Berlin looks so innocent sometimes. But it never stops being synonym for something out of the ordinary. It’s the excuse for being different. “It’s so Berlin,” one would say, when something is off.
One of the first few things I got to know about Berlin was the booming start up scene. It was full of young freelancers meeting over coffee at St Oberholz, planning their next entrepreneurial move, making jokes at the big corporate world. The big multi-national corporations are the inefficient, money-wasting yet money-hungry group of people. It was the snub that basically said, they book plane tickets, we book buses. Where buses was the cool one.
I’m not that extreme, but I’ve to give in that I’ve started taking that mindset a little. Since living in Berlin, I’ve never thought less of fancy bars. Those are where the fancily dressed people with pearl necklaces go to. This is my start-up snub.
But recently I got to know someone who was a social snub. The moment the answer “I work in a small start-up” escaped my mouth after she asked what I do for a living, she had already placed me into a drawer, as they say in German. She has me fully stereotyped as she snorted and said that she already know how to identify people like me. Those young guys with their beard, with their pool tables in their offices.
Foosball table, I corrected her. But hang on, I hadn’t even explained what I do. I’m not a programmer, I’m not a designer. Why am I getting stereotyped before saying anything else?
Maybe I deserved it for being a start-up snub. But I don’t put people into boxes from the type of company one works in. And my husband works for a corporate, but I’m still in love with him.
Still, this sort of behaviour would be termed “so berlin”. I’m not sure if there’s a place anywhere else in the world where a substantial group of people spent more time defending refugees, and saying things like people should spend more time helping people, and still be completely against religion. I think that summed her up quite accurately, at least.