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About J.J

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  • Location Berlin
  • Nationality Chinese
  1. Trigger Warning: explicit depiction  Long article of over 5000 words   How I fell prey to a sexual attack and had my life ruined At the end of October 2019, I was notified by the person who’d been subletting his room to me,  that I’d have to move out before Dec.1. After a year in Berlin, I knew just how daunting a  task it was in finding a place in the city on short notice. I began right away to explore every avenue I could think of, including changing my PlanetRomeo ( a gay dating and Socializing website/app) profile to reflect the fact that I was actively and very eagerly seeking a room.    A few days later, I received, and immediately ignored a  request message on Romeo to open up my personal photo album. Then on Thursday, Oct 31, the same  person wrote me a message under the alias ‘ Tom’, introducing in great detail the extra room in the flat he owns that he’s letting. He tried to tell me that he’s ‘looking for someone who can stay for long term’ with whom he can create ‘a family atmosphere ’, and,  in an effort to convince me of his good intentions and as a direct address to my religious belief listed on my profile, claimed that he’s a good Catholic man.   I was excited to have come across a fellow Catholic , not to mention the fact that he’s the owner of the place  rather than the second-hand landlords I’d been reluctantly dealing with all along, and at once asked to see the place. He then told me his name was Hubert, and gave me his number.   We set up a date to see the place on Nov 9. He received me in the living room, told me a bit about himself and the place. I demanded to see the extra bedroom, but he told me it’s still a mess and he had not yet converted it into a bedroom. Come to think of it, it was actually the first alarm one should take heed of. It was clearly listed on his Romeo profile that he’s offering B&B. If he had actually been running B&B all along then why wasn’t there a bed in the guest room? Does that mean all the guests were sleeping with him in his bed, or on the sofa in the living room?   What a credulous fool I had been! Had I chosen to address this suspicion momentarily flashing through my head, probably none of the rest would have happened. I’d still be the same old Jun Ji , happy as a clam and always ready to crack a joke about just anything, running around in Germany, or in Shanghai, chasing after my dreams. Little did I know that it was the beginning of the end, the end of me, of my former confident and hopeful self. The end of my sanity.   My response then was it’s totally Ok. I told him since I’d planned to go away back to China for the upcoming holiday season right after a two-day work trial scheduled at the end of the month, and would not return to Berlin till late February , he would have plenty of time to get the room ready if he chose to have me as a tenant . I told him I was  looking to take up a room only after I return in February. He then tried to convince me to move my things into his place to ‘ lock down the deal’ before I go. He made a point to ‘help me see’ that it’s actually in my best interest he’s thinking, saving me the heavy labor of having to move my belongings to somewhere else for storage and then into his home come Feburary, and this kind gesture from his part would serve us both, in that it’d give him some kind of guarantee  and me the ease of not having to moving my belongings to somewhere else.  I told him I’d consider it. Our first meeting lasted less than an hour and I left feeling assured. He seemed nice. Very nice indeed.   November had been overwhelmingly hectic since I’d had to tackle many issues in the ever-changing circumstances in my life before embarking on a 3-month break in China. After a week’s pondering, I decided it best to strike a deal with Hubert, and move my belongings to his place before my departure to China on Dec 1. So we arranged to meet again the following Saturday on Nov. 16 to hash out the details.    I went to his place in the afternoon bearing lots of gifts. His seemingly caring and considerate persona and his excessive talking about God had impressed me tremendously.  I was taking lots of satisfaction in thinking I’d finally met a great landlord after a year’s worth of struggling through the throat-cutting Berlin housing market.    I wanted to talk about the payment that day, but he kept telling me it’s not important. He spoke at length of his former ‘roommates’—all of whom from Third World countries like Brazil, Bangladesh, etc—how he’d been nice to them but his kindness never rewarded; how they all ended up taking advantage of his generosity , abused his trust and left him. In hindsight, this should have been the second warning signal I’d received from my instincts. But blind , naive and thick-headed I was, again I failed to pick up the sign and plunged myself deeper into the hazard.   