In the late 1990s I was sent as a reporter to Utrecht Central Station and the Hoog Catharijne shopping center that was covered in the station parking lot. The outcome was certain in advance, I would have found humiliating circumstances.
“I expected it to be more terrifying,” said the editor of the weekly during the review, who was secretly hoping that I wouldn’t survive the agreed-upon 24 hours. It was sloppy, unpleasant, and uncomfortable, but I didn’t experience any real abuse, as much as I wanted to.
Last Friday I had to think to myself when a series of coincidences forced me to survive a few hours in Utrecht Central. On which seat did you play co-journalist with a sleeping bag? Or was the seat replaced, like almost all station furniture?
After handing in my paper I never really thought about this place again, it was just like it often is hit and runBut what seemed impossible at the time was finally realized. Utrecht Central Station has become a new, safe and accessible place with catering establishments without a toilet.
After a few hours I walked out of boredom to Hoog Catharijne, which now calls itself ‘Hoog Catharijne The Mall’. Without a clear goal, I ended up at MediaMarkt, where my “VAT Gone With It” days began. Only a few feet away I found the exact electronic toothbrush a friend wanted for her birthday. A hasty employee said that the shortage of personnel made itself felt. The woman from the consumer electronics department who was the only one who knew where the boxes containing the electronic toothbrushes in question were located, was already talking to another customer.
The man did not walk up to her, but called her with a walkie-talkie. She pulled her walkie-talkie from her belt. I looked at him, then she looked at me. He came to say it would take a while because she was having a sales conversation about an electric scooter. And now he will help me himself.
We walked from bin to bin.
Toothbrushes are getting smarter, he said, but do I know who really got smart?
Will he have a moment?
Show off a razor who knew exactly how to get the best shave after the first shave. “He really knows you.”
We didn’t find the right box, if I were him he would just walk around the mall and try again half an hour later. In fact, everything about Utrecht CS just got better and smarter, except for the people.
Marcel van Roosmalen He writes an exchange column with Elaine Dikowitz here.
A version of this article also appeared in the January 30, 2023 Journal
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