A creamy cup of coffee and a half hour to kill before we meet up in town to take a look at wallpaper, paint and all those things you need when you move. And what better place to sit and enjoy a cup of milky, thick coffee than in a mall – or something which claims to be a mall because it has a supermarket, a restaurant, a bakery, a florist, a hairdresser and a clothes shop – where I can watch the people go here and there about their early morning routine.
My routine, as many already know, is very relaxed. I spend a lot of time in the library, attend the occasional lecture in Bremen – just for fun! – and research for the next hurdle in my education. I am pushing myself, it’s not a life of ease, but, now and then, a cup of coffee and a little shopping has to be on my list of things to do. And I can’t let her do all the shopping for our house, my taste in colors and decorations has to be in there somewhere too!
What would be the most depressing job you can imagine? By job, I mean out in the public eye where everyone can see you. Walmart Greeter? Yes, I can top that one with the Japanese women who wait before the lifts in major, high-quality shops and department stores in Tokyo and whose only job is to bow and wish the customers, in the lift or coming out of it, a good day.
I can top that one too, and I believe that I have actually found the most depressing, the most mundane, the most senseless job anyone could possibly have, right here in Germany. Two people standing in the entrance to this ‘mall’ and doing a promotion for the hairdressing shop where they work.
Photo Source: Waferboard – Creative Commons
Nothing strange or depressing about that, you may well claim, but you weren’t there. You didn’t see them. Their promotion consisted of distributing small, empty, plastic bags to everyone who came through the door and would accept them. No free gift, no enticement to have a new haircut; an empty plastic bag from a hairdressing salon.
And, of course, I had to wonder over the ample woman – which is a polite, almost politically correct way of saying that she had too many pounds on her broad hips and, as you may well also know, I am not one for political correct – who engaged the saleswoman at the bakery in an interesting conversation over cakes and pastries. She wanted something for her morning break, aside from the six bread rolls she’d already chosen, and was considering the different pastries on offer. This is a German bakery, which means that the products are fresh and hand-made. They don’t pop out of a machine, get baked and then stuffed into a box. Each one is individual.
This woman was visually sorting through which of the pastries she wanted to have, by size. She complained that some were bigger than others – hand-made, remember? – and that the bigger ones were not the ones she would be offered since, as is the way of things, they were at the front of the display, and the saleswoman took her selection from the back, nearest her. Clearly this broad woman – another word for too much fat above her legs, beneath her neck – wasn’t going for the slightly smaller ones. She picked out the biggest and insisted on having just those, and no others.
For anyone who is wondering: it’s not a disease. I consider anorexia to be a disease of the mind which is, to a certain extent, made worse by society. I do not consider someone who waddles through town with a one-size-too-small outfit on, to spare her feelings, ill no matter how much weight she (and that goes for men too!) may have on her hips. If she’s stuffed her face with all those products containing sugar and fat, then she should face up to her actions and accept the consequences. It’s not body-shaming, although I am sure some bright politically correct spark will chastise me, it’s a fact of life.
And I, happy not to have suffered the call of fresh cakes and pastries, and careful to avoid the plastic-bag offerings at the main entrance, will pick out wallpaper which makes the rooms look svelte and sexy or, at the very least, designs I can feel comfortable living with.
- Viktoria Michaelis.