The whole afternoon and evening flew past as he kept plying me with wine and a kind of herbal liquor, and we both had a lot to drink that day. It was almost 11pm when I realized I had to leave and catch the train, but he begged me to stay, saying that we’d spent a great time together and tomorrow he could show me more of the surrounding areas. I was tired and rather drunk, the last thing I wanted  was to travel 14 km to Wilmsdorf on a cold night to my flat. Besides, he’s just a harmless old man who seemed to have all the good intentions, no? I nodded.   I wanted to crush  on the sofa, but he insisted, with all the good intentions one can feign, that I be sharing his bed. Quickly , I analyzed the situation. Here ’s an older man at the age 55 with diabetes. I did not have anything in the slightest to fear, I thought.    I got into the bed first and was halfway into the slumberland , when he showed up, removed his underwear and jumped into the bed. I was unnerved. He told me it’s very common in East German culture where he grew up in ‘not to be confined by tight garments’ after a long day. I was too sleepy to make any further objection. I passed out minutes after.   I woke up in the middle of the night feeling a heavy weight pressed upon me. It took me a while trying in my sleepy state to figure out what’s going on, but when I realized Hubert had been using me as some kind of a cushion by leaning his body on mine, I was startled. I asked him what’s going on. He apologized immediately and profusely, saying he didn’t do it on purpose, citing diabetes was to blame for his sometimes unconscious movements in his sleep. This would have been the loudest, strongest warning signal coming my way thus far, and I closed my eyes on it yet again. I was too tired, physically and emotionally. I wanted to be tolerant and understanding, like a good Christian should. I wanted not to judge people.   The second day was a Sunday and I’d planned to go to the church community I’d recently been involved with. He, however, played the God card, telling me how lonely and sick his life has truly been: how he’s been wronged by the society, especially the unfair  pension scheme devised following the Mauerfall (fall of Berlin Wall) which would have him receiving  a fraction of what he’s entitled to a few years down the road when he retires; How East Germans had been robbed by their counterparts in the West after the wall came down, and poisoned by nasty stuff like loads of sugar, by which he’d been victimized and made a diabetic of,  found in everything in the supermarket just to make a quick buck.   I was sympathetic since I come from a Communist country myself. He told me he’d want nothing more than to build a home instead of a WG(shared living situation) under his roof, where he and his housemate could look after and support each other through thick and thin, quoting,  in exact words, what I’d put down on my Romeo profile,  in the description of my ideal living situation.   The only thing out of ordinary that day was his insisting on my learning how to do insulin shots on him with a needle. I was initially disgusted and declined. Then he played the God card again. I again complied. I wanted to be accommodating  and show empathy to the best of my abilities.    I spent one more night with him at his insistence, believing it’s his idea of a trial stay for us as future roommates. I’d already booked my flight ticket for Nov 30, from Zurich to Shanghai. The plan was to leave Berlin for Titisee in Baden Wurthemburg on Nov 27, stay 2 nights in Titisee for my and work trial, then go straight to Zurich from there and fly home. I told him about my itinerary, and he proposed to help me move my stuff from my Wilmsdorf address to his home that Friday when he returns from Brandenburg City where he works 4 days a week. I happily accepted.   Came Friday, he told me that he’d just driven back from Brandenburg City and was too tired to help me move that evening. He asked me to go stay with him there so that we could start cleaning out his basement together the first thing next morning to make room for my stuff.   On Saturday, he opened up his basement and told me since I wanted to move in , it’s my responsibility to clean out the basement for him and make space. I found it odd to have noticed the absent qualities of being considerate and caring he seemed to possess days ago, but wanted not to make too much a deal out of. So I labored the whole morning helping him clean out the basement and took them to the recycle yard, while he stood aside just to watch. In the afternoon he drove me to my place to pick up the already packed boxes and luggage. Throughout the ride he’d been acting grumpy. I was worried, but did not want to do anything that would upset him at this point. I had, after all, already packed everything in. I did all the heavy lifting by myself while he sat in the car, watching, and at times shouting at me to hurry up, blaming me not have done my work in advance and now wasting his time. He was becoming more unpleasant by the minute.   