Love it or leave it

by Lorenzo Piccoli

There is something I hate about this place. And I am starting to realize what it is.

Brussels is one of the most dangerous cities in Europe. If you are a girl and you walk alone in the streets, there is a reasonable chance you will get robbed, stabbed or raped – or all the above at the same time. But this is not the annoying thing. I mean, obviously this is extremely annoying, but there’s something even worse that is: the system. The other night – it was Friday – I was coming back home with Mindo. Just outside our apartment we saw a huge police crowd. I counted the number of police cars in the street and they were 13. “Woah! Something terrible should have happened“. No: the truth is that they were there just to test the level of alcohol in the streets. That night Bruxelles was safer than usual: while girls were getting robbed, stabbed and raped, 13 police cars were enforcing the law with their alcohol tests.

You can blame it on the police. But the problem is much wider. It is the system that is completely stupid. Another example. On Monday I go to the station and wait in the line to buy one train ticket. Then one girl breaks the line as her train is just about to leave. She tells the cashier all the people in the queue agreed to let her pass. (We hadn’t. But this is won’t affect my story). The cashier resolutely refuses and says that this is just unacceptable.

The girl missed her train. The cashier walked home happy as he had successfully survived another day respecting and enforcing the rules. This insanely stupid attitude is reflected in every single thing around. Most of the people here use the metro almost every day. Yet, the metro system looks terribly ugly as it has been under renovation for decades and still there is no end in sight. The problem is, I think, that people here focus on the small details, on the rigid observation of the rules, on saving the appearances. But then they completely loose sight of the big picture.