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Lost in Translation (in Amsterdam)

8 September 2009 One Comment

I woke up at 9am today. What a horrible morning. To let you know, my normal wake-up schedule is around 2pm, so as you can see 9am is pushing the limits of my abilities. I needed to get my living and working permit in Amsterdam and I had my appointment at 10am. The day started off in the worst possible of ways. It looked cold from my window so I dressed up like a Siberian and went out to find out that it was like 20 degrees Celcius outside. I still don’t have a bike so I had to walk to my appointment, which wasn’t a real problem because it wasn’t too far. Well, it wasn’t far if the appointment was in fact to take place where I thought it should be. Instead, I find out when I get there that I need to go back where I came from, hop on the subway and head across the entire city. I had thoughts of quitting right there and then in that heat and just giving in to the temptations of Amsterdam’s liberties and get lost in another day of doing absolutely nothing productive. But no, I thought, better late than never. Thankfully, I brought a backpack with me so I was able to put my sweater in there and just stay in my wifebeater and t-shirt. Trust me, by the end of the trip, I was walking around barely in a wifebeater and basically almost shirtless. But I’ll get to that later.

So I arrive at the central station and hop on the subway, asking random people which way and what way and all that until one lady told me to go on one subway and then get off in a few stops and hop onto another one and from there it should be another subways and all in all the trip should be 30 minutes, which is damn long in Amsterdam to be on a subway. So I do as she says and get on the subway, however I look at the paper where she wrote out the station I should get off on and it looked like jibberish to me. I ended up following my Robby G instinct and manly logic and checking the metro map, which really came in handy. I got all organized within minutes and got off on the right stop and hopped on another subway to go the other direction. Finally I get to my stop, hungry for any food, but knowing that I had a limited amount of cash on me so I really had to save it for the permit costs, which I thought were 30 Euros.

I get to the permit place two hours late for my appointment and thankfully they still accept me. I sign all the papers and she tells me I need a photo to hand in. I obviously don’t carry spare passport pictures of myself, so she tells me to make haste and go to the station and take a picture in one of the photo booths. That things rips me off for 5 Euros for some stupid pictures and I end up coming back to her telling me that since August 1st of this year the prices of permits have gone up to 41 Euros from 30 Euros. And guess what? I have 40.90 euros. The permit lady had to lend me 10 cents to cover the rest of the price, but that’s just penuts. The real problem was that I was living more than 30 minutes (on subway) away and didn’t have a penny to me. No credit cards, no debit cards, no cash. Time to hustle, I thought. I’m not gonna start tap dancing in the street for money, but damn I was hungry, hot, frustrated, and broke.

I go around looking for some entrance into the station but they’re very serious about barricading their stations in, no joke. In Canada it’s easy to jump the pole and just go in without paying, but here they have glass doors like they have at the airports that you just won’t sneak through. I go around, thinking of some way to pickpocket or something, but realize that it’s not such a good idea especially in a country I’m studying on exchange for which I’ve only been in for two weeks and don’t even know the language. So I pace around and find myself in the tram station some way. And I will tell you now that after today I started believing in luck. Because in some miraculous way, I not only end up at the tram station but I end up hopping on some random tram, hoping the ticket-man doesn’t see me and give me a ticket to pay on top of the fair with the money I obviously did not have. So I stand in the corner of the tram, listening to my headphones, really hoping the ticket-man doesn’t come over. And to my luck, he just passes me by and goes to the next man. But that’s not all, I still didn’t know if I was going the right way. But not even seven minutes since I got onto the tram did I hear a familiar station and hopped off. To my luck and surprise, I was actually a fifteen minute walk away from home. The sun was shining, I took my shirt, stayed in my wifebeater, and listening to some reggae made my way home with a smile on my face. I came home, my roommate was making food, so I got a meal, I was happy, and that’s so far my morning.

I haven’t realized until today, but luck has been on my side for quite a while now, ever since I was a kid, and I never believed in its existence until today. I wonder how many people believe in it and think they have it, because I can bet that the ones that are unlucky probably don’t believe in it.

One Comment »

  • Mark said:

    Already ripping off the government without payign for the tram? That’s great. I like how you tied in luck into the whole story. Lucky indeed.

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