Five of the Week #3

I apologize for posting a Wednesday’s post on a Thursday but hey, what can you do? Here goes another Five of the week. Damn, time’s advancing quickly.
Well, I thought a lot about this week’s topic and, honestly, I didn’t know what to write about until this morning. I was, just like every Wednesday, having breakfast at a bakery that includes a café. Of course you can observe different kinds of people when sitting there eating your roll and drinking your coffee and somehow I subconsciously developed categories for some of them. But it was not until today before I got the feeling to write down my thoughts. Actually, it was an ordinary day but that should soon be different. And it was – as soon as THEY came in.

Suddenly the bakery was flooded by a group of six to eight Dutchwomen. No, I have nothing against Dutch people. It was just fascinating to watch them. Actually, it was them who nudged me to write about the different kinds of customers I encountered whenever I had breakfast in that bakery.

1. The Dutch Bees
Dutch people always come in groups of at least three people, mostly women. Once their inside they gather around the counter like a swarm of bees. When they have made their choices all but two sit down whereby they often claim two tables. The remaining two place the orders. One of those two, let’s call her the “drone”, takes the coffees and rolls to the tables once they are ready and then she goes back repeating the process until all women are well provided for. Then she sits down. This is the time the other one, the “queen bee”, joins them with her own order. Now they are all taken care of and ready to enjoy their breakfast. In case there should be something missing (sugar, milk etc.) there’s the “chosen drone” to take care of this. She stands up and fetches sugar, milk or the coins for using the toilet.
When you’re sitting in the café and observing their bee-like behavior, you’re always waiting for another Dutchwoman to come in and dance the way to the next bakery.

2. The Inquirer
Those are people who come into the bakery without having an idea of what they actually want. So, when the saleswoman wants to take the order the person at first replies: “Oh, I’m just having a look.” After a while, the saleswoman asks again and the person is still unsure of what to take: “Hm, I still don’t know. What is this?” And the answer is: “That’s a pizza with salami.” And now the game begins. The customer keeps asking what is what and the saleswoman, gradually losing her patience, answers. The question is why do people do that? There are little signs in front of everything, naming the good and even showing its price. Do these people not see the signs or do they ignore them just so they can ask questions? Maybe it’s just a trick to find out what the saleswoman knows about the things she sells. Yeah, maybe that’s it. And if she doesn’t know something exactly, for example how much vanilla pudding there is in a bun, maybe these people go home, draw a big red “X” on their calender and think “Yes, I denounced her”. Yes, maybe it’s their own private victory.

3. The Undecided
The third type of customers are those who often change their minds. I think it’s beter to give an example than to lose myself in an explanation. It was one or two weeks ago, when I was having breakfast, that a woman entered the bakery. At first she spotted the pizzas which were arranged in three rows, two of them being the same kind of pizza. The woman asked her way through the different pizzas before she chose the one in the middle, i.e. one of the two veggie pizzas that were the same.
Then the woman wanted a coffee to go because they’re cheaper than drinking them in the café. Ok, I can understand that. However, she spotted another woman whom she knew, said hello to her, went back to the counter and changed her order. Now she wanted a coffee she could drink in the café so the saleswoman could transfer the coffee from a mug to a cup.
Another example is the woman who came into the café and wanted some curd (I’m not sure on this one) with fruits on top. So, she ordered strawberry curd which they didn’t have at the bakery. The saleswoman told her “But we have wild berries” and the woman said “Well, then I’ll have raspberries.”
Writing this post I get the feeling that theses people are what the one’s who ask their way through the displayed good really want to be. This means they not only cut the saleswomen out of their patience but in the end they also want to top it all of by changing their minds and ordering something completely different.

4. Chattering the Quiet away
“I like it quite in the morning” one of the best statements I have ever heard. And it is so true. However, there are people who know perfectly well how to destroy the quiet. Imagine yourself sitting alone at a table, enjoying your coffee and your roll and suddenly there’s a loud “Excuse me” tearing you away from the quiet. If it’s just the “chosen drone” asking for sugar or milk that’s no problem because she won’t bother you anymore once she got what she came for. If it’s not the “chosen drone” you’re about to have a problem because then it’s someone, most likely the person next to you, who wants to start a conversation. Even if you are not interested you’re polite enough to reply and this sets the catastrophe in motion. If you’re really unlucky then this person will tell you the story of her life which, polite as you might be, simply doesn’t interest you. Sometimes it gets even worse and they tell you about their last operation or any bad diseases they suffered from lately. And they can really get into detail with this. So, enjoy your meal 😉
Sometimes those people tell you what they observe right at that moment which means they start talking just for the sake of talking. This is even more annoying than hearing about a divorce or anything because you can see what they observe for yourself, meaning you know what’s to come.

