Berlin: How To Not Get “TAKEN”

A photograph of the street in Berlin, Germany.

“Where are you going?”

“Where are you going?”

The emerald VW pulled up beside me has the sunroof open. From the street corner, it’s almost as easy to look down into the car as it is to look through it. Jazz blares from the speakers, and there’s a green glass bottle in the cup holder that looks suspiciously like a Heinenken . Maybe it’s Perrier. Through the window, the car’s owner looks to be in his 50s, hefty, but not overweight. A cigarette dangles from the edge of his mouth.

Backpack heaving, I shrug my shoulders. It’s been nearly an hour since I was dropped on the main thoroughfare by the bus, and I am no closer to finding my homestay. I sigh,” I’m fine thanks.”

His sunglasses are hanging half down his face, and I can see behind at the questioning gaze that inquires, “Really?”

How to Get Taken

I don’t know why I watched Taken on the plane ride over. Action adventure isn’t really my genre unless there are humorous quips. Like in Indiana Jones. Drama action adventure? Even less my type.

But, on my first trip overseas to spend the summer alone in Germany on an internship, I decided I would watch the most recent plane thriller about two girls being abducted abroad.

And then, mere hours after arriving on the streets of Berlin, I was debating getting in a car with an unknown German man.

I Have My Reasons

Don’t chastise me. This was back in the day before cell phones and GPS. I’d done my due diligence, looking up directions on how to get from the airport to the bus to my homestay stop. But, being a novice, I’d neglected to consider how far I should zoom in on the side streets, and I was lost in the labyrinth of Friedrichshain neighborhood.

I was close, so close, I just knew it would be right around the corner. And when a local pulled up to ask if I needed help, the part of me that was exhausted with roaming considered it.

How They Get Taken

Have you seen Taken? Well, if you haven’t and don’t want it spoiled, leave now. The girls land in Paris. They meet some cute and charming young men who invite them to party and make merry. The rambunctious young female doesn’t heed her friends warnings and agrees to let the guys come see where they stay. The guys come to the house for revelry or something like that. Yada, yada, yada, girls get abducted by guys, the plot progresses.

So, What Do I Do?

“Where are you going?” He asks.
“Oh, I’m fine, thanks,” I reply, clearly struggling.
“Oh come on. What street are you looking for?”
Damn. I clutch the printer page. Well, a street can’t hurt. Tell him the street! There are hundreds of apartments on a street! “Friedenstasse?” I stutter.
“That’s right around the corner. Get in, and I’ll take you.”

And in that moment, by myself on the street in a foreign country, I have to decide whether my exhaustion outweighs my wariness, and, if it does, what makes me trust this man? How is he guaranteed to be different than those boys who abduct those girls?

For one, they were too charming. Too smiling. Too complimentary. Too eager and willing to please. Too glossy and prim.

This man is all grit. He’s rolling his eyes at me, and isn’t disguising the fact that he thinks I’m ridiculous. And he’s listening to jazz! What potential abductor listens to jazz!

And I Trust Him

And so, I decide I trust this man, and I get in the car. He speeds off, zig then zag, and then I am dropped off at the front door of my homestay.

“Thanks,” I offer as he lights a cigarette.
“Bitte schoen,” he replies and streaks off onto the street.

What does the difference between being Taken come down to in the book of The Chemistress?

Well, are they listening to jazz?

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