And Now It Is All Over ... (9€ Ticket)


And Now It Is All Over ... (9€ Ticket)

(The photo is tagged ... bite me)

You would think that Germany would have extended through the weekend, so we could have eased back into the way things were. Of course not. Let us just transition in the most chaotic way. Let us do it in the middle of the week. In the same way everything has been so-called eased for the past three fucking years. Egal. It is over and there is no extension or replacement. We are back to the archaic method of actually planning travel and buying tickets on the fly that take however long to validate so we can be controlled for non-compliance. And I was really getting the hang of it without all of the thinking. Most of us really enjoyed that brief moment in time and that is why it had to end. We got way too comfortable and we all know Germany doesn't like the c word. 

If there is anything that we learned from this experience/experiment is that Covid isn't as bad as they say it is. At least not when confined for long periods of time with a lot of people in a metal tube. Surely, there were mask protocols but on these packed 9€ journeys only about 75% of people adhered. Typically, the 25% who chose not to wear a mask were sitting right beside me. I still haven't gotten it but I also do not have friends. Certainly, the endemic is still quite problematic and deaths are still a thing but DeutscheBahn must have some sort of immunity. Maybe you could only contract it if you used the restrooms which I avoided all summer long. I even avoided paid restrooms in train stations because ... I hate people. The 9€ ticket brought out all the people. Particularly, those people with weak bladders and or hungover next day döner bubble guts. 

The rules were so simple with this ticket that it was impossible to mess it up. You could take most any regional train to most anywhere within Germany. You could venture to the icy beaches of Sylt for the heck of it or to the wooded depths of Bavaria for wandering. You just had to travel on regional and localized trains which cancelled out special express and ICE routes. You could always combine things if needed which saved you a lot more money than the usual sparpreis. You could also take advantage of low ridership on the excluded trains which meant better prices and more accessible seats if you preferred that. For me it was more or less about going where I normally went but without having to fumble for a wallet and or phone to get there. All I had to do to get on a local bus was flash whatever QR code. Not a single driver for three months actually looked at my digital ticket. I think on the trains it happened two or three times. The controlling stopped. In fact, most seemed annoyed you would even attempt to show the ticket. You were beckoned to get on and get seated as there were a lot more people riding than usual. Before June the bus here was like a private chartered ride at my disposal every 30 minutes. Now I was a burden to carry along with other souls with their cheap ticket. One day I even had to stand in a throng like I was poor. Trust me, I am looking forward to VIG status again. 

Who am I kidding? I have mostly always had VIG status because I am Black. Even in the age of the 9€ ticket and packed buses and trains, no one will sit next to me. And I am not alone which worked in our favor this summer. No matter how packed the train was, I was typically afforded a seat because there was a Black or brown person with three empty ones surrounding them. We all banded together as those impaired, elderly and or pregnant but very white or other refused to sit with us. We greeted each other, we made light conversation and we had eye gestures for all the times we were avoided as a seating option. The only bad thing about this is having people who refused to sit next to you ultimately choose to stand beside you with their crotch in your face. I also witnessed plenty of people lean or squat on our possessions versus ask if the seat was available. I would have gladly removed my purse or shopping if you simply asked was the platz frei. But you know we speak African or whatever unknown language so even politely asking is out of the question. And that is fine by me and I think all of us would agree. 

Living in a small village, my journey was long which meant start and end of route travels. I could typically access the train earlier than others anyways unless I myself was late to arrive. In bigger cities at peak hours there was a sort of queue. But we all know Germans do not know how to queue properly. My secret joy is cutting whatever line the way most Germans do in a when in Rome fashion. All those people standing on the platform are easy targets as the train doors never line up where everyone is. This allowed me to sit and eat eis from this cute lil artisanal shop and then run in front of everyone when the train arrived. Then I could sit maskless for a few minutes finishing my eis becher. This also helped evade people as they expected me to be unruly and messy. They would all appear shocked when I properly disposed of my bowl, sanitized my hands and proceeded to double mask. Then I would enjoy my long journey as the train emptied along the way reading or updating my calendar like a civilized person. I would maintain my personal space and never give up my seat. Those who stand or sit on stairs just don't have the proper amount of assimilated mut like a German. Standing by, saving face and or being polite is unruly and messy in the staring eyes of a echter Deustcher. 

Another great lesson I learned was to always sit next to or adjacent to a tall person. You could gesture to them to go ahead and stretch as you used the seat in front to hold things. Then if those people running from car to car frantically looked at you for a seat you could point at the long, stretched legs of your seatmate and hurry them along. I will continue to use this tactic going forward. It has proven to be the best option and every time you sit next to a tall person they look so surprised. It is the ultimate chess move when everyone else is playing checkers. Of course do not do this on a four seater with a table cause then you'll play footsies. The ideal place is when a tall person sits in the accessible seating. This way you have ample room and you are also being very German about not letting people who need those seats actually use them and you have an excuse that requires no talking. It is him or her not me! Do not confuse this with the business man or the tourist with luggage. Those fuckers will make you miss your stop. Never sit with someone's gigantic luggage they typically only have two wheels on and never sit next to the guy who has to pack his home office up for you to escape during your stop. 

The most missed part about the 9€ ticket will be not thinking. There was so much pleasure in ignoring maps, pricing and times. If I missed my stop oh well I'll just catch a ride on the other side. Not too sure where something is well let me go on an adventure anyways. Should I get a 1B or a Kurzstrecke who cares I don't need to think about stops or zones. I had so much more patience and I also felt so relaxed. I am going to Köln this weekend and the anxiety I have about getting from point a to point b on a single ticket is so high. When living there I bought 24 hr tickets and planned my outings around them so I didn't have to overthink my journeys. This time around I think I am going to get a 5 person one just to never have to worry about my friend and I and the occasional Schwarzrider. It occurred to me that getting around especially with a suitcase really shouldn't involve counting stops and questioning what part of the city I was in. I want the freedom of not thinking like I've done all summer long. 

The shittiest part is knowing that we did it for 9€ and it can be done ... forever. That transport can be affordable and easy. That we really do not have to get in line every first of the month for a pass or constantly refresh a dodgy third party app to make sure our ticket is validated in time. We now know the 365 ticket is a joke and that the DB app can work in our favor when deciding what means to take to get where. We have all realized assigned or reserved seats are sort of stupid and that Klasse 1 only features a glass partition. Why would we ever go back to the way it was ... in our hearts and minds? I think people are going to fight the system and for a long while it could get crazy. Surely, the inspectors will be out in droves this weekend trying to fight offenders and lots of people will drop their abo having finessed better methods when commuting. I mean if regional trains worked better than ICE ones or 2nd Class met your expectations why go back to the way it was? If anything the 9€ ticket did was opened our minds to how silly and flawed the system is no matter how convenient or consistent it was. It may have not been forever but it could be a catalyst for future change. But at the end of the day, I am just a lowly Hausfrau who only goes to the Markt and back home and I am Black and under 170cm hohe.