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Betriebsfremd

It was Friday afternoon, it had been a hard week, and all I wanted to do was go home. But no trains were running southbound from Hamburg. The tracks had been closed "due to a betriebsfremde person on the tracks", meaning a non-rail employee. And this during Friday rush hour. The platform filled with waiting passengers for the next 30 minutes, then the tracks were cleared and the trains started running again.

The following Monday morning, it was cold and I was running late. I arrived at our commuter station, but no trains were running. The tracks to Hamburg were blocked for an unexplained reason, so the local train wasn't running at all, and the regional had to take a roundabout route and was running late. So I ran late.

We later heard from our Tagesmutter that the daughter of her cleaning lady had thrown herself in front of a train that morning. I then realized what the station announcer had meant by a "betriebsfremde person on the tracks".

The cleaning lady was someone I had exchanged pleasantries with on Thursday afternoons. Hello, how are you, I'm here to pick up my son. She's black, I assume from Ghana, I assume with unclear immigration status. An asylum seeker, mayber? She seemed happy. I never gave her a second thought. I never stopped to think that she might have children, or a daughter who was unhappy, so unhappy that she saw no future except in front of a speeding train.

She wasn't there last Thursday afternoon. If I ever see her again, I won't know what to say to her.

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