Berlin stories: Missing the grocer’s wife badly

Pale is sun but nevertheless it is the sun. I am nervously waiting and the sun paints golden circles on my knees. Outside two little girls are running by, screaming and giggling. Maybe four or five years old. They wear little red cardigans and throw leaves as high as possible up into the air. Then they try to hunt the sunlight. They run and run faster and faster while their mothers are sipping matcha latte. But the girls can not keep up with the sun, the sun now at the end of the year, doesn’t wait anymore and just disappears around the next corner, where maybe two little boys are already eagerly waiting to join in the game.  I wait and I am not good at waiting ( But who is good at waiting anyway? ) I drink fresh peppermint tea and I do not taste anything. Especially here in Berlin, where I sit in the moment, precisely I sit on a wrecked, old sofa, obviously the standard interior of Berlin cafés. They all in they chic-shabbiness look the same. They are all pretty boring. The people who sit their drinking fancy smoothies or aeropressed coffee, look pretty boring too. They sit in front of their notebooks and probably all dream from a life that is more exciting than the very one we all have. The people running those cafés look in a very disturbing  way all the same as well. They all look as if they would rather be anywhere else than behind the counter. Certainly,they all came to Berlin to become actors and Instagram stars, they saw themselves as young start-up performers or the next digital entrepreneurs. Maybe they thought they would write the next big novel, and the women all look as if the call from an agent in Paris is just a minute away. But neither the novels nor the agents ever showed up. The guy behind the counter wears a basecap with the imprint: OBEY. This is not ironic, this is just simply the truth. The girl that gives him hand, chats away in a corner and enthusiastically greets a guests that comes in accompanied by a big brown dog. She hugs the dog and clicks a picture of herself and the dog. She wipes her hand clean on her jeans and serves two pieces of cake to a customer. I see the grocer’s wife appearing in front of my inner eye and see the old coffee-machine and the heavy porcelain milk jugs, the freshly baked scones and the grocer’s wife famous eclairs you won’t find in all Dublin. The grocer’s wife wears a blue apron, I think not even once I saw her without it. But most remarkably the grocer’s wife knows all the names of her guests. She knows not only all our secrets but she is always up for a bit of good banter. Whenever you open the door to her shop, there is laughter and some good craic. No, there is no house music playing in the background, there is no iPad she uses to find out, how much two people have to pay for a coffee and a tea and if I would ever tell her the story of the dog and the woman and the hands wiped on the jeans, I promise she would get on a plane and heaven and hell would break loose. The grocer’s wife, who can drive me crazy in less than a second and who runs a tiny business in a small village in the Irish countryside has something I never saw in one single café in Berlin: commitment for what they are doing.

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