I should have called off the whole thing there and then, any tougher-skinned, well-seasoned Berliner would have. But I was too soft. I had too much at stake, or so I thought. I couldn’t possibly at this moment jeopardize my upcoming work trial in Titisee. I needed the peace of mind knowing my belongings would be kept safe somewhere before my departure.   On arriving at his place,  I moved everything into the basement on my own. True to his now appalling form, he not only did not lift a finger to help, but had adopted a sulking temperament that just made people uncomfortable. I did not say a thing. I knew it’s probably not gonna be pleasant down the road,  but for the 350 euro a month for the room that I’d get in February when I return, it’d still be worth it. This, after all, is Berlin. Everyone has to put up with something due to the imperfect nature of the city. Everyone has a cross to bear, so I tried to convince myself.   He began to persuade me to change my plan of going home at the end of the month. I was having none of it, of course, but he started making a point that was equal parts threat and genuine concern. He told me he’d changed his mind, that he’d not have the guarantee that I’d return in Feburary, that I could either start paying him 350/month from this day forward, or I could  change my ticket to a later date, say, Chinese New Year ( late January, 2020).    I still tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking he’s just a lonely, sad old man in desperate need of company. I told him I’d not have much to do during Christmas here. And just like that, he went back to impersonating this kind, caring and soft-spoken God fearing man I’d seen a week ago, in plying with promises to take me to his hometown for Christmas and have an authentic Christmas holiday together with his family, friends and beyond. It would be all worth the price I’d pay to change the ticket, he continued, sensing my hesitation.    Truth be told that I had  already been overwhelmed by the many  things happening around me at the same time, a hundred decisions to be made at a time of constant changes and uncertainty, and my growing concerns over the feasibility of  traveling from a small backwater town in the Black Forest,  across the border into Switzerland with 2 pieces of heavy suitcases in tow, to catch a flight in Zurich simply did not make it any easer for me to stick to my original plan , however I'd wanted to. so I surrendered. I took the bait, and spent 120 euros to change the ticket to late Jan, 2020.   All was finalized and it seemed I was set to be in Berlin for another 2 months. Just when I thought I could finally catch my breath and relax a bit,  plan out my life for the upcoming 2 months in Berlin, those previously subtle, interspersed signs that suggested the dubious character of my new landlord/flatmate began, immediately, to come out in droves, in a much more audacious fashion.   Saturday, Nov 23 was the first day of my move-in to his place , the same day I’d heaved my entire life in Berlin to his place. It took me hours to labor through the many boxes, picking out the stuff I needed at hand and placing the rest to storage. When I finally finished, I told him I’d planned a dinner with some of my friends from the catholic community who was hosting a farewell dinner for me. He seemed not pleased. He was sulking again, and I paid no attention to him and left.   By midnight I came back to his flat. He immediately told me off for coming back so late and it bothered him. He refused to give me the key when I demanded one before leaving for the dinner, saying its’ not safe for him to do so. I told him earlier that day that I was ready to wire him the deposit of 700 euros plus the first month rent of 350, provided he could furnish the official renting contacts for us to sign first, to which he said he’s not ready yet.    By the bedtime of the first day of my move-in, I was convinced it’s a mistake. But how big a mistake, I had no idea still. I concluded the way he’d behaved as this unpleasant, grumpy man was owing to a lifelong rejection by the societies, both the mainstream and the gay one, therefore having this huge chip on the shoulder. But in the end of the day, he’s harmless. I was wrong.   That night, I was awaken 3 times in total. First time by having his arms round my body, so tight as if he’s strangling me. I pushed him away with force, but did not say much other than begging him to sleep. Second time, similar to the experience I had from a week ago, I woke up finding him use me as a cushion, with half his body weight on me by leaning against me in the most awful way. I pushed him away this time, with lots of force, told him not to do this again. Still there’s the third time, when I caught him reaching into my underwear fondling me.    I’d had enough. This was only my first day moving in and already this. I had to do something. I finally confronted him, in all seriousness. He at first was quiet for a few minutes, then he tried to weasel his way out by turning the table on me, questioning why I’d have gym selfie pictures showing my toned physique on my GayRomeo profile, ‘ if  I was such a good Christian’? That I only pretended to be a saint.    