I just returned from the village store.
I took a few cold beers from their fridge, the coldest beers around. I like that. It’s summer. Three beers.
Having a store in the village rocks. It is convenient for me, only a two minute walk away when I’m in the mood for cold beers. Or when the wet cat food is all gone and the catlings are placing urgent food orders. Or when I don’t want to walk or ride to the next larger village to shop there.
You see, our little village hasn’t enjoyed the coolness of a village shop for a while now. A lifetime ago when I last lived here, the village shop was as integral to village life as was the Gasthaus (German equivalent of Pub). It was where you got fresh baked buns, bread, milk, matches, cheese, detergent and chocolate, newspapers, magazines or candy if you were a kid. Or cigarettes if you or you parents smoked. The odd bottle of wine, beer or spirits as well.
Not too long ago I moved back to this very same village, and noted that things had changed. The store vacant, nothing happening. I was surprised to see it empty. But then again, some villages never had a store.
Ok, so I’ve only used it for my own personal reasons, some of which I’ve mentioned and much to my and others delight it also opens on Sunday mornings. More of the dread Americanization creep I figured; not all good but when there’s nothing in the pantry… Most everything other than a restaurant or Gasthaus is firmly shut up on that day of the week.
The new shopkeepers are a friendly hard working middle aged couple. He does his regular job and she minds the store. What they are up against now is that the effort to maintain the shop is just not worth the trouble. The husband told me that his wife usually starts her day at 03:00 and leaves the shop around 20:00, every day. They both lament that fact, that this little convenience store leaves no time for ‘them’. There is too little time for family and less time for decent sleep or rest. I departed the little store with a heavy feeling, a kind of dread mixed with something akin to anger.
“Why?” I’d asked. The answer stunned me a bit. Apparently it is proving impossible to find/employ reliable help for the shop. There are plenty of unemployed folks in these parts but trying to hook them up with a job seems to be like forcing square pegs into round holes. Either these people that the employment office sends their way are super picky about the hours they work or the days that they want to work or the ‘kind’ of work they are willing to perform. Not like it’s tough work but some of these employees have quietly slipped out the back instead of completing a full shift of 3 hours. The explanations to my questions seasoned with doses of frustration and a pinch of resignation.
Ok, what I don’t really know is the German employment system, not well other than having a steady job and not being unemployed. However from what I hear the unemployed are handsomely provided for and the wonderful care they enjoy, somehow gives them the excuse to be picky to the point of being unemployable. Damn the honest, hardworking entrepreneurs .
WTF Germany. Really? I drank my first beer working on the above text.
Then I got thirsty for beer number two. I got up and went to the fridge. And pulled open the door, the way I normally do. This is where reality got weird. In utter disbelief I looked on as two very cold beer bottles distanced themselves from the rack they had been place on. Surrealistically this motion continued and they smash onto the hard tile floor. A WTF moment. Fridge, really? In no kitchen I’ve called home has this happened. Not once. The bitter realization that I’d only enjoyed one out of three beers didn’t make cleaning up the mess any more fun.
That done I skedaddled over to the village store to procure replacements before they closed.
I didn’t bother to explain my plight while earnestly hoping that I not be considered an alcoholic as not an hour had passed since my last beer purchasing visit. I hurried home and put them in the fridge.
… and continued to finish the cleanup job. That done I opened the fridge again. I felt like a having a second beer. More weirdness followed. As in a slow motion clip I watched again one of the bottles detach itself from the shelf and smash onto the floor. WFT was going on? But this time I saw what had happened, observed the cause.
You see the top rack of my little fridge appears to be on the same level as the upper edge of the fridge door shelf. As I pulled the door open, normal like, the upper lip of the door shelf fit snug under the bottle cap and the pulling motion of opening the door caused the bottle(s) to be pulled off the rack.
And again my bare feet were bathed in cold dark suds and surrounded again by multi sized and wickedly sharp glass shards. Clean up time again.
My surprised wife couldn’t help but laugh and think me just a tad insane to have managed this unthinkable feat twice in one afternoon, leaving me to come up with a logically weak explanation.
The second thorough cleanup completed I promptly drank the remaining bottle lest it too dash itself to smithereens.
And so it is dear reader that I wonder if the troubles of running a doomed venture can be compared to spilled beer when the intentions are sincere rather than ill-advised.