Trainspotting in Brussels by Charlie Weeks

I guess vending machine hot chocolate tastes the same everywhere, I thought to myself as I sipped the more-water-than-chocolate concoction to keep myself warm in the freezing Brussels train station. It was almost 3:30 am. I had probably been there for five hours, with another three hours to go before my train ride to Cologne. Everything had not gone to plan where I would have have made enough friends at a bar or club and raging it up. Unfortunately I overestimated how my body would feel after a few weeks of less than my typical amount of sleep. Perhaps I should have seen it coming after I knocked over the wine glass I drank from at this bar in London train station while I was waiting for the Eurostar. Perhaps it was an omen, but then again I do have a tendency to find meaning in things that are meaningless.

During my odyssey of staying awake and waiting, one of the things that struck me were the bums in the train station. I gather that they all were homeless, disoriented junkies who went to this station at night to seek shelter (since what else is there to do on a weekday in Brussels?). It was interesting because each bum was unique in their own way. There was an old one who had long white hair and a white beard. If he ever got into an argument with one of the younger guys, he’d always have an answer which would either shut the other bum up or get them more upset. There was the duo of middle-aged bums who would look for discarded train tickets to give reason for why they were there if the security guards questioned them for being there. And then, there was the young guy.

Now this guy came towards the end of the night. He was wearing a white buttoned down shirt with some t-shirts layered below the buttoned down shirt; with a penguin-tailed suit coat with matching black trousers and shiny black leather shoes. He looked like a handsome French guy who knew how to pick up girls from the bars or clubs in no time. That’s where I figured he came from, a night out, and he was taking a train early, just I was, and headed towards another town. He was carrying around a big, dirty and a pink roller suitcase. But, he was crazy – probably crazy enough to have picked up a girl from a club that night, gone back to her place and stole her suitcase.

At first I thought he was just drunk and high from a night out clubbing because he was constantly giggling to himself and saying things in French. At one point, a bunch of gorgeous blondes where walking across the station to which he start calling out to them ‘I don’t like pussy! But I love pussycat! Pussy! Pussy! Pussycat! Pussy! Pussy! Pussycat!’ And he just kept repeating these words out loud while the girls did a fantastic job of ignoring him. By the time they left, he said something in French to which i just shrugged and laughed at how crazy this guy was. It soon turned into a conversation between us – and by conversation I mean him saying stuff in French and me chuckling and responding ‘Dude, I have no idea what the hell your saying!’ He maniacally laughed in response. In broken English, we shared what we were doing, to which I told him I’m traveling and he that he was staying/living in Brussels. At this point I still had on how before my train would leave, but I was beginning to shake uncontrollably from how long (eight hours) I had been in this cold, night temperature. So I got up with my stuff and decided to get my blood going again by walking around the train station. I said goodbye to the fella to which he declared that we were friends (“tu est mon amis…ma cherie…same thing) – we shook hands.

As I was walking around, the station was back to its busy self. I saw security officers forcefully detain and throw bums out of the station. When I returned to the area where I waited for eight hours, the maniac was gone.