This story was contributed by Brian Radvansky. Check out his blog, Striving for Greatness.
While the other utterly square students in our study abroad program were practicing verb conjugations in our slumlord-governed apartments, KT and I were buying drugs from the Turks in the park and smuggling mushrooms from the Netherlands.
After 5 weeks of studying German and drinking brown liquor, it was time to hit the road and see the rest of Europe. We wheeled our collective 120 lbs. of luggage to the train station to take the 10:26 from Berlin to Munich.
On the platform, it was 10:20. Then 10:25. And 10:30. At 10:45, we realized something was up. Germans are NEVER late. This train was not coming. Using our rudimentary language skills at the information desk, we learned the train had been rerouted to the other side of town and would arrive at 12:13. We arrived at the new station around 11:30 and presented our tickets at the desk.
“Nein! Kein Zug am Abend!,” the attendant screamed at us. The corners of the letters he spat were physically striking us. He explained the next train would be leaving at 5:26 AM. Frustration set in, for we had six hours to kill. We’d just walked a few miles dragging enormous suitcases, and were tired and dejected.
We rented a locker and stuffed our things inside, then ducked into the first bar we could find, happy to see the “Open till 4 AM” sign outside. The bartender empathized with our cause, giving us the first round for free. “We vills stay opened past four ifs you guyez vant to stay here and the drinking!”
Drink we did. Euros started to look more like Monopoly money with each Pilsner. We moved from German beer to fine scotches, expensive shots, and cocktails. We bought shots for the bartender, a few cute girls, and later for ugly girls.
Eventually it was time to go. Just as we were ready to pay the bartender went into the back room. KT asked, “Brain, you just want to bail?” We sprinted out the door and towards the station. The drizzle had grown into a maelstrom, adding to the drunken drama. When I was convinced we had escaped, I ripped open my soaking collared shirt like a young German Hulkster and spun it in the air above my head. KT let out his rebel yell.
As we high-fived, my excitement turned to fright. “KT,” I said, “The key was in my shirt pocket.” My shirt, or pieces of shirt, lay in the puddles with no key in sight. We dropped to all fours and searched underneath the streetlights desperate not to miss another train because of our unobtainable luggage. After a few minutes KT found the key.
A voice screamed in broken English, “Hey guyez! What is your ideas? You have yet pay!” We saw the bartender. He stood, cell phone in hand, ready to call the Polizei.
KT cooly responded, “It’s cool man. My buddy lost the key. He freaked out, I came here to get him. How much do we owe you?”
“It’s 195 Euros!”
We paid, happy the Polizei were not getting involved. You saw what the Germans did to the Jews…
We walked on towards the station, broke with a drop of guilt. We had a nine-hour train ride on zero hours sleep with the inevitable hell of a hangover.
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