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Used refrigerators changed my life.

When I was sixteen, I had a serious run-in with my mother over a tube of toothpaste that I had squeezed at the wrong end. I moved out. In spite of their broken hearts, my parents continued to support me. (By now things are back to normal again; I see them every week. Anyway.)

I was young, I had red dye in my hair, I had a 38 square meter room in the more benign part of Berlin, Kreuzberg, and I wanted to furnish it entirely with discarded refrigerators. To obtain those, my mother recommended visiting Tilo Stöhr, a large shop selling used and new electronic devices. (That she goes along with stuff like that is part of the reason the relationship with my parents isn't as bad as it could be.)

``Hi, got any spare fridges?'' is not a question that electronics sales personell is prepared to answer, but I eventually made it to the lot, where both spare and non-spare fridges where stacked in abundance.

My path was blocked by a small crowd of people, employees by their dress, who surrounded a fat man. The fat man knelt in front of a soap box car that was dripping with paint, and tried to apply more paint to it through a pathetic piece of cardboard cut to the `rocket exhaust' shape he wanted to paint. The paint, too wet for brush application, ran down the inside of the cardboard and down the car, and made a general mess of it.

I elbowed my way into the circle, took his brush away, took the template away, wiped off most of the old paint, and painted the exhausts on and two cartoon eyes. I guess that's as close to superhero status that I came that year. I can't fight, I can't fly, but if you face peer group humiliation because you can't draw cartoon eyes, don't hesitate, call me.

While the eyes dried, the man, who turned out to be Tilo Stöhr, asked me whether I would like an internship in an advertising agency. I said ``Sure.'' I still had to finish school, but that would be over in a few months and I still didn't know what to do afterwards.

A few months later, the agency dutifully called, and I started to work for a year as an intern. (We originally had planned half a year, but after that half they suggested to retroactively pay me a very small sum, and I started taking oddjobs as a freelancer.)