Commuter Adventures: Tattoos, Torn Jeans & Ticket Police

Light and Shadow of Modern Society ©MTHerzog

Maybe it is a generation gap or my conservative Asian upbringing, perhaps even the fact that I lived in cities where tattoos were usually associated with street gangs and crime, but I have trouble accepting the full-limb tattoos that seem to be very common these days. If people choose to tattoo their chest or backs and these parts remain covered for the better part of the day, I don’t really care. But I find it very disturbing when I have entire arms, legs, necks and hands fully tattooed facing me. Getting a tattoo is a very personal choice, and it is not my place to tell anyone what to do or not to do. However, I utterly fail to understand why people insist on turning their bodies into canvases for tattoo collages that they will have to live with the rest of their lives. Winter was fine when everyone in the subway and bus was so bundled up that you couldn’t see the offending artwork, but now that the layers are shedding and lighter and shorter clothing is emerging, the tattoos are back in full force. It doesn’t help that social media is encouraging this either, like this recent entry on Bored Panda.

Then again, I prefer to sit out a long commute facing a myriad of tattoos instead of being seated across from, or next to people with torn jeans. There used to be a time when torn jeans were a sign of wear and tear, a certain status quo of frugality. My mother would not stand for holes or thin patches in jeans and would mend the gaps immediately. Nowadays, however, people are tearing up their perfectly good jeans on purpose, cutting holes in them in the most bizarre places. The holes on the knees I still manage to understand, but the holes right beneath the butt cheeks? or about an inch below the bikini line? This even in winter! Why? Why expose flesh in such a distasteful manner? I often come across people with very fashionable upper body clothing and accessories who ruined the entire look with these cut out holes in the jeans. To me it just looks cheap and vulgar. Hip and cool is something else.

This morning, while fuming over more torn jeans around me and odd head tattoos that I spotted, the subway ticket police / transportation security boarded the train. This usually happens at the beginning of the month when people forget to change their monthly tickets or update their payments, so it struck me as odd that they would do it in the middle of the month. But then again, this is probably the time when people grow complacent and will try to get away with a free ride. Bad idea to do so in Berlin because if you get caught without a ticket these days, the fine was jacked up to 60 EUR! The little boy seated beside me on this way to school panicked when asked to show his ticket, and was on the verge of tears. He had forgotten his ticket at home, or so he claimed, and was trying to text his mother to scan it and send it over the phone, which was not acceptable to the police. My heart went out to the poor boy who couldn’t have been more than nine years old. I sat quietly and watched the exchange unfold. After a stern scolding, and explaining to the boy why a picture of the ticket would not be valid, the ticket comptroller let him go and warned him to carry the ticket tomorrow.

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