There is a shop clerk at my local supermarket who was always so extra-nice it bordered on flirting. Some months ago, she turned from extra-nice to let’s-not-acknowledge-Secretgeek mode. A few weeks later she became almost bitchy. Then there was a time when I did not see her at all. When I went to pick up some bread today the riddle was solved: She’s very obviously pregnant. When I congratulated her, she was her sweet self again.

Also at the shop was a drifter. I know him from the streets, he’s hard to miss. The guy’s about my size, but walks somewhat bent over, which makes him appear shorter. I do not say smaller, because this guy must be at least 160 kilograms. He smells of booze and decay and his face looks like it has been rotting for some time. He cold the – about 50 years old – cashier “little girl” and tried to pick the – about 60 years old – customer behind me up. When he was pointedly ignored he turned to telling everybody what a good life he had had fighting as a mercenary in Africa for five years.

Downtown there was a beggar who asked for money. His story: His girlfriend had dumped him and he needed tickets to get home because he had to work tomorrow. Nevermind his slightly glazed eyes. Nevermind his slurry speech. Surely that’s all out of sadness because of the dumping. Nevermind that most people with jobs should be able to just go to the bank and get, say, a hundred Euro if they really have to. At least it was an original excuse. I doubt he found many people that gave money to him.

When I was at the electronics store afterwards, a young woman was trying to trade in a CD walkman. The shop keeper told her that he would accept the item if she still had the original packaging, and the receipt. She didn’t have either. She argued with the shopkeeper for 45 minutes – I only saw the tail end of it – and he finally agreed to give her 18 Euro for it. She agreed. Then the shopkeeper helped me with the questions I had. Not five minutes later, his portable phone rang: The woman was now at the cashier’s upstairs. And was arguing with him, because the 18 Euro were only paid as a gift certificate / store credit. When I left, the woman was still arguing. 18 Euro? If I take an old CD player, go all the way to the store, and return it for measly 18 Euro then I must say it would be more efficient for me to just work an extra hour and give the bloody thing away. Personally, I think it is not unlikely that she stole the CD Walkman. But who knows.

At the central station I was walking towards the pharmacy when a swarthy guy came running out of it, a female, elderly pharmacist in hot pursuit. The man ran around a corner and sprinted up the stairs. The pharmacist stopped and turned back. I approached her and asked what had happened. The man had stolen something, she said. It happened quite often. I asked her whether she needed me as a witness, for the police. “No point. Even if they catch him, they’ll never lock him up. We know. We tried.” I finally asked her what he had stolen. Some product with a very hard to memorize name. “Worth 50 Euro,” she added. I remarked that i could not see how someone might become a thief for merely 50 Euro, even if desperate. “Of course he didn’t stealt it for himself. He’ll resell it, to finance his drug addiction.” How much would he get for the thing he stole? “Maybe 7,50 Euro.”

When I left the central station, another swarthy guy asked me if I had a cigarette for him. I told him I was a non-smoker, and he replied by offering me “some crack or coke”.

Somehow, I feel depressed tonight.

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