“Today I’m only traveling by S-Bahn, because otherwise I’ll have nothing to grouse about.” –A Berliner in the aftermath of an S-Bahn drivers’ strike this week

The strike was a limited-time thing: it began at 9 PM on Tuesday and ended at 6 the next morning. That’s not exactly how I conceptualize a strike, but it was apparently enough to mess the entire region up pretty badly the next day. 85-90% of local and regional trains didn’t run, and since the trains stopped cold at 9, they weren’t in the correct locations in the morning, and it took most of the day to get that sorted out. Apparently the passengers who were on the trains at 9 PM had an interesting time playing Boxcar Children.

In addition to the strike, there was construction on one of the (two) tracks on the final leg of my journey to the university. They were running Pendelverkehr (pendulum transport), which means basically that one train acts as a shuttle. The problem with this plan is that that line normally runs every 3 minutes, and with the semester already officially started, it gets relatively full. The Pendelverkehr, in contrast, runs every fifteen minutes, causing the trains to be so crowded that when you get off, you feel like you’ve changed somehow.

I really shouldn’t complain about construction–other recent S-Bahn disruptions were caused by an arson attempt by leftist radicals, someone stealing the cables on the ring line, and a 71-year-old man who, for reasons he will surely explain if/when he recovers, was standing on the U-Bahn tracks and got run over.

Now that things have finally calmed down a tiny bit, I will write a little bit about what’s been going on. In order to explain the uncharacteristically long silence, I direct you to my friend, Thumper.

I took today off in order to give Berlin a chance to redeem itself. It went…ok.
Bright side: I went to the university only one time, checked my language class schedules (got the first choice German and Spanish classes), spoke to no one (avoiding talking to university employees was the single best thing I could have done to improve my day other than win the lottery or learn to fly), blew all the money I had at the Turkish market, and went home. The transit was not super cooperative (two trains weren’t running for no apparent reason, which has been par for the course of late), but at least the Pendelverkehr is gone, and (semi-)regular service has returned.  In the mail was my brand-spanking new German debit card, which comes with an endearing picture of a baby giraffe and a discount on zoo admission. Although I will use the zoo discount exactly never, that baby giraffe will turn any frown upside down. Worth it.

Booked the only free hour on the only free piano at that piano rental place, and went to continue with the Clementi from last time  and revisit another piece  I remember very fondly for providing my excuse to leave the dorm by 6 every morning freshman year, which is how I managed to go weeks without so much as making eye contact with my roommate.

Unfortunately, the second movement will have to wait: due to a bug in the online booking system, another girl came in at 5:45 (each slot starts on the hour) and showed me her confirmation for her 5:00 booking. I showed her mine, and considered chastising her for showing up 45 minutes late, but ultimately left in silence, defeated. Started to track down the proprietor to ask for a make-up hour, but it’s only 3 dollars, and after the last few weeks I would gladly pay 3 dollars to go a whole day without getting yelled at, so that’s exactly what happened.