5. Those who throw the Rocks
People come into the bakery, place their order and take it to their seats. So far, so good. Sometimes it happens that the table they chose still has a tray on it with cups and plates. Those people, however, complain about the tray being there and that no one brought it back to the rack. They’re totally right to do so because it’s not always a pleasant sight to see the aftermath of the earlier customer’s breakfast. Consequently, the saleswoman comes, takes the tray away and apologizes a hundred times just so the customer is content and happy.
BUT…after finishing their breakfast this type of customer, the one who complained before, takes his jacket and leaves. Right, without taking his tray back to the rack. Ironic, isn’t it? The best is yet to come though. The rack is emptied regularly and always positioned at the exit. So, leaving the café and taking the tray to the rack would be the same way. Why not take it there?

The Beauty of a Summer’s Rain

“Sometimes you got to believe
Beyond yesterday
I’m gonna find my way
In the summer’s rain
In a summer’s rain”
(Savatage – Summer’s Rain)

There really is something to this. Together with the music these lyrics even have a stronger effect on the listener. Savatage was a great band (one of the best in their genre) and Jon Oliver is a great singer (yeah, the good old Mountain King) and this song is just another proof of their musical genius. But, I’m not going to write about the significance of Savatage for the Metal-genre. No, I’m going to write about a summer’s rain and the beauty it has to it.

When I had to wait for the bus again I started walking the streets to pass my time. The weather was quite warm but the sky was a deep gray. Of course it didn’t take long before it started to drizzle lightly. “Wonderful”, I thought “I have to wait for the bus and it’s gotta start raining”. Honestly, I was a bit bugged and kept on walking, silently cursing the weather.
After a while, however, I stopped mumbling into my beard and somehow I thought “Damn, there’s really something special about the rain”. That’s how I stumbled upon the beauty of a summer’s rain.

After some hot and dry summer days one is often exhausted. Heat can really give one a hard time and especially old people suffer from it.
So, after some days of unbearable warmth one starts to think “A kingdom for some rain” and similar things. This is where the beautiful part comes in.
The clouds start to form in the sky and turn from white into different shades of gray. The sun vanishes and it becomes not colder but comfortably warm and muggy. And then, when you go outside, you get that special smell in your nose – the smell of rain. Honestly, I can’t describe but I’m sure you know what I mean. If not, go outside before our after the rain and you can smell it.

Suddenly you can feel a light drizzle on your arms and on your face and you know it’s starting to rain. Actually, this is the time to go inside but not this time. No, this time you stay outside and let the rain fall down on you. Why? Because it feels wonderful. It’s not that cold and ugly type of rain. On the contrary, the drops are slightly warm. You can feel them on your face, on your arms and wherever else they hit you. It’s a wonderful feeling standing in that type of rain and somehow it’s cleansing. The rain runs down your face and it seems like everything is washed away, all the sorrow, all the sadness, all the melancholy. And then…the rain is gone.

After the rain has gone the clouds slowly vanish until there is nothing but blue sky and sunshine…and somewhere on the horizon there is a rainbow. And now you tell me this isn’t a beautiful sight. A bright and colorful rainbow just for you. Ok, actually a lot of people can see it, but who cares? Now, it’s your rainbow because it’s your moment brought to you by a summer’s rain.

When can you find your way better than in your moment?

Five of the Week #2

Second week and I’m writing again. Ha, I kept my promise and I intend do so for this year. Yes, that’s a good time span, isn’t it? Well, here we go.

Have you ever had a stressful week? I’m pretty sure you had. Well, there are also week that aren’t stressful at all. Actually, they are quite “normal”, like the usual stuff going on. However, a stressful week or not, there are times when you think “When is Friday afternoon?”. You know that, do you? And then Friday afternoon becomes evening and evening becomes night. When you open your eyes the next day, woken by the smell of fresh brewn coffee, it’s Saturday. You open the shutters and the morning sun shines right into your face. The sky is blue, it’s warm outside and there is no cloud to be seen. The birds are singing their most beautiful songs, ducks are making love on your front lawn and so on. To put it briefly it’s a picture perfect Saturday morning making compensation for a bad week, you’re in the best of moods and then there is this…

The five things to really screw up a beautiful Saturday

1. Pensioners at the Supermarket
I have nothing against old people but, honestly, why do they have to go shopping on a Saturday morning? I mean don’t they have enough time all week? No, it has to be Saturday. They often need only one thing but this can be enough to drive the shop assistants mad. For example do they need butter but “the one I always buy”. How the hell should the vendor know what kind of butter that is? Pox on whoever doesn’t know their favorite butter. At least they “have been buying it in this shop for the last 30 years.” And if the butter isn’t available all hell breaks loose.

