Tag: work

Rattle. No Roll

Yet. I am still a bit rattled.
If you follow my waffle here – for what I am thankful – you may remember that I took up a job as driver some moons ago. It is a job to pay the rent, really. That’s how it started, nowadays I would miss the boys if I’d get the chance to work in my profession again, but I’d do this without any question and hesitation. BTW I had a job interview two weeks ago, well, I’m still driving. But it was very nice to see that I am at least still eligible.
I do not write about the day job here, simply because it is just what it is, and because I do not want to be whining.
A driver drives, I do more than three thousand kilometers a month in the vehicle, a pretty large, white, diesel-powered passenger transporter fitted out for the special demands my passengers have. I drive on Bundesstraßen, A-roads, Landstraßen, B-roads, and narrow country lanes. I avoid autobahn, especially when my passengers are aboard. It is simply a risk I do not want to take.
On average it is all three months that a dangerous situation occurs – dangerous as in : A heavy impact is narrowly avoided – and every time this happened on slip roads or on motorway-style enlarged A-roads. On the country lanes everybody, with the notable exception of the dumb boy racer in his old testosterone-fulled BMW or Golf GTI, is careful, the professionals know what they can do with their vehicles. And if it takes ten minutes more, so what ?
The guy who tried to wipe out my codriver and me this evening on the other hand needs a special award.
I was on a motorway-style A-road in the fast lane (that is the left one on the continent). From the right a motorway exit slip feeds in, while to the left is a motorway access regulated by traffic signals. I was not particular fast, noticed a red car on the far right well ahead, my codriver was telling a story. Next I know is that the red car was basically vertically coming from the right, crossing over all lanes to reach the slip road to my left, I was in the process of t-boning him. Thankfully nothing was to my right while I pulled the vehicle over, heavy on the brakes, sliding on the mean trickle we had for the whole day.
While I was still rolling ahead & sorting my gears to stabilise my swaying bus the little piece of crap came back. It was seemingly not the gateway he liked, or the red lights did not match his seats, or maybe he just wanted to avoid ramming the car that was waiting at this damn traffic light, I do not know. All I know is that we had the same affaire again, this time from the left. He pulled in front of me less than a meter away while I was accelerating to control my vehicle and all of a sudden I thought that it would be a good idea to ram the basted to nirvana.
He drove a kind of cabriolet in red, I think it was Mercedes, and now he put the pedal to the metal and outpaced me easily. I realised that he lifted the foot when I came closer. Some hundred meters ahead to the right is a parking slot, and all of a sudden he pulled sharply to the right over the slow lane and the exit into said parking area, of course without indicator or any shown regard he rammed the car in there, still sliding with locking wheels when I thundered by. Following in would have meant a serious disaster with an unavoidable collision. I only hope he ran his car into the mud and ripped the suspension out.
All this took less time to happen than it takes you to read this, I am pretty sure it was less than ten seconds : No time to think & reflect, just action.
My vehicle took it easy, afterwards she was revving freely doing hundred km/h without any effort at 1600 rpm. Smart thing – I want to thank FORD for building a reliable and stable vehicle that one can throw around over three lanes like a wet towel without any damage done to suspension, brakes, or wheels : After more than hundred thousand kilometers, or sixty thousand miles, of heavy duty – well done !
Oh yes, thanks to the unknown driver in red, adrenalin is good, keeps the veins free from stuff. See you in three months again, bloody moron.

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Pop! Goes The Weasel

Chances are that you have heard the sound. It makes a distinct noise when a bubble bursts. And all of a sudden you stand naked & alone in the cold wet darkness. Of course you sit fully clothed at the desk in your warm appartement, but the feeling of being abandoned is overwhelming for a moment. Sometimes it is a glance or a gesture, or an email with three sentences that you read in less than two seconds. To stomach what it says, may take a wee bit longer.
Of course it was not a large bubble, but a nice one, allowed to develop not for long, so it could not become an obsession of some kind, or something to build on. Just a nice idea to follow, nice enough to raise time & effort ; initial success helped the bubble to grow, and the sceptical, more seasoned & experienced part of the self warned. Of course one listens to this, but it would be … nice, wouldn’t it ?
The bubble bursts silently, but very audible, and the quiet reverberation will stay for some time. And “time” is the master word here, a cruel master, fluid, oily, untouchable, merciless.
So I will soldier on. And drive my vehicle over narrow, muddy roads, take care for the passengers, and ignore the dents.

Two Men

The Professor is lucky. Despite his old age (he is over ninety now) he is still in full command of his body and his brains. He is the doyen in my discipline, and of course may smile when some over-enthusiastic scribbler describes him as the one “who single-handedly renovated” our field, because he was not alone – and I think he’s the first to acknowledge this. But without his institute things would have taken a different course.
When he took over the chair of a small institute in a sleepish Suebian provincial town 57 (!) years ago, das Fach was marginalised, not least because of its unfortunate history in those twelve years. When the professor was given the emeritus status some thirty years later the limited “German” horizon was opened towards an European perspective, and the 19th century “Volkskunde” was replaced with “Ethnology”, a different set of methods and approaches – without a doubt results of a process started by his institute in the late sixties.
He saw colleagues come and go, friends and adversaries. And of course it was time to step aside for the next generation, but that would not mean to fall silent, curl up, and die. A university owns this & that, he was given a working place in a dependance of his former institute, a nicely situated house in an up-market neighbourhood with gardens and narrow alley ways. There stands the desk he visits daily, the house (originally a residence house) holds some collections, a library, you get the idea.

