I made great friends who lived in nice suburbs with pretty houses and gardens, who, in the most endearing manner, referred to me as ‘the ghetto kid’. When they drove through my suburb, they would lock the doors inside the car to prevent any attacks, and never dared to park anywhere near my house because someone might steal their tyres. Thus, I grew up rolling my eyes as they didn’t even truly stop the car to let me in and just shouted ‘JUMP IN QUICKLY!!!’ as if we were being chased by a group of hungry lions. (I hope you are enjoying all my jungle references today, dearest reader)
Over the course of our relationship so far, you might have found me to be a well-spoken and fairly decent human being. But I have to come clean with you dearest reader. I wasn’t predestined to pursue sophisticated things.
Only recently, I watched a German national news report about my hometown, and I feel that it is time to unveil my true origins.
I was born in a coastal city called Bremerhaven, which is situated in the north-west of Germany. Specifically, I grew up in a suburb called Lehe, which is notorious for all the social issues you wouldn’t usually associate with ‘Germany’ – vandalism, prostitution, teenage pregnancies, unemployment, arson, drugs, domestic violence, alcoholism and just a general crappy vibe caused by all the wide-spread stupidity. Similar to the Amazon jungle, if you wait patiently in the bushes you might at some point even get lucky enough to witness an inter-ethnic fight among the various migrant groups and the white trash represented in this area.
Indeed, the national news report was not about my hometown in general, but specifically about my suburb which apparently made the news for new levels of crime and unemployment that are comparatively disturbing when considering the country we are speaking of. In the report, one of the main streets was shown, and the reporter described it as “the street that has on average 40 break-ins per year.”
In our defence, I want to point out that it is highly possible that these break-ins have been committed by the same three drunk people who don’t remember which house they live in, and who just break into random homes looking for their own bed. But then again, you can’t fight statistics.
But despite the overly dramatised news reports, it isn’t all that bad. You get to know the safe streets, and the not so safe streets, you know not to wander around in the dark, and you get a feeling for who is dangerous and who is not.
For example, a kid with a graffiti spray can= dangerous.
A kid with a teenage magazine = not dangerous.
A kid with ugly glasses = easy victim for the kid with the spray can, therefore dangerous.
A happy kid with a pink flowery dress = clearly not from this suburb, even easier victim for kid with the spray can, therefore dangerous.
But the toughest part is not actually the street, it’s the school. You can’t avoid being in the same room with spray-can-kid, and you can’t make friends with glasses-kid, otherwise you’ll be on spray-can-kid’s radar. You also need to find the right balance between taking it and giving it – sometimes you need to take the abuse and rise above it, but sometimes you just need to grab spray-can-kid by his chicken neck and kick him in the nuts to make your point and ensure he doesn’t confuse you with glasses-kid again.
Luckily, after engaging in much nut-kicking during school hours, I focused on studying in the afternoons to improve my overall life experience. Thanks to my academic achievements, I was soon accepted by a better school in the city centre which is a much safer place with nicer kids.
Much to my parent’s delight, I also no longer got involved in any nut-kicking incidents. Due to my ethnic minority status and the well-known fact that I live in the ‘ghetto suburb’ and survived, my fellow students thought I might be the dangerous kid, which, of course, is ridiculous when considering that I was half their size. But it meant that all I had to do was sternly look at people and say something mildly threatening, and they ceased doing whatever activity was rubbing me the wrong way.
Fast-forward many years, today I can finally walk around in a pink flowery dress, proudly looking around my beautiful Sydney suburb and all I have achieved, while never forgetting all the nuts I had to kick to get here.