Tag: Franken

… bumblegrumble …

Ach … the clothes are in the machine which is quietly rumbling away. The room is cleared, reasonably, at least one can turn around without brushing stuff from tables – as if I had tables here – or move without raising plumes of dust. Things necessary are bought, even some unnecessary stuff, no need to go out then. Dishes washed, kitchen surfaces cleared, oh what a difference this makes ; bottles brought out.
Some things dealt with via computer, so even the desk appears to be less cramped, less paper.
Time to do something serious, like write this damn article. “… you’ll feel even better once you’ve got your article done …”, as IDV remarks absolutely aptly in the comments to the previous post, because only afterwards I can turn to the flotsam & jetsam. Good to learn btw that IDV’s blog is now reachable again, seemingly he has sorted his French troubles out.
“Write an article” – pfff, sounds a bit pompous, doesn’t it ?!
It’s just a very small scribble about a place here in the village. Promised the terrible text months ago to the friendly lady who runs this historical working group (“Arbeitskreis”) that prepares some notes about the must-see-attractions of the village. All in connection with the “Landesgartenschau” that will be held in the neighbouring “city”, and from what the adjacent villages wish to benefit in the form of visitors, tourists etc. This leads to general cleaning and brushing-up, planting of trees, revamping of garden benches, the demarcating of foot trails for avid wanderers including signs so that they don’t get lost in the Franconian wilderness. And when they stand at attractive points of interest they can point their smart phones on a sign with one of these squares that have a special name I forgot, get an internet connection and a smart voice (sometimes mine) explains what the wanderer sees – for example the “Roman Bridge“. Or tells what there is to know about the fountains – I happily got rid of this assignment – or the church, the library, you get the idea.
And I am stuck with the most unrewarding topic imaginable, even worse than the cemetery : Ein Schießplatz ! A military shooting range. Good GOd … I have a problem.
I can not think of one way to make this thing “attractive”. Especially because it is not used now for some years – the visitors will stand in front of a carefully closed metal gate decorated with a bit of rusty barbed wire – of the Nato kind with razor-blades, not the original German one.
The adjacent nice city on the banks of the river Main is today advertising itself with “Baroque” and “wine” – both things are fitting. But the city always had a military side too – remember that the most eye-catching building when you approach the town, is after all a fortress sitting on a hill over the civilian settlement. Through the nineteenth century, as Bavarian town, there was a garrison. And of course the military built-up in the 1930s did not pass the baroque beauty : New barracks, a large new military hospital, some bunkers were built in the area of the city – and a shooting range for small arms, Handfeuerwaffen (weapons you shoot while you hold them in your hands, like pistols and rifles, single action, half-automated, fully automated) was constructed on the Eastern area of this village.
On the Western side was an artillery shooting range that ignored the village’s borders. Now and then the cannoneers missed their targets and fired their grenades into the villagers’ gardens, GOd they had to learn somewhere, n’est-pas ?
The Schießplatz was used by the German Wehrmacht (“Where the fascist forces learnt their trade”- ?) until the end of the Wehrmacht. The place was put in use again by the Bundeswehr sometimes in the late fifties (I think) and at some (unknown) point taken over by the American Forces, until they relocated, reduced their forces and military bases in the whole of Germany and Middle Europe and regrouped worldwide. Then the Schießplatz was handed back via the German Federal State to the community, the village I live in – and since this day the village wonders what to do with that installation : Mountain bike fun arena ? Airsoft-blamm-splatter arena ? Just ignore and let it become a habitat for what-ever-wants-to-live-there ? No clue at all. Accepted all round is only that the public coffers are empty and that private housing is out of question.
And what do I tell the happy wanderers ? Ach …

