The “Present Box”

 

This wardrobe-like structure lives on a traffic island in west Berlin. It’s called a “Schenk”(present) Box”. It’s a beautiful idea. Anybody who either has something they don’t need, or is feeling generous, can come and leave a present in the box for a stranger to pick up at a later date. I’ve found all sorts of things in there: pots and pans, baby clothes, board games, a kettle, clothes and books. I picked up English copies of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple as well as  The Hobbit in German. The rules are very simple: keep the box neat and tidy, don’t use it as a dumpster, don’t re-sell your gifts. I’m already wondering what I’m going to leave there. Why not make a suggestion on my Facebook page here?

Three Women That Don’t Know They’re In My Life

1. The Prostitute

She has white-blonde hair and long, thin legs. She stands by the red-brick buildings of Hackesher Markt. She wears white leather hot pants, tan coloured tights and furry white snow boots. Her cleavage is pushed up by a skin-tight leather jacket, which she keeps half unzipped. She has red lips and cool, blue eyes. Last Saturday night, it snowed in Berlin. She watched a group of Italian men walk up the street. She stood in their way and smiled, casting her eyes up and down their bodies. First they were uncomfortable, then aroused. She put her arms around one and pushed her body towards his. She pressed her breasts to his chest. All the time, she took sidelong glances at his friends. The snowflakes were sticking to her hair. She was cold.

Berlin's Affluent Red Light District

2. The Girl at the Bakery

She sells sour dough bread and pastries at a bakery at an underground station and her red uniform includes a crumpled tie. She has an old-fashioned kind of face, which refuses to be offset by her hoopy silver earrings, lip piercing and the two thick black scrunchies, which hold back her wavy hair. When she serves customers, she is upbeat. There is something naive in her face which I am drawn to. I think she would flair up at injustice and I think that she is happy in her job. Once when I was eating a Nussecke and sipping on a latté at the bakery, I saw her chat quietly to a colleague. The tone was conspiratorial. It surprised me.

3. The “Tickets Please?” Girl

She could be a child but she is not. She is small and has big brown eyes and dark curly hair. She lives at the entrance to my underground station with homeless men and their giant dogs. Her voice rings in my ears. She says the same thing every day. “Tickets please?”. (Fahrscheine bitte?”). She says it like she is a bored train conductor, but really she is a bored homeless person collecting tickets to sell on. She’s not on drugs because her eyes, while large and droopy are alert. She wears puffy clothes from the 80s and she works much harder collecting tickets than her male friends.