WHAT TO EXPECT
THE CAST OF THIS DRAMA
GERMAN LANGUAGE VERSION
WEDNESDAY 06 SEPTEMBER 2001
All quiet on the Kaiser's front recently. Most visits in the past few weeks have passed by with nothing to tell.
Even Scabby Rodent Woman hasn't been able to irritate me, although she seems intent on doing so.
But yesterday, a new horrific person entered my life. A woman I've not seen before who was working in the bakery part of Kaiser's. She looks like a skinned mole in an orange clown wig. I'm standing there waiting to get my bread, no other customers, she's not actually doing anything, sees me stood there, then begins to write stuff down. And continues for 30 seconds, while I'm just stood there waiting.
Eventually she slowly looks up at me like I'm this huge irritation to her. I ask for my bread, in German, and she slowly, so fucking slowly, walks to the bread in question. Slowly walks to the cash register, slowly rings up the price and tells me how much I owe her. She takes my money like I've just spit on it. Frankly, I wish I had've spit on. She deserved it.
TUESDAY 07 AUGUST 2001
Last night. Uurgh, last night. Last night, I had the choice: Vinegar Woman or Scabby Rodent Woman.
The queue for Scabby Rodent Woman was shorter, so I took a deep breath and took my place. I watched as each customer got the same shabby scabby treatment. When it was my turn, the sky outside turned black, I heard a few wolves howling, and my shopping flew across the barcode scanner. She told me the price, I searched for the correct money. All this time she was staring at some unspecified thing in the distance. I held out the money. When she noticed it was there, she put her hand out. In doing so, her hand briefly touched mine. A sudden crack of lightning lit up the sky outside, her eyes glowed red for a brief moment, cats hissed, bats flew from the rafters and the sculptures on several old buildings started to crumble like in Ghostbusters. You may think I'm exaggerating, and you'd be right. I never saw any cats.
SUNDAY 05 AUGUST 2001
Not a huge amount to report on the Kaiser's front. I've not been in there much in the last week.
My one visit was brief and i bought bread from the bakery part of the store, and the girl there seemed thoroughly pleasant, trying not to laugh at my pathetic use of the German language.
I've not seen Scabby Rodent Woman for ages now. Thank you, God. Either (a) she's on holiday visiting her pals in Hell or (b) I've been lucky and managed to avoid her.
I got mail from a couple of nice German folk who seemed to empathise with my experiences in Kaiser's. It seems that everyone has their own Kaiser's equivalent. Roland tells me that there's a word for it, "Dienstleistungswueste", which apparently means "service desert".
This seems to be true, as I was in Karstadt (a big department store) buying a fairly expensive quite heavy electrical item. When I enquired as to the availability of said object, the assistant (male, balding, chubby, in his 40s) went to check then came back a couple of minutes later saying he thinks they have one, but do i definitely want it, cos he has to go check out the back. YES I WANT IT! Now go and check! I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want it. So, I'm about to pay, and the guy at the checkout is so snooty, you'd think I wrote a cheque for a pack of chewing gum rather than cash for a fairly expensive quite heavy electrical item.
But, I didn't let it get me down, cos I now feel better, cos I write this stuff down here, freeing me of the, err, pain.
MONDAY 30 JULY 2001
So, on Saturday morning, I went to meet a friend for breakfast. Instead of our usual cafe visit, we went and bought the necessary ingredients and assembled our own breakfast. We bought the ingredients from her local Kaiser's. Ooh, a new Kaiser's to try out. Yippee.
We're in the queue with our trolley. The lady who's gonna be shortly servicing us is early 30s, very dark tan, bleached hair. No outward sign whether it's gonna be good or bad. But, hark! she says hello. she smiles. i say hello and smile back. She asks for the money. I hand it over, she says thank you. Result. I even get wished a good day after i say goodbye.
This made me smile a lot. I even giggle. This is now my favourite Kaiser's.
SATURDAY 28 JULY 2001
I went to Kaiser's last night. I was okay. Just a few days of writing stuff here makes my visits better.
I was very late last night, I got there a couple of minutes before they were closing. The window shutters were coming down moments after I entered. I find this unnerving. It's like the building itself is telling you to get out, you are no longer welcome. I get my milk and orange juice and a bag of Maltesers because it's Friday night and I'm feeling light.
There are three people on checkouts. Two have queues, one is empty. I wonder why. The woman at the empty queue looks nice, I've not seen her before. But I hold back, there's surely a reason why no one is in line for her. And there was. A guy with a trolley piled high with stuff sauntered up, and she barked at him to go away (I'm guessing that's what she barked, anyway).
So, I'm in the queue to be served by the woman who looks like a school dinner lady. She looks suspiciously at the bloke in front of me in the queue. He has a dirty baseball cap and a big glistening bloody cut on his cheek. He buys milk and ice tea and all the time gets a look of suspicion from School Dinner Lady.
Now it's my turn. I say hello and smile. Nothing. My food pelts across the scanner like tennis balls out of the machine tennis players practice with. DM25.30 she says, whilst staring at the floor, like she's trying to move a penny with her toes. I pay. I say thank you. I leave. But I feel good. I'm starting to enjoy the lack of humanity. It's almost funny.
THURSDAY 26 JULY 2001
A relatively calm visit today.
It helped by entering the store in a positive frame of mind. I was whistling an old favourite from my childhood.
It soon changed as I approached the checkout, (no queue, though, which was pretty cool).
Today's glorious assistant was Vinegar Woman. Probably about mid fifties, looks like, as a grandmother, she could be a decent human, but the minute the red Kaiser's uniform comes on, she looks like she'd kick a blind man's dog.
I got away with only mild disinterest from her today. I was lucky. I tried to test her patience by rummaging in my pocket for the exact change for a bit longer than was necessary. All the time though, she wasn't even paying attention. She was staring at the sunglasses rack over the top of her react-a-light old lady spectacles (you know the ones). As expected, no please, no thank you. I said thank you in an insanely jolly manner, just to irritate her.
TUESDAY 24 JULY 2001
Punished by a greater being for the Glance Of Hate, I got stuck in the queue being serviced by Scabby Rodent Woman.
Received no eye contact, no please, no thank you. Although, my change did make it to my hand this time.
MONDAY 23 JULY 2001
The main focus of my anger is the Scabby Looking Rodent Woman. She's very rude. Never a please or thank you, never anything other than a frown. Just dragging my purchases over the barcode scanning thing, demanding an amount of money, then throwing the receipt in my general direction at the end of the transaction. If I have some change coming my way, invariably she passes my outstretched hand and places it on the conveyor belt thing. This irritates me immensely.
Tonight I saw the Scabby Looking Rodent Woman on the U bahn (underground, tube, metro, whatever) as I was travelling to Alexanderplatz.
To see her in civvies was a tad unnerving.
Flashed a glance of hate at her, then continued reading my book.
When I got off, made sure not to look at her, for fear of infecting my evening.