Cologne: A City Built on Darwinism

Cologne is a very dangerous city. That’s not to say that it isn’t a very nice city. There are the appropriate amount of historical buildings for tourists to take photos of, there are a lot of nice shops to shop in, the locals seems friendly, the food is nice and I am sure the crime rate is quite low. However, this does not change the fact that it is a very dangerous city for one simple reason. Cologne seems to have been built on the theory of Darwinism. If you are not intelligent enough to survive Koln then Cologne will do its best to remove you from the gene pool all together. I discovered this during a recent business trip with a group of colleagues which I feel we were very lucky to return from with all our limbs attached.

We faced our first challenge before we even set foot on German soil. We’d been on the train from Holland to for four hours so we were eager to disembark. The four of us stood crowded around the door, taking turns to peek out the tiny window in an attempt to spot the platform. Finally the train stopped, we opened the door, the first of us put a triumphant foot forward to step out… and quickly had to be yanked back before becoming the owner of a pair of broken legs.

To say that there was a distinct lack of platform is technically untrue. There was something that could have been classified as a platform but it was over a meter down from the door which I’m sure is in violation of EU regulations.

We spent a full minute just staring at the drop in front of us, trying to work out if ‘that was just how they did things in Germany’ and ‘how in the hell’ we were going to get down. Our options seemed limited. Either we would have to make a rope out of our jackets or simply accept that the first one would have to sacrifice himself so the others could have a soft landing. The solution turned out to be a lot simpler than we thought when we checked the other side of the train carriage and discovered that that door could be opened too and the platform was located on that side.

Having nearly failed the first of Cologne’s Darwinian intelligent tests we disembarked from the train and decided to never speak of it again.

A few hours later we discovered that if visitors survive arriving in the city, Cologne has another way of making sure the unintelligent and unobservant are prevented from future additions to the gene pool. This is done in the form of poles that seem to have been randomly placed around the city at crotch height, sometimes in the middle of the path. If someone (let’s say me for example) was not looking were they were going they might end up receiving the kind of surprising and unexpected blow to the dangly area that makes the voice go a few octaves higher.

When this happened to me my last second attempt to protect my genitalia from impact by sucking them up into my body almost resulted in me doing a full frontal flip over the obstacle which would have looked very cool had I pulled it off but in reality resulted in me falling over and almost impaling myself. Luckily my genitalia came away from the incident unharmed.

Having survived the first two attempts to thin our numbers Cologne resorted to a much more subtle and psychological means of trying to remove us from the mortal world; Elevator music! Or as we started to call it; ‘music to write a suicide note to’. It was elevator music that was not just restricted to elevators. We heard it everywhere; the hotel, restaurants, bars, even the games convention we were attending. It was the kind of happy but sad music that you would expect to hear in a montage of long gone happy memories being remembered by the unhappy soon to be no more writer. I could even hear it in my hotel room coming from the corridor as I tried to sleep and not think about picking up pen and paper myself.

Luckily we did not give in to the cities attempts to break us and later returned to Holland in one peace.


The offending pole outside our hotel

20 responses to “Cologne: A City Built on Darwinism”

  1. Anita says:

    I completely recognize the “happy but sad” songs. Hey, I come from the land of bossa nova ! We call it there not only “elevator songs” but also “dentist’s waiting room sound track”. Soothing… and boring.

  2. Breigh says:

    I’ve only ever been there for the Christmas markets, which I’m sure doesn’t improve things any. It sure is pretty though!

  3. Alison says:

    So glad you survived with all limbs intact and managed to cling on to this mortal coil a bit longer, despite those sneaky Germans’ best efforts!

  4. Jules says:

    The 1 m drop is almost standard on SEPTA trains. I probably wouldn’t have even thought twice :-)

  5. Aledys Ver says:

    Let me guess: the Köln Tourismus office is not paying you to promote their city!! :D

  6. French Bean says:

    Wow. You suddenly made French railways seem more inviting than the German ones. Should I ever visit this city, I’ll be sure to carry a survival/first aid kit. :-P

    -French Bean

  7. French Bean says:

    It just occurred to me: how awful would it have been if a trip to Germany resulted in you not being able to spawn off some future mini-invaders of your own? The invasion of Holland just would not be complete if you didn’t plant a mini-Invader Stu or two. :-P

  8. Andrew says:

    They have similar things in Leiden, but they’re slightly lower so they only threaten to kneecap you, rather than harm your chances of conception. Koln looks very nice though.. it’s as if they feel only the fittest are worthy of seeing it. I might stay away for now…

  9. Invader_Stu says:

    Anita – Yep. That’s exactly the kind of music.

    Breigh – Oh it is very pretty indeed. But don’t let it fool you :p

    Alison – I’m glade too even if I do say so myself :)

    Jules – How do you survive?

    Aledys Ver – Not in the slightest :p

    French Bean – Yes. It would have put a real dent in my future military plans not to mention hurt like hell.

    Andrew – So Leiden is going after your mobility?

  10. mkorsakov says:

    It’s a German thing to place these poles everywhere (mostly near sidewalks) – to prevent cars from parking there. And the poles got different heights – so you can do harm to some other bodyparts as well …

  11. Invader Stu says:

    mkorsakov – Oh good. There is nothing like variety :p

  12. Rose says:

    lol… sounds like a good time ;) Glad to hear your “package” was unharmed and can still be used for future deliveries! I would hate to see what kind of bandage your Stu pic would of had to wear! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Invader Stu says:

    Rose – I think if I drew a cartoon of that I would have to mark it NSFW

  14. French Bean says:

    Well, at least you survived, Stu, which means that you are (despite your accident-proness) the fittest. ^.^

  15. Invader Stu says:

    That makes me wonder if the people who did not make it out of the city are more accident prone than me :s

  16. Efrutik says:

    I beg for a sample of this “music to write a suicide note to” at some point please. And I thought in America it was the worst case when you have to hear the assortment of “elevator” music while waiting for things a very somber experience. But I thought Europeans would be more…hmmm just more…

  17. Invader Stu says:

    Efrutik – Next time I go there I will record a sample but I wont be held responsible for any unfortunate results :p

  18. Just a Plane Ride Away says:

    Maybe they were chanting “Mind the Gap” in German and you were too busy trying not to fall out of the train?

    Those poles do look dangerous. Well done surviving Cologne :-)

  19. Invader Stu says:

    Just a Plane Ride Away – It is possible. Although I think they would have had to be saying “Mind the drop to your death”

  20. Efrutik says:

    Hahhahha thanks Stu, I’m sure it will be a decent sample ;)

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