Sunday: After a good night’s sleep and my first cup of tea down, I feel ready to tell last night’s story. I went out to meet two 2012 Smithies. One is American, graduated from Smith, and returned to Hamburg to her clinical job she had while abroad junior year. The second is a German native who came to Smith to study American Studies for a year as a graduate student (another one of Smith’s great programs.) We had a great time chatting about everything under the sun and trying Hamburg’s own Alsterwasser (a mix of beer and Sprite, quite delicious, yet to be determined if the gluten content affects me,) and reminiscing about Smith. We live off in the same direction and took the number 3 bus together, and I got off before them to change buses. I am quite familiar with the 20/25 that I was switching to and felt fine; I knew where I was. At the stop, I had over 10 minutes to wait and wandered into the Kiosk there. I bought a tin of Turkish loose leaf Earl Grey (drinking at the moment, not the best, still a cultural experience,) and then still had time and was freezing, so I went into the Döner (kebab) place next door for Pommes (french fries).
While I waited, I pondered the curious use of mayonnaise instead of ketchup, also known as Pommes Sauce, and how obsessed Germans are with it. I ordered mine withMayo and pretended to be a true German. The bus came, I pulled out my pass and flashed it to the driver, and walked toward the back of the bus. Saturday night, bus full of more-drunk-than-usual Germans, and I found myself face-to-face with a grinning guy in this late 20s, saying sarcastically in German, “You didn’t hear him, right?” I realized I was in the middle of a group of 6-10 guys his age, who were all laughing at me, joking that they would help me eat my fries. I realized from them and the bus driver trying to talk to me (he was an overweight younger guy, speaking in a low voice that comes with driving late-night weekend buses and dealing with drunks,) that I wasn’t allowed to have Pommes on the bus. Amidst supportive, sarcastic, and rowdy comments from the guys, I hopped off. They yelled after me, ‘no stay, we’ll help you eat them and hold the bus!’ I was too embarrassed to know what to do and I walked off. The next bus wasn’t for 25 minutes; I wasn’t going to stand around that long in this cold, so I started walking. Knowing the bus route (straight shot, about three or four stops) was key, as was having run the street times before. On my solitary, dark walk home, I was thankful that I felt safe, but thought about the no food on the bus. I’ll have to ask someone, because at least once a day, someone is drinking beer on public transportation- and all hours of the day at that. I made it home even before the next bus could pass me, still puzzling about the things you learn.