than I am and generally walk around with an expression of vague consternation on my face (it’s nothing personal, that’s just my neutral facial expression), I’m a natural target for people who want to mess around with some random vulnerable human by shouting in their face or screaming ‘F*CK! YOU F*CKING F*CK!’ out of the car window at me when I’m jogging. And admittedly it was a foolish idea to cycle home at 5am recently after a very long, liquid evening, but the two men who threw their drinks over me when I rode past them were probably not doing it to educate me about bicycle safety. And I bet you any money they wouldn’t have done that to a bloke. The following day a whole swathe of them were having some kind of punks-and-fireworks protest outside my local Lidl right when I needed to buy groceries and it’s not unlikely that the drink-chuckers and the chewy-dog-owner were among them. Not to be prejudiced, but why don’t they just all go back where they came from: Wankerville (twinned with Slough).

And so I would like to address the rest of this post directly to you, the Asis, you bastards. Firstly – and perhaps most importantly – ‘long back and sides’ is not nor has ever been an acceptable hairstyle. Please remove your mullet (or skaggy green buzzcut, or disappointing mohican) from my city and take it elsewhere. Preferably outside of this space-time continuum. Secondly, I realise that the Germans invented the term Schadenfreude, but there is a not-subtle difference between secretly slightly enjoying it when  accidentally drops their cake off the train platform and deliberately causing the Schaden (damage) in order to indulge in the Freude (joy). There is no reason at all to do all this pointlessly unpleasant stuff, OR allow your dog to do it while you stand there and grunt with delight. There are so much funnier things out there to enjoy, like Eddie Izzard
or Good Mythical Morning or this film or the mere fact of the existence of a shop called ‘Mister Lady’. It’s a real blow when someone does something to you merely to make you miserable – and soggy, in the case of the drinks incident – and I don’t think I’ll ever quite forget that malicious laugh that echoed behind me as I cycled home feeling dirtied and humiliated.

Although it is true that Berlin feels truly safe, and you can walk home at any time of night with no qualms whatsoever, it’s not a sense of danger that makes this place sometimes err on the dark side. It’s you, the Asis, who would probably never attack a person but wouldn’t think twice about stubbing your ciggie out on their jacket. (Speaking of which, thanks also for the scar on my wrist). It’s like there’s a generous peppering of random school bullies drifting around the city waiting to give some unsuspecting civilian a wedgie. And you’ll never go away; you’re part of the city’s fundamental rebellious atmosphere. Us nerds just have to keep our chin up and let you have your laughs, because no matter how big your dogs are, you are such very small people. Nothing you do will ever stop us getting back on our bikes.

Rose T

Jill of all trades: writer, illustrator, designer, editor, web designer, craft maniac

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