Another thing those people are good at is paying. When their at the register, they either give the sales girl the wallet to get the money herself (shame on her if she takes a bill instead of all the loose cash) or it goes like this: the old woman (’cause they often pay) takes out a 10 Euro bill when she has to pay, let’s say, 7,98 Euros and hands it to the cashier. The latter takes it and the old lady screams “Stop! I got it.” And then she starts picking out the coins one by one until she’s got 7,96 Euros. “Oh, I thought I had 7,98 Euros” and she starts putting the money back and either pays with a 50 Euro bill or with her credit card saying her PIN aloud. Until then she wasted 5-10 minutes of your beutiful Saturday.

2. People who can’t drive their Cars
An open road, 100 Km/h, good music and in front of you is someone who simply cannot drive. Either it’s (again) a pensioner in a big Mercedes who can’t look over the steering wheel or it’s just someone else who is as annoying. In these moments you never get the chance to overtake and you have to follow them, slowly, to your destination because they don’t intend of ever turning right or left. No, all they do is slam on the breaks when there is no reason to do so. And all you can do is watch the nodding dog on their rear shelf approving all their actions.

3. Children in a Café
How come all the parents with their Horst-Kevins and Chantalle-Michelles (those are pretty prejudiced names in Germany) have to be in a café on a beautiful Saturday? It is pretty annoying when you want to have breakfast and you like it quiet in the morning and those little brats are running around, all screaming and occasionally knocking against your table. All the parents have to say is: “Schantalle (yes, they pronounce the name like this although it’s not correct) pay attention” which sounds to me like “You can bump your head against that table but don’t spill the guy’s coffee.”

4. Unannounced Visitors
You plan to spend your beautiful Saturday doing whatever you wanna do an suddenly the door bell rings and who’s there? Someone who never visits you at all or your in-laws and all your plans crash down the minute they cross the threshold. Ignore the fact that those people “happened to be around”. They didn’t. No, those people have a feel for crashing Saturdays. I think they get up in the morning saying “Isn’t that a beautiful day? Come on, let’s crash someone’s weekend.” So, be careful whom you open the door. Better safe than sorry.

5. Boredom
It’s a beautiful day and you call your friends because you’ve got the best of ideas to spend the day…and no one’s got any time. The day fades away until Saturday becomes Sunday and Sunday becomes Monday and another week begins. Yes, the drab monotony of everyday life has got you back and there is nothing you can do about it but wait for the next beautiful Saturday…

Well, that’s it.

Is there anything on this list that can screw up your Saturday? What can screw up your Saturday?

Five of the Week #1

Damn, it’s been a long time since I wrote something. Well, here I write again and I’m going to do it more regularly, I promise. My plan is (yes, I actually have one 😉 ) to post an entry at least once a week. How I will manage that? I chose to start a category called “Five of the Week” which I will post each Wednesday and which will be about…yeah, what will it actually be about? It will be about different things I encounter in my daily life, some more special than others. Nevertheless, they’ll all be personal. But maybe it’s better to start and let you see what I mean than to lose myself in explanations. So here I go with this Wednesday’s first topic: “Shopping”.

How often do you go shopping? As a student I often have to wait for my bus so I like passing my time strolling through the city’s shops observing people. I actually like sitting in a café for hours just watching people passing by or sitting in the same café because they do the funniest and strangest things when they feel unwatched. So, when I went shopping on Monday (the real shopping, not the pass-my-time shopping-observing thing) I saw a lot of people and how differently they behaved. That was when I got my “shopping epiphany” leading me to starting this category. This week’s five will be about the five different kinds of buyers I mostly encountered.

1. The Focussed
This is a person approaching and entering the shop with a purpose. He already got his trolley token (the one he always uses) ready while checking which cart is the cleanest. Entering the shop he pulls out his shopping list and works it off systematically. Of course this list isn’t ordered randomly. On the contrary, the focussed is guided through the aisles by it, going from the entrance to the register and only buying what’s on it – nothing more, nothing less. It seems this type of shopper knows the fastest way through the supermarket. Approaching the register he uses his trained eye to figure out where to queue without losing too much time. Of course he has his money counted and ready when it’s his turn to pay. Having done so he packs the goods into the brought shopping bags to not have to pack it into the trunk of his car because then he would have to take the shopping cart back (which would be an unnecessary detour costing time).

