Detroit – a year later

100258_original_R_K_B_by_Sascha Böhnke_pixelio.deI’m back again. To this town constructed for cars, but not really accommodating people. Down Town Detroit is extraordinarily beautiful, when the sunlight sparkles on the faces of the numerous skyscrapers. Now in February the temperature is at 30 degrees Fahrenheit. As you deduct 30 degrees and divide what remains by two, you will get the temperature in Celsius. Yes, it is at the freezing point, but the icy wind chills you to the bones. Add heavy snowfall and you may have the reason why you cannot see a soul outside in the streets. I have not seen one single person walking outside during my whole stay.

This may be partly due to the high crime-rate and the unusually bad weather. It has not been snowing until now and last week the temperature was at 62 degrees; one could walk around in a shirt – if somebody would indeed walk around in Detroit. But they don’t. It is cars that rule life. I have learned that during my last stay. There is practically no public transport in or around the city. No cabs due to the high crime-rate. You are left to choose between Uber, a rental car or a limousine complete with driver.

The weather forecast remains bad. Snowy and windy once again. I am afraid to be stuck with a rental car. The concept of using Uber in a crime-ridden city is not appealing. After checking the prices, the limousine seems to be a good alternative. This is how I met BIG G. He was my driver for the next few days. Big G is Afro-American and really huge. He is not scary at all because he is always laughing and in a good mood all day long. You feel better just being around him. He is very well dressed, elegant, more elegant than I am. There are no crinkles in his shirt at any given time of the day or the night. His car is perfectly clean and he cares for me as if I were his child, not his passenger.

We are spending three days together und you get to know each other. I learn that he keeps a weapon and for me this does nothing to make me feel safer, on the contrary. Big G also instructs me how to act, should we be stopped by the police or be attacked. I am sure this might be helpful in some cases, but I feel a bit cramped. Nothing was happening besides the heavy snowfall and I would have liked to ignore all other possibilities.

During my whole stay, I find it striking that people do not use their feet, other than on a treadmill. Big G thinks I am insane for wanting to walk the 500m from my hotel in a safe neighbourhood to a meeting in another building.

The CEO of a globally acting company asks me, if I want some coffee. He excuses himself, gets into his car, drives 700m to Starbucks and is back soon with two cups of coffee.

People here think very differently from me. They act differently than what I am used to and you would expect them to be distant. Alone in their cars, faced with the ever present possibility of a crime that getting into contact with strangers could mean.

However, this is not the case. Quite the contrary. Every single person I met was remarkably kind, helpful and pleasant. A perfect reason to come back.

Image source: Sascha Böhnke /

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