Infuriated , spurred on by his brazenness, I launched into a tirade telling him my personal life was none of his business, and I was no saint, that I’d have sex with my ex German boyfriend all the time but would never so much as kissing someone like him. I thought this would shut him up and buy me a night of peace. But he then began to badger me with questions like how many times I’ve had sex since arriving in Germany in late 2018, and how many guys I’v hooked up with, etc, force-feeding me tall tales of his trophy Brazilian boyfriend who lived with him for a year and loved him very much, sexing him all the time, who’s now living in Mitte as a successful male escort but owes gratitude to him, insinuating that I should also be grateful for whatever ‘help’ he’d bestowed on me , and follow the example of his ex and just let him have it.   I saw there’s no point of continuing this. I could now see clear as the day light that it’s not gonna work out, and I’d need to find another solution as soon as possible. I went to the living room to sleep on the sofa, he left me alone.   The next day I tried to avoid him as much as I possibly could. I’d already begun to put out feelers in hope of finding a place to tide me over after my return from  Titisee. And for now, I just hoped the next 3 nights to pass as quickly and smoothly as possible, without any drama.   I returned to the flat in the afternoon , still refusing to say a word to him. Moments later,  I went into the bathroom to find the most shockingly disturbing mess I’d seen in my whole life. The toilet had been wrecked with poop, lots of poop splattered all over the place: chunky bits of the nasty stuff were seen trailing the insides and off the exteriors of the toilet, stuck on the toilet sea and on the toilet cover; as if someone had  just blasted it with an explosive diarrhea, and chose not to clean after his mess. The toilet was not flushed. There was no traces of toilet paper inside. There was only one explanation.It was meant for me to see, to experience, to be irked.   I did not know why I did it, but I scrubbed the toilet clean.I did not want to give the old monster anything to work with. All I could think of was it’s nearly over. 3 more nights then I’d be gone. Little did I know that the nasty scene was forever seared in my memory, contributing now to my traumatic feelings in great strength. My blood is boiling at the writing of this event. I want to shout, I want to curse, on top of my lung, his evil doing.   Understandably, I wanted out immediately. The trouble being, I could find a place to stay for the 3 nights prior to my Wednesday trip, but not my belongings. Leaving my precious things alone with someone like him was unthinkable. I was too afraid to find other ‘surprises’ when I come back from Titisee for my things. So I could not go just yet no matter how much I wanted to. I wrecked my brain in search of a solution. I was contacting people I knew to see if there’s a chance I could move my things into their place in the next 2 days. Time was unfortunately not on my side.   When the bedtime rolled around, I knew better to camp out on the sofa.  He went to his bedroom. Not a word between us, no addressing the toilet catastrophe, and I remembered breathing a sigh of relief.   Before turning off the light, he came out, wearing a T-shirt and nothing else, and said good night. All I could think of was the skid marks he’d leave on those sheets after the masterpiece staged in the toilet that afternoon. It gave me the shudders to think I’d actually shared a bed with him for 2 nights. What a nightmare.     Somewhere in the middle of the night, I was awaken, again. It sounds almost cosmic to hear myself saying this, but by then I’d actually begun to get used to being pestered and harassed by him, in the mostly harmless ways characteristic of the pathetic human being he was. So when I gathered enough conscious to make of the situation at hand, the sheer intensiveness of the horror in front of my eyes was such that I wished I’d not come to this time.   My boxer had been pulled down, and this disgusting beast was now kneeling astride me, his lips around my penis, a few fingers in my butt. I jolted up, but before I could reach my upright sitting position, he forcefully sat me down, his disgusting anal area landing on my face. For a  few seconds I was dumbfounded. The whole thing happened so fast that I was rendered motionless. Then I regained my strength, pushed as hard as I could and broke free from him. He took a fall to the floor. I was now on my feet, preparing myself for whatever was to come next. He stood up,  took a long look at me before heading back to his bedroom,  as if nothing had happened, leaving me there in the dark, listless.    