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 …


You leave your village for some days, and when you come back … tz … My neighbour – you remember the guy in the wheelchair ? – is hospitalised and already operated, they removed some stones out of his body. And not one, but two, houses burnt down while I was away, within some hours & within sight from the bureau of mago Inc. : Things always happen while one is not there.

While I was in Hassia and busily doing mago-things I visited the parochial church – and promptly found this :


The Plaque in Total, Note the List of Surnames at the Bottom
The plaque in total, note the list of family names at the bottom


The English Text in Detail
The English Text in Detail


Those adventurous Hassians went to Australia, namely to Ballarat and Bendigo – what reminded me of dearest Princess : Darling, maybe I spent some days in the village your ancestors came from ?
The “events” mentioned in the text above are the Napoleonic wars and their aftermath. The village was since the high middle-ages in the possession of the Malteserritter, the knights of Malta (Ger., Eng.) – yep, those with the falcon.
In 1810 the Prussian state decided that it had enough from the Protestant branch of the knights, the Johanniterorden, and disbanded the group, selling their possessions to fill up the coffer, because our good friend Napoleon demanded reparations.
Land & anything that belonged to it, the whole structure, was sold to a well-financed businessman from Frankfurt/Main. He treated the whole thing as investment and – of course rightfully – did not prolong the lease contracts : The knights had leased out the land to farmers, in part for some pretty long time (basically since the 13th century), and all of a sudden this came to an end, not totally abrupt, but in the course of some years. Add some bad harvests, the political and social development of the early 19th century in rural areas – so it’s no wonder that the number of the village’s inhabitants halved from the beginning (circa 2000 souls) to the middle of the century. The church of the knights became a cowshed.
So – yippieahjeah – if there’s gold to be found in California or Australia, why not pick it up ? It can only get better, can’t it ?
The Protestant order of St. John’s hospital was re-organised in the 1850s, and shortly before the church, and what was left, was sold to be torn down, the duke of Hassia intervened, bought the ruins and presented it to the order. The knights accepted the gift and did what they could do best, re-model the old farmhouse into a hospital, which was running until the 1970s. Today there’s a kind of conference centre.