“Have you ever had a wet arse, Herr Schafner?”


The intercom on the slow train from Hof to Leipzig crackled. I slid my suitcase onto the seat next to me and took out my tattered book. A man’s voice spoke with perfect diction:

“For the attention of passengers recently boarded: Due to an act of vandalism, the lavatory at the back of the train is out of order for the foreseeable future.The damage has been caused by a blockage of material which is considered unsuitable for a toilet. Those passengers with the desire to make use of facilities must venture forth to the front of the train where an alternative lavatory is available. However, said lavatory may only be used while the train is stationary. Those with questions about this issue are advised to approach train personnel. I on behalf of Deutsche Bahn apologise for this minor inconvenience…”

The old lady across from me began to chuckle. The voice continued.

“To summarise, of the two available toilets on board, the one primarily intended for ordinary passengers is currently defective. An alternative loo may be used provided the train is not moving. Such a situation occurs at times when the train stops at stations along the route. I, on behalf of Deutsche Bahn apologise for this occurrence, which is the result of vandalism.”

Suddenly an enormous Saint Bernard, approximately the size of a small pony, bounded down the corridor. It paused briefly to greet my knee with its expansive snout.

“LOTTA,” a voice yelled behind the dog. A woman with a limp peroxide pony tail hanging from an otherwise shaven head stumbled past me. She was wearing dungarees and smelt strongly of beer.

“COME BACK, LOTTA,” she yelled. She clicked effectually and the gigantic hound returned. The woman grabbed it by the collar. Then she let out an almighty roar. “MY BEER!!!”

On the seat directly behind me, a bottle of beer had unturned. Liquid brew was seeping into the cover and a trickle of beer was making its way towards my feet.

The woman began to scream. “MY BEER. I PAID FOUR EUROS FOR THESE BOTTLES AND I’VE ALREADY LOST THREE. I FUCKING HATE DEUTSCHE BAHN. WHY ARE THEY DRIVING CRAZY LIKE THIS?I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY KNOCKED OVER MY BEER WITH THEIR CRAZY DRIVING. THOSE SONS OF BITCHES DON’T KNOW WHAT’S COMING TO THEM.”

The slow train continued gently through the rolling Franconian countryside.

Her drunken companion entered the carriage. If he had been cleaner and less intoxicated he could have passed as a hipster. He was barefoot, in blue jeans and black horned glasses. And he had a beard.

“Woah,” he said, holding on to their second dog,a kind of grey hound.

The woman with the rat’s tail stumbled to the toilet to get some tissues. A terrible scream followed.

“THIS TOILET IS BLOCKED. WHAT THE HELL? I NEED TO PISS”

This refrain (“Ich muss pissen” in the vernacular) became a recurring motif.

At this point, the old lady who had been chuckling made a tactical move which I was to envy for the next two hours.

She turned to them and said sweetly, “Would you like to sit here? My seat is nice and dry.”

They responded indecipherably in the affirmative. The old lady grabbed her bags and disappeared.

The woman with the rat’s tail sat on the wet seat and jumped up, disgusted. “MY TROUSERS ARE WET,” she yelled.

Her companion, who was bent over the more demure hound, who had managed to fall asleep, began to laugh.

“WHAT’S THERE TO LAUGH ABOUT?” she yelled, pressing her nose against his face. “DO YOU HAVE A NASSER ARSCH?” (wet arse)?”

He was silent.

“Well DO YOU?” she repeated.

He said nothing. She moved away, and summarised her plight.

“I HAVE A WET ARSE AND NO BEER AND I NEED TO PISS.” She took a breath. “Just wait until that conductor comes,” she said, seething.

For the next forty-five minutes, I pretended to read East of Eden while the intoxicated couple discussed sending a letter of complaint to Deutsche Bahn for not providing drinks holders. The woman said she would demand a reimbursement for her beer.The man said that the “welfare state” was retarded. And that the bastards were getting richer, while their welfare was going down.

“GENAU,” (“exactly”) cried the woman.

The woman said she had once been issued a handicapped pass. But that it was the System, rather than herself that was handicapped.

Image source: db-loks.de

The man blamed the System for not providing windows in the carriage that he could open. He took it personally and said “don’t they fucking trust me to open a window? That’s how far we’ve come. Germany is a joke”.

A little while later, a Schaffner with a neat haircut, a Deustche Bahn uniform and an emphatic walk made his way to our compartment. “Tickets please?” he said to the passengers down the way.

The Saint Bernard, who had been lapping up beer close to my feet bounded free again. The woman slunk away and the man said “HEY, LOTTA. Oh MANNO, Lotta not now.”

The Saint Bernard returned and the conductor pretended he had not noticed.

He approached the man with a hearty “Good Afternoon!” in the effusive manner which I too employ in an effort to mask my preconceptions.

The woman burst into the carriage and brought her red face very close to the conductor’s.

“What. the. FUCK is wrong with the toilet?” she screamed. Do you never need to TAKE A PISS?”

His lips flickered, indignantly.

“Madam. I made a clear announcement to the effect that one of our toilets was defective,” he said. “I explained that due to an act of vandalism, a blockage had occurred.”

I turned to the window to hide my laughter.

He continued.”To be more precise, some aluminium foil has been dropped down the toilet by unknown perpetrators. This led to the blockage of the system. It costs three thousand euro to get a Deustche Bahn toilet re-fitted.”

“I don’t give a shit,” said the woman. “Do you have a wet arse?”

“I believe you have a wet “arse,” as you refer to it because you have consumed an excessive amount of beer,” said the conductor, in the style of a revelation and with an accompanying satisfied smile.

The almost-hipster intervened.

“We really need to discuss the issue of drinks holders,” he said with tactful measure. “We’ve lost a lot of beer. And we spent four euro on it.”

“That seems like too much,” agreed the Schaffner.

The conversation meandered from the aggressive to the sublime. The Schaffner responded to queries about Deutsche Bahn’s “blatant discrimination” against those with invalid tickets and explained again about the aluminium foil.

The woman with the rat’s tail let out an occasional roar but was calming down, like both her hounds, who were now in a hazy stupor at her feet.

Her companion produced some kind of ticket, which the Schaffner accepted before moving on and wishing them a nice day.

Three minutes later, the intercom crackled. The Schaffner’s voice spilled once again into the carriage.

“For the attention of passengers recently boarded: Due to an act of vandalism, the lavatory at the back of the train is out of order for the foreseeable future.The damage has been caused by a blockage of material which is considered unsuitable for a toilet. Those passengers with the desire to make use of facilities must venture forth to the front of the train where an alternative lavatory is available. However, said lavatory may only be used while the train is stationary. Those with questions about this issue are advised to approach train personnel. I on behalf of Deutsche Bahn apologise for this minor inconvenience…”

“Fucking fat cats,” said the woman sleepily.

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5 thoughts on ““Have you ever had a wet arse, Herr Schafner?”

  1. I love this post! It made me laugh out loud, and I actually took the time to read it to my hubby (in character voices and everything.) He also greatly enjoyed it. You have such a knack with relating your every day life in story form. It really does read like a novel.

  2. Aw, thank you so much Janyaa! So glad it made you laugh. I had to go to great lengths to conceal my own giggling as it was hapening! The whole scene was a very delicate mixture of comedy and tragedy. I would love to have heard you read this in character! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Eleven Tips for Aspiring Writers | Katekatharina.com

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