Tagebuch: November 2006

Columns | Nayeli Urquiza | November 2006

Dear Diary,

The number of causes for being grouched at in Vienna seem infinite. I love Vienna, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I understand where Freud found his inspiration to research the dark sides of the human soul.

I was walking towards the pizza parlor in the U-Bahn station at Schottenring. It was past 22:00, and I needed change to buy cigarettes. My mp3 player was playing Bob Dylan’s "Like a Rolling Stone," and I was completely into it, while my feet mechanically walked towards the vending machine.

The music was high but I felt a sonorous shadow creeping up, distorting Bob Dylan’s words. I looked over my shoulder. Oh no, an old and drunk man on a bike was yelling at me: I was standing in his way. It was not the bicycle path; he just felt like going that way.

I plugged myself out of the world again, turned up the volume and headed toward the vending machine. Just my luck, the man was still coming towards me. Again, I could hear him mocking me, complaining about the noise I was making with my shoes (!!), and of course, a few nasty words. I calculated the risks and benefits of answering back. No, I decided. I am short; I have never taken self-defense courses for women. There was no point in fueling this guy’s frustration.

"What is your problem!" shouted a couple of guys who were eating by the pizza stand at my bike-riding stalker. The man shouted back "What’s your problem?" and proceeded to explain the existential dilemma he had with the clacking noise of my shoes. I walked away and left the drunken bike-rider shouting at my pizza-munching cavaliers.

I have a thesis about the kindness-rudeness equation in Vienna: it’s directly proportional. The more people who jump at you for disturbing their equilibrium, the more you find who are willing to help you.

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