Today was an odd day.
This past fall I bought myself a Jack Wolfskin jacket, thus completing a critical step in the process of becoming fully assimilated into Things German®. When I wear it, I become virtually indistinguishable from the thousands of Germans who wear their jackets every single day.
It’s a nice jacket, perfect for weather that overs just above freezing to just under freezing – which describes much of Berlin’s weather last month.
Now that it’s March, things are warming up – reaching the double digits (Celsius, mind you) – and this morning I had the sudden, awkward, urge to not wear my German assimilating jacket.
Instead I wore my Wyoming Cowboys (Est. 1886) hoodie – something that is definitely not German.
Maybe it was because I now stood out from the crowd, but I found it strange that the very day that I wore something obviously not local, strangers asked me directions three times.
Seriously, I felt like I must have been wearing a sign that said “INFORMATION HERE.”
The first came while I was waiting to catch my bus early this morning. There were two of us standing there, one guy (behaving oddly) wearing a Jack Wolfskin jacket, and me with earbuds in my ear and a Wyoming hoodie. I was the one asked a question: Wo kann ich finden ein bäckerei? (Fortunately an easy question to answer.)
The second came while I was walking down the still-dark Friedrichstrasse, still with earbuds in my ears. A woman walking the other way stopped me with a question: Wo ist Bus 157? (A relatively easy question to answer.)
Random aside: Why is that when you have earbuds in your ear, people ask you questions without waiting for you to take them out? I was visibly fumbling to take them out of my ears when both of these people asked me their questions. I ended up having to ask them to repeat their questions.
Reflecting on my day, while seated on the bus heading toward home, I was asked a third question – this one by a pair of young women tourists: Where is the Wall?
That was a much more difficult question to answer given that despite the fact that we were in East Berlin, at that precise moment I could have pointed in any random direction and been correct maybe 80% of the time – it was south of us, it was west of us, and it was north of us. The only place it really wasn’t, was behind us.
I told them to get off the bus at Potsdammer Platz – there’s a shitty piece of the wall there, along with some guy who will stamp your passport if you’re willing to fork over a few Euro.
Tomorrow I’ll be back wearing Jack Wolfskin.