The idea of picking up the phone and dial 110 totally evaded me, bizarrely, not on that night, not in the many days to come. I was emotionally drained and physically exhausted by all the turns and twists of the events, so much so that, looking back , it’s almost shocking that I’d not taken a stronger, more aggressive reaction to what had happened to me. I’d been like a hamster on the wheel in those final weeks of my stay in Berlin, stretched out by all the vagaries that demanded my immediate attention. I was distracted, so much so  that I was not even aware that I’d been victimized by a heinous crime of  sexual assault.  I simply did not have time to process it all.    My lack of better judgement  and mishandling of the situation in not involving the authorities  there and then is now the endless ammunition of my weapon for self-loathing. If only I’d had my wits about me and brought him to the justice then, when all the hard evidences were probably fresh and available, he’d probably be paying for his crime now! I could probably have taken the whole trauma better knowing the justice’s done, knowing that there’s a closure. I missed the window to having this closure, I know, and no earthly retribution befitting his crime will ever be inflicted on him. I stand to take all the blames for and consequences of being soft, weak and unassertive.   The next day I left very early in the morning for my German class. My friend who lives not far from Ostbahnhof offered me to stay with her for the next 2 nights after hearing my story, the vague version. I thought this had to be the best option possible, though it means I’d have to leave my belongings with that sick bastard for the time being.    I waited till the evening to return to his place, coldly announced that I was leaving and I was just there to pick up a few things for my job interview in Titisee. I told him that I’d no choice but to leave my stuff in his care, and I’d come pick them up on Saturday as soon as I return to Berlin from Titisee. I promised I’d give him some money when I come for my belongings in hope that he would not do anything crazy to them. He did not say anything. I packed a small bag and left.     En route to Titisee, I called the travel agency in China to change my ticket again, to December 3. It cost me an extra 100 euros. I started to sense the toll the assault had taken on me. I began to feel insecure and restless. I felt burdened. I  desperately needed to go home for some rest.   On Saturday, Nov 30 I returned to Berlin upon finishing my work down in the south , to stay with my friend Alex who’d agreed to not only hosting  me for the days leading up to my departure, but also to go with me to that monster’s home next day to pick up all of my belongings.   On the train back to Berlin I’d been phoning Hubert 3-4 times in hope of confirming the time for my going to his place the next day.  After hanging up on me twice, he finally picked up and said he’s not sure about his plan the next day, but I could try calling again tomorrow.   Worried as I was, I tried to remain as composed as humanly possible. But I was starting to crumble. The wound had begun to fester. When my parents called to enquire about my current living situation, I totally lost it by panically sobbing about how I’d fallen in the trap of a bad landlord who’s now holding all my belongings hostage. I certainly could not have mentioned exactly what had happened. They’d not be able to understand anyway.   Sunday, Dec 1. Around noon I tried to contact and reached him, he said he’d not be available till after 6 pm. I told him it’d be late and dark outside, and I had 14 boxes to move. He hung up.   Alex and I arrived at 6 pm at his place. It was a strange sensation to reverse the great efforts I’d put in achieving just a mere week ago. Now with a helping hand and someone I knew I could trust on my side, the heavy lifting of the suitcases and boxes down from his third floor flat and up from the basement was actually more bearable than I’d expected. Hubert had a neighbor as a guest with him in the living room, but he’d still pop over from time to time to keep a watchful eye on me. Come to think of it, he was probably afraid, very afraid indeed, I’d exact some kind of revenge after the ordeal he’d put me through. But he was wrong. The only thing I wanted the most in the whole world was to get out of there as soon as possible. I was terrified of him.   It’s worth noting that I noticed immediately that some of my boxes had been rummaged through.  He probably had wanted to find some valuables. Since I’d had the foresight to have my 2 suitcases with my more valuable belongings password-locked, he did not find anything worth withholding. He demanded in total 5 days of rent, and I just tossed him 50 euros and left.   2 days later, I left Berlin scarred, bruised and broken, only I did not know to what extent—just how deep the cuts were, how serious a damage the assault had caused on my mental health—till I got home, placed in the safety of my room where I had time to finally process the whole thing, that the magnitude of the traumatizing events I experienced under that monster’s roof in Berlin began to manifest.   