The Ghost was nicknamed by neighbours, they called him the Schlossgespenst, the ghost of the castle, seemingly because he spoke to nobody and silently swished by on his bicycle. The Ghost was in his late sixties, and had studied a lot, among other subjects philosophy and history. As it seems, he never graduated.
Academia is not only filled with happy stories and success, there are always people who, well … are not so lucky. Some simply can not stop being a student, some can not get their stuff together and write a Magisterarbeit or a thesis, some struggle with mental problems, some simply meet an ill fate.
Whatever it was with the Ghost, he simply never left the university. He worked in different institutes as “Hilfskraft” over the years, but a “student temp” in his forties or fifties or sixties – alma mater can have a wide heart for their stumbling sons.
He occupied some rooms on the second floor of that old house more than ten years ago. I think he worked for this institute for very small money, and lived from benefits, Sozialhilfe. As I already said, mother Alma may have a big heart, but …
They offered him another flat, several times. They  threatened with eviction. Finally it was the job of a bailiff (“Gerichtsvollzieher”) and a man from the Ordnungsamt, the municipal authority responsible for public order, to get him out and clear the rooms.
The Ghost waited for them on the balcony. He took out a gun and shot at them, thankfully hurting no one, but a bullet went through one man’s sleeve. While the two men on the ground covered behind a car they noticed that the Ghost’s flat was burning. He had set fire to the appartement he should leave. They watched as he tried to go back into the rooms, but he finally decided to escape via the balcony. He slipped, and fell six meters to the ground, finally to death.
And while an emergency doctor tried to save his life, the fire brigade tried to reach the house, situated on a hill with nice gardens and narrow alley ways. When they finally arrived the fire was happily munching through the old wood beams, all that nice paper – in the end the building was totally gutted with only the outside walls remaining, declared unsafe by technicians and forbidden to enter.

All this happened last week. As I read the Professor was still travelling, on a voyage in Africa, unaware of what happened, they could not reach him.

Sunday Music

Late again, sorry. Over the weekend I fell in a vegetative state of consciousness, or un-consciousness if you prefer. I felt no inclination to communicate, to read or talk, not even music. I slept a lot, lay around and sometimes looked out of the window enjoying the lightning, the thunder, and most of all, the rush of strong rain that blanked out all other unnatural sounds. For a few moments there was even silence – silence !
Perhaps it was an uncontrolled, sub-conscious preparing for that what was to come, the start of work again. Monday morning I got up, put the working gear on and there I was again. But I was not steeled enough for the raw onslaught of sheer dumbness I encountered when my convalesced co-driver entered the cabin, sparkling from racist bigotry, half “understood” news & bloated egoism, and started the malice litany of her mishaps (of course all caused by other, jealous people), things that are wrong (basically everything), and disgusting details of her illness (baaarf !).
After some time I simply switched my brain off and decided that the jabber is just background noise, nothing else.
Read a book in those days without work ? ” – ? [gawping]” Heard some interesting music ? “Volxmusik.” – Of the humpta genre, no doubt. Did something interesting ? “Nöö, kein’ Bock …” In the end she yelled at the neighbourhood kids, pestered family members & took offense. This person is brain-dead.
And (of course ?) “interested” in soccer. And not in the game as a game, but only when “we” do play. “‘We’ ?” “Doitschland !” Not homo ludens (Ger., Eng.) but pure nationalism.
So she brought a package of tinnef (best translated as rubbish trash) containing a plastic flag of Doitschland, to clip into the car window, and two guirlandes, perhaps to strangle someone with. I stood in awe when she clipped that crap into the upper edge of her window, which in turn can not be opened anymore, because the holy flag would then fall off. This is pure humiliation. It’s the epitome of Proll, I am not sure how to translate this. Accidentally the shit fell off when I had to evade being rammed by a bus and hence had to swerve into the greenery, a compassionate branch … Let’s see how much she’s ready to spent on this.
Enough of the driver’s burden.

Last evening I was looking for a Sunday Music and stumbled upon takes of a blues singer called “Jazz” GILLUM (Ger., Eng.). Nothing special, at first hear. Mr GILLUM plays harmonica and is accompanied, among others, by Lee Conley BRADLEY (know as Big Bill Broonzy (Ger., Eng.) ; he needs no victrola, March 14th 1938).
AND a very young man on the electric guitar, called BARNES : Yes – the George BARNES (Ger., Eng.), sixteen years old ; still in the cage of the traditional blues form, but ready to jump. Together they make a little bit of history.
Hope you enjoy the music played 78 years ago. And may your co-driver be a reasonable, person, or – at least – stumm.

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