Vorsicht Bahnverkehr – Jack

It’s amazing how fast my second week of interning at the SSB went by.  On Monday, I was once again working in the general assembly area, this time rebuilding a pneumatic suspension system that automatically compensates for the weight of extra passengers.  Tuesday was spent in the wheels and transmissions area, where there wasn’t a whole lot that I could do, but it was worth it just to talk with the guys there in German.  On Tuesday I also met Jens, a kid my age who had already been working in the workshop for 6 months, full-time.  He had gone through a Realschule, one of the types of German secondary education, and then completed a three-year apprenticeship/technical training program at the SSB, some of which looked similar to the things I’ll be doing in college next year. For Wednesday morning, I was assigned to the special vehicles department, and ended up turning the brakes on an electric locomotive on and off for two hours as they tried to discover a pressure leak.  Tons of fun.  The afternoon though, I spent in the deconstruction/demolition area, which I though was great fun.  My task was this: unbolt old chairs from rusty old subway cars, and pitch them into a dumpster.

On Thursday, I was assigned to the body shop area, where the entire day’s workload consisted of swapping out one panel. “Easy,” Michael, the guy I was working with assured me.  As 11:00 am came and went, it was looking less and less easy.  After multiple cuts and measurements, we finally got it into place, and spent the rest of the day hanging around with the guys from the general repair area.  It felt really nice be so well-integrated with a group of guys who I had been working with for only two weeks.  Unfortunately, it was my last day in the main workshop, as the next day, I learned while talking with my internship coordinator, Christian, I would be in the driver training school for Friday, my final day.

On Friday, I arrived at the driver training school, not really knowing what to expect.  After listening to a brief lecture from the instructor on what to do about suspicious packages found in the U-bahn cars, we (myself and two actual trainees) headed out to a train.  As we walked to the cab, the instructor waved me forward to the seat, and gave me a short guide to how to drive an U-bahn.  I then got to drive around the complex for a little while, and then headed out on the active line.  It was pretty amazing, to say the least.  It was a fitting end to an awesome internship, actually experiencing what the people in the workshop have been working to produce.

I am very grateful to all of those who helped make this project a success, especially Christian, Marcella, Stephan, Valentin, and Franziska!  now off to Hamburg!

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