Trampen mit Adolf

12 February 2010

Since I was young, I always had a preference for association than of imagination. When I read a book, I would immediatly pick a person out of my direct environment after reading the first couple of descriptive lines introducing a character into the narrative. It could be a close friend, family member, or just a random face from the street that somehow got stores in my subconcious. For some reason, it made more sense to my subconcious to reconfigure my past experiences that to invent new ones. In any case, this could lead to some unfortunate circumstances. I remember I associated one main character if a popular Stephen King novel with a faint aquantance that I would see once a week, tops. As the story progressed though, I felt a totally one sided shared connection with him grow. We had been through so much together, and when he was killed off in the end, I felt an urgent need to buy him a beer and relate this story to him. I felt it as an opportunity to get closer to him, and I also felt as if I invaded his personal liberty as I did not allow him to exert his own personality. I forced on him the character of the book. As you can guess, he is still completly oblivious to his adventures in my mind, 10 years later.

I had a similar experience hitchhiking to Belgium on Monday. I was waiting with a German truck driver for the depot to load up his rig with high-tech audio equipment, and we were already there for a couple of hours. We were talking about unemployement in the east of German, economical reprecussions of the fall of the Wall, etc. And then my driver triggered something. He told me that we shouldn’t ignore the good things the Third Reich did for  the German economy, like constructing the Autobahs.

Barring any political, moral, or personal emotions, his utterance had a big effect on me. Suddenly, his moustache and haircut morphed a bit, or perhaps caught the sunlight at a slightly different angle. And I found myself sitting in the cab of the truck with Adolf Hitler, feeling as uncomfortable as when I last saw Das Untergang, alone and in the dark. And Adolf Hitler continued to talk about his girlfriend that lives in Prague, the time he tried to start a hot stone restaurant in Berlin, or his opinions on parenting. I spend another 10 hours talking to him until he dropped me off at the border. I decilined his exceptionally gracious offer of spending the night with him in his cab, as it was already well past the last train home.

I was shook out of my reverie by a Belgian Turkish truck driver/body builder, with whom I discussed at length the quality of “les meufs en Marseille”, and arrived home in time to be served breakfast by my loving father.

Berlin-Brussels. 20 hours. And this time I was trying to avoid adventure.