Thursday, 5 September 2013

Underneath it all

Arriving in Germany, it took us a while to get used to seeing a rather diverse bunch of people, presenting themselves in a way I'm really not used to, despite hanging out at Red Door on the odd occasion.

It's not uncommon to find people looking a little like this outside the Cathedral... usually with very well-kept hair, doing very little and accompanied by a beer and their dogs.

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 I'll be quite frank and say that at first they scared me. (though large groups of people generally tend to intimidate me regardless) They can sometimes be a little aggressive/suggestive as one passes and even today we passed by as a girl threw a full but open beer can at a guy, while screaming at him - German has never sounded scarier!
It's also quite common to see tattoos or piercings in places I never thought possible, on quite young girls especially....

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So coming from a place where 16 year olds are wearing uniforms and are limited in their piercing options, and where the only guys I ever saw that could dress with chains and long hair to work were pizza-delivery guys, I found myself a little uncomfortable. I tried not to make assumptions, despite what movies and media suggested. 
Why should a way of dressing or a choice in piercing or tattoos define a person's character? 

A few incidents in the last few months have definitely "enlightened" me and I found myself questioning those stereotypes and realising that behind the piercings and black clothes, underneath the crazy hair and inked skin, are people that are really not that much different to others. Despite the tough exterior, I found some pretty sweet-sounding people. 

I'll share two such encounters that come to mind... I hope they'll brighten your day as they did mine! 

One day, standing on a train platform waiting, there was an old lady that was lost and trying to figure out where to go. She asked me for help but I couldn't understand and didn't know how to help. So she went to the next person; a pierced and tattoo'd guy in his 30s with a shaved head and leather jacket. He was so kind to her! He took her to the board to show her what to do, and then rode with her to the next stop to show her the next connection she needed. Last I saw of them, he was with her talking to some train-driver-people and asking them for help. 

Another day, I was standing on the tram and there was an old man in a wheel chair and across from him, a young man in skinny jeans and peroxide-blonde hair, carefully examining his reflection in the window and smoothing out the spikes in his hair. We arrived at Appelhofplatz and the old man made a joke along the lines of "appelhof oder Apfelhof... oder apfelkuchen!" The young man laughed a little, and the old man asked if he likes apfeltorte. What ensued was a conversation between the two about apple cake and apple strudel, with cream or ice-cream, and the little sprinkles over. By the time I got off the train, they'd moved onto discussing chocolate cakes. 

It's so refreshing, when stereotypes are broken, isn't it?
Makes me want to go regae-singing the chorus of "underneath it all" to the group hanging out at the cathedral... who's with me? ;)

12 comments:

  1. Erica, these are such sweet stories! It is always so nice to see diverse groups of people interacting in totally fun and delightful ways. I feel like baked goods always bring people together :)

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    1. I agree! Everybody MUST have something to say about baked-stuff, and of course eating it together is a winner too :)

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  2. I love seeing stereotypes broken and seeing people surprise you in good ways! When I was in beauty school, I think I surprised a lot of my clients--by talking with them about their overseas travels, or, on rare occasions, speaking with them in their native Mandarin or Spanish. People don't expect that from someone attending beauty school! :P It can be fun to surprise people, too.

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    1. Me too! Always really refreshing :) That's a pretty cool surprise-factor you have there, must be fun! :)

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  3. There are a lot of metal heads in Germany just like the States. We are friends with some of them here. Do you ever notice that they never play metal on the radio though? It's all American pop music. Bad music.

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    1. There are SO few where I come from... so I had no idea how to relate. I've noticed that about the radio though... I've stopped listening to it actually :/

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  4. I completely agree. To be honest, some of my closest friends now I did not have a great first impression. I'm glad I tried to overlook a few things, and now we are great friends. I believe that everyone is much more than what you may think in the first few minutes!
    http://liveitinerantly.com

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    1. First impressions definitely leave much to uncover! (now why don't job-interviewers get that...?)

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  5. love these sweet stories. it can definitely be easy to judge someone by their looks, but most people will surprise you for sure!
    -- jackie @ jade and oak

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    1. Oh definitely! Like yesterday there was this middle-aged man, dressed in jeans and just a t-shirt, standing outside the cathedral singing opera... on meeting him I'd never imagine that!

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  6. That is too funny! They always make me nervous when I'm at the train station, but maybe now I'll ask them about apfelkuchen ;)

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    1. Haha... yeah just go ask "was essen sie gern mit apfelkuchen?" and see their faces light up ;)

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