A young woman from China had just arrived in Munich on Wednesday afternoon and promptly boarded the S-Bahn train into the city centre after purchasing a ticket.
When a plainclothes controller came around to check tickets, she was in for a shock: the traveler hadn't realized she had to stamp the ticket and thus was technically riding illegally.
But instead of simply escorting the woman to a ticket-stamping device at the next stop, the controller started to make a scene, according to journalist Michael Praetorius, who was sitting by the woman and released a video explaining the story.
When she said that she did not have any euros on her – she had, after all, just landed in Germany not long before – Praetorius said the controller demanded to see her passport.
The journalist asked the man if he could pay the fine for the woman instead, but then the ticket man saw that she had a permit to work in Germany and assumed she had therefore deceived him because she should already know the system.
In fact, the woman later explained to the journalist that she had just arrived in Germany to start work as an au pair and had the permit beforehand.
The controller started shouting that he would take her to the police.
“Do you understand? Po-li-zei,” bellowed the controller.
At that moment, the journalist said the woman started to cry and ask for her passport back, but the man refused and again insisted that he would take her to the police.
“If I were in a foreign land where within the first 20 minutes, a man approaches me wearing civilian clothes, who didn’t show me any kind of ID or anything, and then takes my ID away and shouts ‘police, we’re going now to the police’ then I would feel extremely bewildered,” Praetorius said in the video.
The journalist tried tweeting to Deutsche Bahn about what was happening, but received a message that said they could not do anything about it.
The journalist got off the train with the woman and the controller and together went to the transit police office. But along the way, Praetorius found a cash machine and was able to pay off the woman’s fine – and get her passport back.
Since the video was posted, it has created a ‘shitstorm’ for Deutsche Bahn, as German media calls it, with the post being shared already more than 3,000 times and viewed at least 170,000 times within 24 hours.
Deutsche Bahn has since confirmed the incident took place and offered its apologies to the young woman for putting her “in such an unpleasant situation,” according to Süddeutsche Zeitung.
“We train our employees specifically with regard to such situations of conflict, so that they may act appropriately whenever possible,” Deutsche Bahn said, adding that they wanted to personally apologize to the woman.