Friday, 5 April 2013

29: Green Man and his wicked ways



If you’ve walked into any souvenir shop in Berlin, you’ve undoubtedly seen piles-on-piles of Green Man. Green Man isn’t really symbolic of anything and neither does he exist, other than on t-shirts and in traffic lights.

Not entirely true: Green Man also resides on mugs, mouse-pads and lamps that look like traffic lights. He is the only man to have guided political leaders of all ideologies from Bergmann-Pohl and Honecker to Schroder and Merkel.

Green Man isn’t Sallowist because he not only originated in former Eastern Germany, but quickly became a cult hero in the West too, long after the country of his birth was extinguished.

Owning a Green Man t-shirt, hat or ashtray is essential and will reinforce your Sallowist credentials. It will advertise to people wherever you go in Germany that you live in Berlin. Green light it.

You find Green Man mainly on street cormers with his brother, Red Man. Both wear hats and are known collectively in German as ampelmännchen (yep, they have their own Wikipedia page from which a substantial amount of this post was stolen).

Green Man is the image of a peaceful man strutting forwards with a bowler hat. These days he works as a pedestrian traffic light across Berlin (take that West). As persuasive and inviting as Green Man is in his work however, Red Man, the evil twin, always reappears when you least want to see him. 

The man with the most green in Berlin
Before you can even run across the road. It’s licensed massacre waiting to happen.  God forbid if you’re crossing with children, animals or any kind of weights.

A green light has to be somebody else's red light. Every time I cross my road on the green I can see the cars waiting for my pedestrian green light to expire so they can accelerate me into a skip.  Because the cars turning have a green light at the same time as me as long as I'm not crossing - me walking across on my pedestrian green light couldn't be a better ingredient for road rage to them. They are in a car,  I'm on foot. Call the local news station.

The worst thing is the pedestrian green light turns red even faster at night, as if the road shrinks after sunset rendering it crossable in half the time. The added effect of poor visibility, the level of alcohol in drivers and my own habit of getting more tired as the day goes on makes popping out for something a heinous task.

Only the bike, or guerrilla crossing, will suffice.

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