Tag: work

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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Physics

Where one physical body is the other can not be. And if forced, both collide : bang goes the mirror.
Some of the villages I drive through every day, are pretty old, so the roads and streets tend to be narrow. Usually … this morning I entered one of these bottlenecks while another vehicle came in my direction, and both left hand mirrors came into contact.
I was really flabbergasted and looked at the thing in disbelief while I was still going ahead, I realised my slow reaction and brought the car to a standstill. Walking back the other driver came my way, we chatted a bit until I realised that he was really a bit shocked. His hands were shaking when he lid a cigarette.
We had a look at my bus, and while my co-driver was busily shouting insults and then turned towards her phone to call the headquarters, I walked with the guy to his car. It was totally unharmed : The glass not shattered, the mirror’s shell unharmed (not even a scratch !), door alright, no scratches. So we decided to swap cards, he gave me the one of his chief, the owner of the vehicle, while I gave him the one of my dispatcher. He inhaled half of his ciggie while we talked about this & that, me gently ignoring his bright red swollen right eye, thankfully my co-driver was too distant to be understood. My bus only suffered from a broken mirror shell / box. Later, while a new mirror was installed (they have them stored in bulk), I talked to my dispatcher, and that was that.
After having dented my mirror I encountered at least another three near misses this morning, when idiots decided to overtake either my vehicle or oncoming traffic against any better judgement. So I felt very happy for the new brake pads that were installed some days ago, they are run-in now, that’s for sure.
In the afternoon I lost my cool a bit when someone decided to make a full turn over all lanes in front of my bus while I was approaching at nearly one hundred kilometers an hour, then he settled into slumber mode instead of pushing that damn pedal to the metal, thus gently providing me with a chance to show my driving skills. I gushed out some colourful words about the driver’s family, sexual behaviour & general capabilities, and was promptly corrected by the young man sitting next to me with a stern “Das sagt man nicht !” / “Mind your language !” Yeah, education is great. Perhaps he learned something new.
Tomorrow again, another day on the roads of Franconia. I blame the sun, it triggers the release of hormones, and especially young males in old cars with lowered suspension and fat tyres suffer from embiggified glands. Poor sods. I do my best to keep them alive, and my kids unharmed, but in the end it’s steel, a big diesel, and a prayer.

And just because, let’s go down to the crossroads – yes, old fat white man’s music, but I like it, perhaps because I am an old fat white man, and Mr Clapton still can use his fingers.

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It’s Dark

Thank GOd it’s Frayday. Just returned from my morning drive, one more turn in the early afternoon, and yahoo ! that is it ; the engine will be started on the morning of the 15th again, not one second earlier.
I do not know what made this week so exhausting – the snow ? It was not that bad, the wind was a bit scary sometimes. But the job itself is all bearable. What is not bearable at times is the foolish gibberish of some colleagues. Sometimes I wonder where these people have their brains, especially when they talk about “die” / “them”, referring to asylum seekers & refugees.
I do not like the word “Flüchtlingskrise”, perhaps best translated as “refugee crisis” – humans are no crisis.
What we see is a crisis of the European idea ; the rise of nationalism throughout Europe with a special emphasis on Eastern Europe and the post-socialist societies (where they happily chop democracy) ; a strong current of xenophobia ; partly openly racist and even neo-fascist or nationalsocialist movements in Germany and elsewhere : Only some days ago a police chief in Saxony spoke about “Pogromstimmung” in some areas there.
Some of my colleagues, the “hard-working” “salt of the earth” – I hope you get the sarcasm – have seemingly no ability (or will) to differentiate. Asked who “they” / “die”, would be it’s Auslänner, Asylande, Neecher – all the same. The sentiment is partly sheer enviousness (” ‘they’ do get everything”, “even i-phones”), or blank racism (” ‘they’ are too dumb”, ” ‘they’ just want our women”, ” ‘they’ never have learned to work”, ” ‘they’ are of no value” etc.), combined with the preference for very simple “explanations” (“Merkel ist schuld !” / “It’s all Merkel’s fault !”) and “solutions” (“Grenze zu – alle in’s Lager !” / “Borders shut, all in camps !”).
All in all it is depressing dumbness. No wonder that “AfD” and “pegida” & Co. enjoy a large clientele – the far-right “AfD” reached 12 % at the last Sonntagsfrage (“If there were elections next Sunday, which party would you vote for ?”), nationwide.
I never thought that I’d say this publicly about a conservative German chancellor, but GOd bless Angela Merkel, may she stay strong and healthy.
I only hope that the brutish simplemindedness of these zombies will not prevail.