In the 6 weeks since my arrival back home on Dec 4, I’v been placed in a self-imposed home-arrest. I would not, nay, can not leave my room. I spend most of my time lying in bed, staring into the ceiling. To everyone including my parents I’ve seemed quiet and at peace. Anything but.    I no longer own my thoughts, my mind, as it seems. I have a history of OCD, thus I’m well versed with the symptoms. But even the most intense bout of intrusive thoughts courtesy of OCD do not hold a candle to what I’ve been experiencing these days , what with the memories of the events took place during the few days I spent at that monster’s place,  now on a nonstop, back-to-back play loop in my head, dictating the every minute of the every hour of my time awake.Sleep was my refuge in the beginning, till it no longer was a week later. I’d bolt up in the middle of the night in cold sweat after a vivid nightmare, in which I’d inevitably find him sitting on me butt-naked, leaving skid marks all over my face, neck, leg, even my genitals ….and my screaming on top of my lung would be drowned out by all kinds of laughters—his laughters, the laughers of his neighbors, laughters of people unknown.   I began to take long showers. I spent almost 1.5 hour one time in the shower trying to scrub myself clean from those imaginary skid marks I saw in my dreams. I’d have done it longer were it not for my parents’ threat of turning off the water heating. Other than the excessive cleaning and ruminating, I’ve lost all interest in things I’d previously enjoyed so much, things like going to the gym to exercise and to my church to meet my friends from the community.     I’m yet alive but dead all the same. Matter of fact, I wish I was dead. Death would mean the ending of the relentless attacks from the barrages of horrifying memories, once for all.    I know what’s going on in the back of my mind. I’m very aware of the fact that I’ve been deeply traumatized by the heinous crimes that guy had perpetrated against me. But why me? Why would he do what he did to me, someone who’s a perfect stranger, someone who’d shown him every bit of courtesy and tolerance accorded, in the most Christian way,  to an older man with poor health,  from the beginning to the very end? Trying to find an explanation for his monstrous acts has proven to be futile. He probably never had a motive. He probably was never in the wrong and thus shoulders no blame. It’s I, the gullible buffoon, the  pushover with a weak personality, who ought to be held responsible. In a city as hardcore as Berlin,  people like me must be punished.   And punished I’ve been. My home, my former sweet little haven, my last refuge in the world of danger, the place I could put my legs up and just unburden all the worldly affairs—has now been  encroached, in large quantity,  by the memorabilia from that monster’s home. Truthfully, every thing I’d brought home from Berlin, from the laptop to cell phone, to the jackets, sweaters, underwear, socks, shoes, hats, glasses, books…have been in that monster’s home, have come in contact at some point with him or his stuff, and now serve as the constant reminder of my ordeal, the sources of all my misery. They have been irrevocably contaminated.   I received the formal job offer one day before the Christmas Eve as a follow-up to the work trial at Titisee. I can imagine how happy I would have been if I’d not fallen into the hands of that monster, if none of this had happened. I’d have started my work visa application procedure already…Nearly 3 weeks alter, I still cannot bring myself to replying the job offer email. It’s gone, my future is gone now that I’m deprived of all the faculties needed to live like a normal person. I’m incapacitated.   Tuesday, Jan 14. I totally broke down in pieces. I could not longer keep it hush-hush about the flesh-eating, bloodsucking monster living in my head. At the grilling of my parents and a caring neighbor, all my guts were spilt. I told my father and mother who, at this point had no idea I was even gay, that I—their only son—had been violated by an ugly old beast from the former East Germany a few weeks ago.   Their response was silence, awfully long silence. I could not keep my anger under the check anymore, I started shouting, throwing things, and before I knew it , I was dealing heavy blows to my poor,  scrawny mother. She suffered internal bleedings and had pains all around her waist, as a result. I fractured my big toe kicking her.   I ran out and hid away in a cafe the whole day yesterday, only to return home late at night to sleep. Tears were streaming down their cheeks on seeing me. What had I done to the most innocent people in the whole wide world, the most caring, loving souls who’s given up everything to send me to Germany. Oh my lord what have I done?!! So now I’m officially a monster too, aren’t I . Indeed I’ve morphed into a monster in my own right, after having been bitten by that monster named Hubert. Oh Hubert, what a name! I CURSE THE DAY HE WAS BORN! I CURSE THE FILTHY WOMB THAT HAD CARRIED HIM!!
