Being Treated Un-Fare-ly

| Germany | Friendly | January 22, 2016

(I like the metalhead that I am: Mostly black, combat boots with the pant legs tucked into them, worn-out band t-shirt. The only thing that doesn’t fit the cliché is my shaved head, which is the look I kept after I left the Army. After an evening seminar, to which I was allowed to bring my dog, a large lab mix, I wait for the tram to go home. I try to not bother anyone by standing a bit further away and making my dog sit between my legs, but since he’s young and distracted by something on the ground, it takes a few tries. When he finally stays down, I hear another passenger close by scoff. I give him a resigned “what-can-you-do”-smile.)

Passenger: *slurring a bit* “There’s a ticket machine over there.”

Me: “Thank you, I know.”

Passenger: *scoffs* “Typical.”

(I raise an eyebrow at this, but don’t otherwise react. After a while, he starts complaining loudly to what seems to be a friend, glancing at me every once in a while. His friend seems a bit uncomfortable during this.)

Passenger: “No wonder the ticket prices are so high, with that many fare-dodgers around.”

(Since I continue to ignore him, he finally turns to me and eyes me up and down, and not in a curious way.)

Passenger: “What are you supposed to be anyway?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Passenger: “I don’t get you ‘people.’ Wearing boots and that necklace, what are you, some kind of Nazi?”

Me: *I look down at the neck-chain that I’m wearing* “Oh, that’s a Thor’s

Hammer; you know, from the Norse mythology? Supposed to help you overcome obstacles and ward you against evil by giving you strength. Pretty standard-issue ornament in parts of the metal scene.” *I emphasize the last few words, pointing at my band shirt*

Passenger: “Is it also standard-issue for your kind to not pay?”

Me: *frowning* “My kind? What kind? Student, male, dog owner, metalhead, caucasian? Look, I got a ticket, all right?”

Passenger: *sarcastically* “Right, of course you do.” *to his friend* “F****** punks should be swept of the street. F****** leeches, that’s what they are.”

Passenger’s Friend: “Be quiet, will you? Leave him alone.”

(The other one gets quite agitated, it becomes pretty apparent that he’s drunk.)

Passenger: “No! The f****** semester tickets cost more every semester, and it’s because of f*****s like him who don’t pay!” *turning to me* “If there’s an inspector on this tram, I’ll report you at once!”

Me: *sighing* “Has it occurred to you that I might have a semester ticket myself? I’m even getting on the tram at the college’s stop.”

Passenger: *laughing sarcastically* “You? The way you look, you might be one of those people who only have a dog so they can get more money from begging. Or mug people.”

(By now my dog has taken a dislike to that passenger; he can tell this guy isn’t friendly, so he stiffens up and lets out a low growl. I calm him down.)

Passenger: “Control your f****** mutt or I’ll kick you both on the rails. You’re pathetic.”

(Finally on the tram, he stays true to his word and reports me to a ticket inspector who skips a few other passengers to get to me. I’m standing away from other passengers, again with my dog between my legs.)

Inspector: *professionally cool* “Good evening. May I see your ticket, please?”

Me: “Sure, here you go.”

Inspector: *just taking a short glance, not really reading it* “I was told you were being belligerent?”

Me: “Let me guess. The blonde guy with a green bag who told you I was dodging the fare? Yeah, that guy also threatened me to kick my dog and me onto the rails because of the way I look.”

Inspector: “All right, thank you.” *points at my shirt, not breaking character* “Good band, by the way. I like their [album name] the best.”

Me: “I prefer [different album]. I like the way they experiment with Oriental influences on that one.”

Inspector: “All right, I’ll get this sorted.”

(“Sorting” meant to kick the guy who threatened me off the tram. His friend, however, decided to stay on.)

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