I’m Legal Now

Why do the forces of the universe find a joyless satisfaction in allowing a human being to become ill on the first day off work ?
Is it something we’ve done ? The looks ? The fact of our mere existence ?
Coughing, wheezing, sweating in the cold Eastern, I dragged my sore body – and the pounding head ! – over the groundless Franconian paths, slippery from treacherous mud and dirt, towards the big grey house where the authority dwells, embodied in my old nemesis, Miranda the evil dwarf.
When I first entered this crumbling building years ago and wandered through its endless corridors that look and smell like dried up pea soup, I was confronted with this gerbil like creature in the Bureau for Peasant’s Affairs. But gerbils have a soul, emotions, they even feel friendliness. Miranda the evil dwarf hated all and everything, himself, the job, the peasants. So he was the natural choice for the first desk opposite the entrance to the dimly lid file storage room that he controlled by miasmatic disdainfulness, you could have sawed blocks out of it …
To my amazement the steely stare I switched on before stepping over the threshold fell on a robust youngish woman. I noticed that the room was distinctly brighter, I was offered a chair ! Miranda seemingly is retired, maybe he kicked the bucket or simply vanished in the cellar to everybody’s relief. He took with him the nineteenhundredthirty’s ameublement, the pus coloured curtains, and the smell of fear & despair I remembered so well.
The young woman nevertheless interrogated me about personal details, like my hight (no idea), the colour of my eyes (changes, but there is always green in it), and put special emphasis on my nationality (“Coburgian”, what was dismissed). I never held two different passports, and – that was new to me – never served in foreign regular forces, thus acquiring a second nationality.
In front of me on the desk was a little thing like a tablet, like something you find in a shop, where you put the money down. It turned out to be a tablet and there I was shown the forms she had filled out, was asked to read through and control the details, and signed it with a stylo. I asked, it is a valid signature.
The new ID-card comes in the form of a cheque card size plastic piece with an embedded chip that stores my personal data and, if I allow it, the fingerprints of both forefingers (no way !). It also allows my identification online, valid for legal transactions ; but for this I’d need special soft~ and hardware, particularly a reader for the ID card.
I relinquished this functionalities, simply because I could not figure out circumstances in which I would need this. I avoid online-transactions generally, and can not think of a situation where I would need valid identification for a legally binding transaction via web – like … what ? Buying a house – no, I want a contract on paper and see who signs it. Opening an account at this respected Russian bank on The Caymans ? There are specialists for this, and again, you must see a person – hence you know whom to shoot when you are ruined …
The lady checked the photographic portrait I had acquired for expensive money, looked at it a bit quizzical, but it did fit into some scheme she used, and she glued it on a form. I payed my thirty Euro, one last signature (“This is the one that will be on the card.”), and that was it.
They send the whole stuff digitally to Berlin, the Bundesdruckerei (not G&D, I asked the lady, and she was firm about this : they cheated) will start the press, and sometime after Easter I will have a new, valid ID-card.
I went back through gardens of budding blossoms, cheered up by the distant laughter of children, wiping the image of an ugly mean dwarf from my memory.

Why Me ?

The last week started positive with all this de-cluttering and re-possessing of my appartement, but of course the forces who run the universe did not like it to stay this way, with a punctual positive overload impending. So they looked at the chart and decided to clip something else that is positive, and some mean minor deity with a bad hangover had the grand idea to give me a new co-driver.
I miss Ms F. Intelligent, witty, with a broad range of interests, she was never boring company. I still have a book she lent me. And I want to know what happens to her ill cat.
Now I will drive over land, delivering kids in villages I never knew existed, in generally Western direction, crossing the border to Baden-Württemberg. My new co-driver lives at the other end of town, a 20 minutes drive away ; and we have to leave together at least one hour earlier than on my previous route, so it is the real damn dark morning (thank You, Savannah, it is a very good expression !) from mid-November onwards. I’ll start earlier & will come back later (and drive additional one hundred kilometers each day), I only hope that there is more cash in it.
It came as a surprise, out of the blue. As I mentioned in the comments for the last post, I was told about this on Thursday morning & on Frayday midday I sat in another bus.
And this is a real change, because I found meself in a kind of rolling living room : With a cushion on the driver’s seat, and things dangling from the rear-view mirror. With cup holders filled up with these damn green “Eukalyptusbonbons” I hate from the bottom of my heart. And a kind a matriarch enthroned all over it. And to make things worse, a recently widowed matriarch, who was doing this route with her late husband for years – no wonder that the colleague I changed the car with, was beaming all over and could not get fast enough in my wonderfully sterile, clean & impersonal vehicle, driving it to the horizon … with my cool co-driver in it … basted …
To be just, he phoned me later in the evening, and we had a nice and informative chat about the whole thing. The reason for this changing of horses simply lies in that we had to write down our distances, times etc. (as it is done regularly once a year, it’s called Kilometrierung), and a result was that my colleague can not do this route & these hours with his kind of contract (he’s already retired etcetc.).
I am far away from retirement, and have a different kind of contract / employment. And because the matriarch’s husband died all of a sudden they needed a replacement very fast, basically from one day to the next (really !), and the finer points simply were skipped for the time being. When they had evaluated the drivers’ scribblings they found that something needed to be changed, and huzza I’m sitting in a dead man’s seat and drive around with his grieving widow. At least he did not die at the wheel, that would be a bit too much, even for me.
First thing I did was to throw out that terrible cushion, dump these horrible “Eukalyptusbonbons”, and change the radio to the classic station.
The passengers are five boys, I just saw four of them on this first, and so far, only drive, so have no clue about them. One has to use an electrical wheelchair, a pretty sophisticated model as I noticed, and my antecessor saied that this boy would be the most interesting & lively, interested in anything from art to history and in between. Sadly he sits the farthermost in the back of the car. I did not really go through the boxes and known stacking places yet, but I saw in one of the boxes some ripped out pages from the Fahrtenbuch … well, humph, he had really no time to get his stuff sorted …
The route is interesting, it is really right into the middle of nowhere, nice landscape, little villages, narrow roads … next week I’ll get winter tyres, and I am very sure that I’ll need them. Without the matriarch’s navigating I’d be lost. She gives clear directions, knows where to watch out for what, and makes no nonsense when it is necessary to manoeuver the vehicle backwards in tight spaces, so I do not have to worry about her loosing a leg or so.
Grief, payne and hopelessness I felt creeping in at me last Frayday in this vehicle, but I’m not in the mood to give in. I only wonder whether my “venerated” Fahrdienstleiter intentionally gave this drive to me. I saw a bit of panic in his eyes when he had to face my previous co-driver, and when she made a small remark that could be interpreted as if she did not like what happened. After all the lady is there longer than anyone else, and do not get fooled, the co-driving mothers are in the end those who do accept, or not, who is driving where, under them.
Anyway, it’s a week off before I start to drive into the foggy, dark & cold wilderness of Franconian outskirts. And I have a place of warmth and hope I come back to. So why not ? Others did this before me. They just died …

