Social etiquette in a Berlin subway

It is Thursday, nearly 7pm and I am sitting in the subway, tired, grumpy, In front of me, a men, unfazed by the world around him, trying out all his ringtones, all of them, the volume up on Spinal Tap levels. Everyone looks at him, looks around, for some savior who might step in and approach him, ask him to “(ring)tone it down” but no one does, everyone just staring at each other, staring at him, looking away. Because, you see, what kind of person sits there, with their headphones in one ear but the other ear clearly aware of the fact that he’s trying out all of his ringtones over and over again in full Spinal Tap volume level to the misery of at least 20 people in earsight. What kind of person sits there, not even blushing, not even looking? Now, he might just excuse himself and turn down the volume but this is a subway in Berlin. He might just as well shout, scream, get vulgar or say things no one understands, wild conspiracies under a shining tin foil, spit flying, arms flaying.

So, we sit and look around, nearly scared of someone to step up because what kind of person would step up to face this probability of subway madness? Someone equally if not more so unfazed by societies etiquettes, someone willing to turn a parade of ringtones into a subway brawl. But it’s Thursday, nearly 7pm, we’re all tired. So we think: only 3 more stops, only 10 minutes, only 26 more ringtones until I can step into the cold, awful smelling night and hum one of the ringtones – surely the most annoying one – till I get home.

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