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Fare dodging is one of these small offenses that many people in Germany don’t find that bad at all. All excuses aside (and there are a lot of them around, everybody always tries to reason away this actually being wrong…) the reason for the increased amount of fare dodgers might come with the insane amount of money privatized public transport is demanding lately.

So of course some people get a bit creative when trying to dodge fares without getting punished for that. One case that has just gotten out of courts actually had a fascinating reasoning behind it: the legal terminology for dodging fares in German law is “Leistungserscheichung” which might be translated as “obtaining something surreptitiously”.

Now everybody always was kind of sure that meant any kind of fare dodging. After all, if you were going to dodge a fare, was there any way but doing it, well, in secret? Surreptitiously as the dictionary says?

Turns out yes, technically there is a way: Seeking refuge in audacity. Tell the conductor beforehand that you are going to go without a ticket. Show openly that you are not paying and still ride the train.

That theory was put to test in court a few days ago. One guy decided to try the idea and rode on the subway wearing a t-shirt saying “Ich fahre schwarz” (I’m fare dodging). And then tried to take it to the court when he got caught.

He lost though. The nice idea aside, the court said, but just wearing the shirt was not enough (the conductors said they didn’t even notice it), but he would have had to tell the ticket vendor at the station AND the conductor when he boarded the train. Then of course he could have used the train without paying the fare. If both of them had let him do that at least. Which they were pretty unlikely to do.

So the reasoning obviously was valid (he would have been allowed to ride without paying IF only…) but the execution was flawed.

Written by G. Neuner

26. February 2010 at 12:21 am

Posted in Odd, Travel

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Phrasebook Misery

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Anna Etmanska from the Transparent Language Polish Blog in her latest post points out some facts that have bugged me as well for a long time:

Take any random phrasebook (any language will do) and look inside. You will see a whole bunch of very useful expressions that, no doubt, are essential to your survival in a foreign land. Phrases such as: “Where is the national museum?” (Yeah right, like you are really going to understand the answer. A lot easier to look up the museum on google maps before you leave home) or “Can I have it in red, please?” (at H&M you can find it yourself, and if you’re the type who frequents high end stores, chances are the staff will speak some English, even in France) or “I’d like to exchange these traveler’s checks” (just use a bank card, will you?).

So it’s not only me! Other people ask those questions as well! What audience are all those sentences in phrasebooks (not only Polish ones but all of them) actually for?! In any of those books there will be loads of sentences which might be important in everyday communication, but you basically can’t use them. Because you won’t understand the answer the other person will b giving you. The way to the museum might be shown with hands and feet if nothing else helps, but ask the lady at the ticket counter when and where the bus is going from and you will have a problem.

I remember one Polish phrasebook in particular that had a page on relationships. Phrases were going from: “Do you want to go out with me?” up to “Do you want to marry me?” and my personal favorite in this list “I think it doesn’t work with us two anymore!”. A whole relationship condensed onto one single page. Only: who will ever need that?

I mean, what are you even doing in a relationship where you have to break the bad news in a language you don’t even speak? I mean, how did you talk to each other before?!

Written by G. Neuner

9. June 2009 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Travel

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PKP Adventures

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I think if I actually keep on travelling to other countries by train this little shout-out might become something more common in this still young and forming blog. And I actually like travelling by train in Poland. It beats bus, car and plane by far in terms of comfort and price.

But I had some, lets call them “experiences”,  with  employees of the Polish train company PKP the last few days. And I don’t even mean the one in Wroclaw who refused to believe that a station like Lodz Kaliska could exist for real [it, uhm,  is one of Poland’s most important stations in Poland’s second biggest city…]. But she was using a calculator as well to check if the numbers the computer gave her as the price to pay actually were correct. So I don’t really blame her.

I don’t mean the conductor who wanted to throw me off the train in the middle of nowhere because I had bought student tickets without a proper Polish student identity card. I think my very broken Polish rescued me here as she went to her superior to get me thrown off, and he/she told her off. Because as a citizen of the EU I am allowed to have reductions just as a Polish citizen would have them. Things like this actually are the thing which make me like the EU very much…

No, the weirdest, and the most mind-boggling of them, was the argument we had with the ticket vendors in Lodz Kaliszka. The train I wanted to take was a regional train which ended in Frankfurt an der Oder, just behind the Polish-German border. Which is actually pretty smart, because the station in Slubice, on the Polish side, is a small endpoint in the middle of nowhere, with no ticket vendors or whatsoever. Anyone who is going that far would normally want to cross the river towards Germany anyway.

But according to the salespersons (and at one point there were three of them arguing with us), this would make it an international train, and international train tickets are sold seperately. The office for international tickets on the other hand didn’t want to sell us the ticket as the train was a regional one, and they had no right or possibility to sell it. Oh the insanity…

This reminds of a book I really like. It’s called Catch 22.

Written by G. Neuner

5. January 2009 at 12:54 am

Posted in Travel

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