US citizen departing Frankfurt airport, forced by immigration to pay €1,000 cash, for a fine that accrued interest over 5 years, for not paying a €2.50 U-Bahn public transport ticket

I originally posted this last night on Trip Advisor, however it was deemed not appropriate, and removed.

US citizen departing Frankfurt airport forced by immigration to pay €1,000 cash, for a fine that accrued interest over 5 years, for not paying a €2.50 U-Bahn public transport ticket

Arriving at the Frankfurt airport in time to investigate duty free electronic stores for an electrical adapter and voltage swing protector, I was halted by a 25 year old officer who, observing his computer screen unsmilingly, asked in German something a train in Berlin. I lived there years earlier, and I figured that he was alluding to a time I was caught on the U-Bahn without a ticket, 3, 5 or 7 years ago. Having left the country abruptly right before Christmas 2012, I wasn’t aware that this was accruing interest. I guess in our electronic world in which these records endure, they weren’t able to contact me by email to inform me, that would have been to, uh, sophisticated.

I explained in my best German that I hadn’t been living in the country, and in fact can prove with residence and employment records where I’ve been living the last few years. This information was disregarded. He would not listen to any explanation. I was treated with hostility, almost aggression. I guess that being a frugal artist/writer and enjoying pouring time into creativity is not permissible, in a world that is looking one-dimensionally in terms of the GDP instead of quality. The officer walked into a room among 6 or so other colleagues and to my astonishment, through the glass wall I saw him laughing and smirking. Towards me he was cold and threatening, using intimidation. He told me I either must hand him €1,000 in cash from the ATM, conveniently located several yards away, or go to jail for 15 days. So the fine for riding without a €2.50 train ticket, rose with interest through the years to an easy, rounded number of €1,000. Since then I discovered that with the exchange rate to USD and $66 transaction fee at that ATM and additional $39 foreign transaction fee at this same ATM, added up to costing 1,431.19 USD. As I watched them laughing with one another,  I took a photograph. Another young officer dashed out of the office at first demanding my phone, and receded when I deleted it before him. Considering the fact that the other option was jail (which I would have done as the frugal artist that I am), it isn’t really an option. It’s like complete coercion. The traveler has no choice. When one has planned, prepared and paid for an anticipated travel, it’s sort of the perfect situation to extract this money with ease. Extortion was the word that came to mind; using intimidation and authority in circumstances that almost 99.99% of the time passengers would prefer to hand over the requested exorbitant amount of cash. Little alternative, in addition to paying for an eTicket and Indian eVISA. I was ultimately deported, for a pdf file of my passport being fuzzy, due to the fact that it was initially scanned improperly at the copy shop, and I hadn’t stated the 1st time what dimensions it needed to be, another language barrier and naiveté on my part. I was making this trip to ultimately follow my passion, complete a book I’m writing and to continue to write blogs, compose music…Poverty is punished in the modern world of globalization and finance. So the budget traveler with 2 small backpacks, sleeping bag and intention to volunteer with elephants and do work/living exchanges with people through workaway, now is $2,000 dollars in debt. And absolutely delighted with the experience I had with charming and bright people who enriched my world through our conversations and realizing that resilience and value of experience over material acquisition, is of great value. Appreciation of all of the nuances that life offers and value of the natural wonders of the world, made for a delightful trip of 7 days of travel for a 1.5 hour visit to India. 🙂 Delhi was intoxicatingly polluted, with 12 foot visibility. So nice that our world opts for measuring worth with the GDP, as we ruin the planet, are filled with fear and fueled with a desire to extract and consume, rather than to protect and strive for a harmonious relationship with the earth and all life. Just sayin’.

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About carolkeiter
Aspiring writer, artist, musician and composer who was born and raised in the United States and has resided in several European countries. Communication is my forte; both through using various tools and in approaching people of divers backgrounds to gather information. Speak conversational - advanced intermediate - French, German and Spanish. Love interacting with people in cultural centers as much as going to remote places to learn more about the different creatures that share our planet. Love of the outdoors and of a variety of outdoor sports. Driven to learn and expand my own consciousness and understanding through curiosity and love of life. Creative skills merge with analytical ones, leading to an interest in a myriad of topics; ranging from politics, economics, science to environmental. Motivated to use my art, music and writing to support and educate people towards humane practices that support and respect all of life, including practices supporting a healthy planet.

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