On a sudden whim, I booked a flight to Berlin. It was late at night when I landed at Berlin Schoenefeld Airport and the last S-Bahn for the day was teeming with commuters from all walks of life. Most were drowsy with sleep when a group of four teenagers entered the train and blasted loud techno music from their portable radio. They made such a racket that the commuters fixed disapproving stares in their direction but no one acted on their disgruntlement. The moment the train arrived at my stop, I weaved my way quickly amongst the crowd that was spilling out of the train. I could not wait to be rid of the noise that was pounding my fragile eardrums.
Once on the streets, I pored over my map to find a way to my hostel. It did not help that the lighting was dim and I got lost several times due to my unfamiliarity of the area. In my futile search for discernible street signs to locate myself on the map, I espied several teenagers heading my way. They were swigging bottles of beer. One even smashed his on the sidewalk near a stationary car and chortled at the smithereens scattered all over the pavement.
The sight of the drunken teenagers instantaneously set off warning bells in my mind. Hoping to avoid any trouble, I turned around as inconspicuously as possible and was about to move off when one of them slurred in a mixture of German and English, “Miss, you’re goiiiiing in the wrong direction. The hosttttel should be this way.”
I stopped in my tracks but before I could think of a solution to extricate myself from the situation, one of them swiped the map from my hand and pointed at a name printed on it. “You’re here,” he muttered before gesturing at the street sign above us. In spite of the strong tang of alcohol emitted from his breath, he appeared perfectly sober. “Continue down this street and turn left at the second junction. You’ll see the hostel you’re looking for.”
Without waiting for my reply, he whistled at his buddies and they took off, resuming their mindless activity of smashing the remaining bottles on the sidewalk. Despite the mixed feelings I had about their behavior, I did manage to find my way to the hostel with his instructions.