  2. Over the past 7 months since my relocation to Berlin, Germany, I have experienced my fair share of cultural shocks, of which most are positive and non-consequential, that have enriched my experience living abroad, in general.  Then there’re some negative ones, too. In most cases, they can also be chalked up to ‘growing pain’, a tuition fee if you will, to get to know the free-market system that’s kept German economy so strong and alive in spite of the status of a welfare state and the harsh global economic environment—at the expenses of fundamental consumer rights of the tens of millions living here. As a new comer in Germany, people would warn you against putting down your signature on any legally binding contracts before poring over each word in the writing a few times over. The obvious fact is, unless you’ve had a PHD in Germanic studies, you are unable to comprehend them to full extent as a foreigner , for even the natives sometimes struggle with their meanings, much less a wide-eyed foreigner who had no prior knowledge of German like myself. Here ’s the catch. Whenever anything goes wrong, the fault inevitably goes to you in full and you stand to lose money, ranging from a couple dozens up to thousands of euros in magnitude. With the influx of foreigners in Germany in the past decade, a few corporations smelt the blood. They began to devise and implement predatory contracts  aimed at ripping off the new-comers. Alas! What a pool of blood they have managed to cause at the cost of Germany’s good reputation.   I’ve paid, nay, been paying a hefty  price to come to that painful realization. My disastrous experience with O2, a large telecom and network provider notorious for its cheap(er) tariff, poor connection and even poorer, if not totally non-existent customer care, is but a drop of blood in the bucket, should nonetheless serve as a cautionary tale to all the newly-arrived foreigner looking for a network provider :AVOID O2, Blau by Telefonica AT ANY COST.   Back in January ,after having been in Berlin for 2 months and grown tired of the prepaid plans for network, a friend randomly suggested I could use Blau, a sister brand of O2 under the Telefonica corporate umbrella,  when I was visiting him. I told him I knew no German and would not be able to compare its plans, he said he’d help me out. Knowing just how complicated things can be in Germany without knowing the language, I took the advice. Without much discussion and objection on my part, he signed me up on the plan consisting of 3GB data, flat phone and text usage at a monthly rate of 9.99 euros for a 24 month period. I signed my name on his digital pad and all was done. Or so I thought. (Mistake #1. Lesson learnt—Don’t sign your name on any documents in Germany without understanding them to full extent!!!)   1 week later, my friend told me he had not received the sim card. On my request, he phoned them for me and was told they’d send again. 2 weeks later, still nothing. Both of us travel quite a bit, and I returned to China for holiday in Feb and forgot about the whole thing. (Mistake #2, lesson learnt—always be on top of your affairs related to a purchase since there’s usually a revocation period which can be used to protect your rights. Keep all your receipts, including that of your toilet paper) Till much later when I saw on my bank statement that I’d already been billed twice, in Feb and Mar, by Blau.   I put this forth to my friend again, whom promptly called Blau’s customer service (is not toll- free, 42 Euro cents per minute once connected) again, when they challenged his identity and why I was not contacting them myself. He explained my situation and inability to communicate in German, upon which was given the reply of ‘ask him to write us an email to explain’.   I logged on their website and could not find any email address for customer service. It was either live chat, callback or toll-not-free customer service options available on its page. I tried live chat and callback, but in order to initiate these options the user is required to log in with the phone number and password registered with the sim, which, needless to say, led to another dead end.   Though frustrated by the experience, I did not put  too much thought into it and went on about my busy life as a student, convinced they’d reach me by email or phone with a satisfactory answer in the end. ( Mistake #3. Lesson learnt—once the transaction is done, the vendors do not usually reach out to a customer unless it’s for the purpose of selling them more stuff or a callback of a faulty product. Nobody cares here.)   One month, two month, still nothing, meanwhile the deduction of 9.99 from my bank account took place like clockwork.    In May, I decided to put a stop to this blatant disrespect, to say the least, of customers.  