2. The Frantic
This type of shopper often enters a supermarket ten minutes before closing time because he got his daily schedule all messed up (as always). He has no more idea of what he wanted to buy, he just knows there is something missing in his fridge, freezer or supply cabinet. Rushing through the aisles, the frantic is bombarded with evil looks by the employees seeing the end of their work day in danger. However, the frantic continues his search desperately trying to remember what was written on the list he forgot at home/work or lost somewhere along the way. When he has finally found what he needs he sprints to the register realizing he forgot his wallet. After fetching it from the car, pissing off even more employees and finally paying the frantic heads home where he becomes aware of having forgotten half of what he needed to buy.

3. The Single Parent
Single parents, be it mothers or fathers, very often have two children, mostly a boy and a girl. They come into the supermarket in the evening because mommy or daddy just finished work and collected the kids from the day care center. As both, the children as well as the parent, are stressed after a long day there are two typical shopping scenes about to evolve.

a) The children, who were tired and whining at the entrance, see the toy section and are immediately up and away. The parent, too tired to hold them back, only calls after them to stay there because he/she is going to pick them up soon. Having finished shopping half-heartedly but dutifully, the parent heads back to the toy section where the kids are already waiting to let the parent know “I want this”, “Can I have that, please?” and so on. After some pleading and looking puppy-eyed the parent usually gives in to avoid arguing in front of other people and because he/she is simply too stressed to argue. At the register the children are either quiet or they get a chocolate bar so they are quiet, mommy/daddy pays and off they go.

b) This situation develops similar to the first one until it comes to the “showdown” in the toy department. The kids aks if they can have this or that and the parent refuses. This leads to the kids asking and pleading and the parent refusing again. Now comes the point where a switch is flicked in the childrens’ heads and they start screaming and protesting. Some even throw themselves on the ground adding some kicking to their screaming. The outcome of this situation depends on the parent. While one gives in just so the children are quiet, the other one ignores the children until they follow him/her to the register. The third kind of parent yells back and the children are shocked, anxious and keep quiet for the rest of the day.

4. The Thorough/The Scrimper
Here we have a kind of shopper who can stay from half an hour upwards in a shop because he, like the focussed, systematically works his way through the aisles. The thorough also works off his list one by one but he likes to examine the goods carefully. For example, when the thorough wants to buy a bar of chocolate he may act like this: he takes one nar and looks at the (for him) most important facts of the nutritional information. Then he takes the next one and repeats this over and over again comapring the facts until he has found the (again for him) ultimate bar of chocolate with as few calories and as much taste as possible. He deals with the rest of his list in the same way. If the thorough is a scrimper at the same time, he will not only compare the products to each other but also their prices. A scrimper knows a lot of prices and where to get which product at which price. Therefore he often frequents several shops before having worked off his list completely. At the register he will pay the exact sum which is why he holds up the queue collecting his money “I think I have a cent somewhere in my wallet” and things like this. In many cases this leads to evil looks and comments from other shoppers like “Come on, you’re wasting my time!” After paying the thorough will pack his bags while controlling the receipt. Woe betide any cashier who made a mistake. The thorough will find it. However, if he’s done with shopping the thorough will go home knowing he bought only the best products (and saved a lot of money if he is a scrimper, too)

5. The Newbies
Those people are often students (yeah, I know what I wrote above :-P) or single fathers (yes, I’ve seen my share of them) who for the first time have to stand on their own two feet. You can recognize them by having a look into their shopping carts. These carts often look like patched together in an act of desperation. Single fathers and, even more, students often buy cheap frozen food which tastes bad but fulfills its purpose: occupying the stomach long enough to not feel hungry. Nothing against eating some pizza and whathaveyou but if your microwave becomes chef of your kitchen there is definetely something going wrong. However, with their easy-to-cook-difficult-to-spoil attitude they feel totally confident. So, why change the usual? At the register it can happen that both parties don’t have enough money with them so that they have to leave some things in the shop or “go ’round the corner to withdraw some bucks” which will lead to the same evil looks and comments the thorough has to endure.

Well, that’s it.

Do you have any experiences with these different types of shoppers? Do you know another type? How would you describe your shopping habits (honest people please step forward :-))?