The Unkindness of Strangers

I travelled from Höxter back to Berlin on Saturday, taking the bus from Hannover onwards. It was more difficult than I anticipated, having to navigate the crowded station with luggage one-handed. I usually have a sling pouch in addition to a backpack on me, and it is no problem. This time, since I am under doctors orders not to burden the neck or shoulder any further, I piled the pack onto the suitcase and rolled around. Then I needed to use the facilities, which was a major complication. It was difficult enough to do so in the hotel or training room with the arm in a sling, while wearing pants, which prompted me to wear a dress for the trip back in the hope things would be easier.

Well, it was the first time I got to use the handicapped toilet, but the janitor in charge was neither pleasant nor helpful when I rang the bell to request the use thereof. The look of disdain when he appeared was humiliating and infuriating alike, but he changed his tone ever so slightly when he saw my arm. But at least I was able to roll my luggage in and figure the rest out in peace and quiet. Why there are huge mirrors directly in front of the toilet seat I will never understand, and it made me very uncomfortable.

The walk from the train station to the bus station is a matter of meters, and it really is no big deal, but when my coordination and concentration are off, it becomes a bit of an adventure. I had plenty of time to kill, and ordinarily I would have spent it blogging and writing, but typing with one hand is a pain, and so is texting. I am able to do so in the comfort of home where I am allowed to take off the sling for a few hours, otherwise, it stays on. At least I had a good seat and could do some people watching.

The Flixbus was delayed by 50 minutes due to storms along the way. In a span of the 90-minute wait I watched seven people pass by to scavenge through all the garbage bins in the station. This would not have surprised me in Asia, but the rising number of people in Germany doing dumpster diving is alarming. I thought it was a Berlin phenomenon, but I have been observing it in Hamburg, Bremen and now Hannover. It is not just symptomatic of the metropolitan areas, but a definite sign of the rising cost of living here and complicated social infrastructure.

The bus eventually rolled in, and I lined up to hand over my luggage. Neither the conductor nor driver standing there offered to put my luggage in the compartment. When I asked for help lifting my suitcase, the driver simply pointed to a lower area, in spite of seeing my condition. He even had the gall to complain that I placed it in wrong. By the time I settled into my seat I was close to tears with anger and frustration, not to mention pain. A fitting manner to closing an awfully disappointing week.

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