I asked a German friend to sit by my side and translate for me while I finally dialed their German customer service line. It took 4 trials and just about 20 minutes waiting on the line before we were connected. I told the woman on the line that I’d never received their allegedly dispatched sim cards, and that I demand a full refund of the money they’d taken from my bank since January. She immediately told me that they’d not refund because I have a contract, and IT’S MY FAULT not having contacted them. I explained my situation and my previous efforts in reaching them through my German friend, to which she just replied ‘THIS IS GERMANY and naturally all things are in GERMAN. At this point my blood was boiling, I told her to find  me a satisfactory solution or I’d tell my bank to block their access to my account. To which, she robotically repeated that I have a contract with them….In the end, she told me the best she could do is send the sim card again, but there’s no compensation whatsoever although I’ve never even used their service, to which I acquiesced, numbly. I asked her to send it to my current address instead of my friend’s since he’s now away in China for an extended stay. Again, of course, she shot it down with a ‘not possible’. (Mistake #4, use your own address registered with your residency permit for online purchase or receiving any kind of delivery or else risk being at fault of a potential loss. Because it’s Germany and everything has to be exact.)   To prevent further loss, upon hang-up I immediately called my bank to order a block against Telefonica, something I ‘d never done in my life before. Cross my heart. (Mistake #5, immediate blockage of access to your fund won’t solve anything when contractually bound. They will chase you down with more clouts till you finally succumb and crumble)   An ugly picture began to take shape in front of my eyes. I finally saw it clearly : I’d been dealing with a textbook hooligan company behind which stands a profit-starved telecom group which, for the purpose of squeezing every possible cent out of the market in answer to its shareholders’ insatiable demands, would go to extreme lengths to materialize such a post-purchase sector that is in existence on paper, but in essence discourages and prevents any kind of contact with a customer once the transaction is finalized and the paper signed. O2/Blau’s so-called customer care is nothing but a front, a hoax, a clever scheme that operates in the grey zone of the federal law.   That was one month ago. On June 28, I received  another non-reply-able email invoice from Blau. The difference from the other 5 monthly consecutive billing invoice they’d sent me prior, is a short sentence run at the bottom that says, and Google Translator interpreted as: there’s been a block on your bank account, please wire 19.98euros to the XXX bank account asap. 19.98, doubled up now? Assuming that’s my penalty for default? For protecting my rather limited financial resources against the filthy claws of a bullying, blood-thirsting corporate wolf? Naturally, there’s no way to find out. Naturally, one’s expected to pay up without questioning. Naturally, this is the consumer culture here. Natürlich.     At this writing I have yet to receive a sim card from Blau, nor any phone calls from them regarding my troubles or the blocked access to my account.  Only those emails.  Those cold, templated emails one after another, making for a perfect one-way communication.   To be fair, It is possible that the sim card they’d sent on the third request has arrived at some point in the past month or so, and is now sitting in my friend’s mailbox. But there’s no way of knowing it since he won’t be back till Nov.    I’m stuck. I honestly do not know what to do with this situation. I fully acknowledge my lack of due diligence in the first place that has brought on this nightmare, for which I’ve been bitterly regretting the past month. The digital signature is mine, no doubt, and I shoulder responsibilities in this matter, but not in full.    I’ve consulted with people who studied law, one told me so long has I do not have the sim, I do not need to worry since they have not held up their end of the deal in the first place, and no fault would be found in me in the case of a civil lawsuit. In another country it would have been reassuring enough, but I’ve lived in Germany long enough to know that the German law tend to lean towards the corporates instead of the customers.    I’ve posted my experience on a few forums, and the only way out it seems, as suggested by most, are either pay up or lawyer up, the latter option would cost way much more than the first. Again, naturally, the best option is just to cough up the money plus the penalty for my ‘misbehavior’ of wanting to protect my limited financial resources. Aha, here we go! Falling right back into their scheme! Companies like O2 know this very well and count on your financial impotence to take on them to plunder you, to humiliate you, to chastise you and break you, till you’ve become one of them.   Indeed, another jaded, callous zombie roaming in our modern day society, bent on profiting anyone and anything at any cost.   Rest in peace, humanity.  Auf Wiedersehen, the age of innocence.