Plans, eh ?!

Leaving in the ddm, spending the larger part of the day by looking at tons of papers, plans mostly ; all of a sudden in the late afternoon one finds oneself standing in front of some people who want to go home, presenting a project one has  – sorry for the rude expression – pulled out of the derrière in the early afternoon over two cups of coffee, or, to be correct, one chocolate and one coffee. What started as a “come over and have a look at our plans”-trip morphed into (the vague chance of) a full-scale project of at least nine months, or possibly more. Frightening and funny at the same time.
One part of the archive materials is stored in a 1902 madhouse. The guide would marvel at the impressing construction of the windows (“vandalenfest”) ; the sophisticated way of in-direct lightning and the very modern heating installations ; the unbreakable doors ; yeah, very impressive cell, state of the art in times of Emperor Wilhelm II. Nevertheless the doors are carefully blocked with stuff, so they don’t slam shut, and the whole building is downright nightmare-inducing – thank you, I won’t work there and do not want to see the small exhibition on the first floor. Especially when I’d have to pass the modern high-security facility next door in the evening. Even on this sunny afternoon it gave the impression of a 1943 prisoner of war camp.
It was an exhausting, and perhaps promising, expedition into Middle Franconia. If there should ever materialize a project, it would start in spring 2016 earliest, all their budget-planning for this year is through, all this needs a long notice – einen langen Vorlauf, while everybody else lives hand-to-mouth, oh hell yeah, we’re flexible.
No, I do not want to mumblegrumblegrouse. I just look in astonishment at the way public administration is doing business, it’s always astounding again. I should be used to it now, working as a trigger man in the public sector of culture is nothing new to me, and here my role would be to cover the head-honcho’s derrière against attacks, simply because the job (the whole project as it constitutes itself right now) involves to get rid of a lot of stuff. And nothing is worse than to cull materials, files, plans esp. from an archive, one needs a very good explanation for doing this. You can easily get things into an archive, you can barely get them out. And given the history of the institution in question, their more or less hostile relation with the responsible archive of the state, I can’t help but feel like being elected for the position of scapegoat.
I have the feeling that I shouldn’t worry now. Pay me and I shred it. After all it’s just paper, this brittle stuff they used for copies all through the last century, and besides me and one or two blokes who want to get rid of the stuff, nobody will know what was in there. And let’s be honest, most of these ten thousand files are simply nonsense.
But it’s nothing to built on, just a vague promise, so I’ll keep my hand in the lottery, and drive kiddies, that’s an honest job after all.