October 3rd. Reunion Day in Germany. This year, it marks 25 years of joining East- and West Germany to become, what? According to international press, a welcoming nation, who see fit to take in almost one million refugees (still counting). Besides, it is a great country to live in, as far as I can tell.
When it comes to celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall 25 years ago, I still think, nothing can beat the festivities in Berlin in November 2014, known today as Lichtgrenze (Border of Lights), where thousands of light balloons, each with a statement of citizens tied to it, were released into the air. The term LICHTGRENZE itself became word of the year 2014. Goes to mark the significance of the event. I just wish, all borders could take off into the air just like that…
However, the official bank holiday is October 3rd. This year it was a Saturday, robbing workers of an extra day off work. And in my case, causing additional stress. Our chef is ill with pneumonia and the stand-in chef of our kitchen staff in the restaurant overlooked the fact, that Saturday is a bank holiday. He ordered vegetables and various salads and fruit to be delivered, as per usual by leaving a message at the deliverer’s order hotline, Friday evening. Alas, nobody is packing deliveries and sending trucks out on a bank holiday. Shops are closed. Bingo! We have two tournaments on this weekend, each with a three course menue after the game, each booked with 70 – 80 participants. Plus, with the weather being as fine as it is, hundreds of more golfers will fill the second golf course as well. Wanting food after their round.
But being a Berliner by now, I knew, that there is one place always open for business. Ullrich supermarket at Zoo station. I gave it a try, uncertain, if they would have on offer, what the kitchen needed. But it was our only chance. Every other place open, mainly little supermarket branches on railway stations and airports, just offer travel groceries such as mints, bottled drink and ready made sandwiches. But I was looking for 10 kg tomatoes, 18 heads of lettuce, 8 kg of strawberries, various herbs, 3 kg bell peppers and so on.
And I was lucky. Most everything on my shopping list was available. Although I had some trouble to carry 25 kg of goods from the shop to the adjacent multi-storey carpark (Ullrich is not your regular Mega Store with a huge car park accessible directly from the store but bang in the middle of city center west with no parking available at all), this was not the biggest hang-up. It was standing in line for 45 minutes to pay. Seemingly, all of Berlin has overlooked the fact, that shops are closed on a bank holiday. I have never seen as many people in one supermarket. This particular one has entrances on both sides, one facing Zoo station, the second one opening out to Kantstraße, each entrance featuring six cash points. The queues for each check-out met in the middle of the shop, in the way of many,many customers still streaming in, loading up their trollies.
I wondered, if I had overlooked, that the news predicted a famine of some sort, causing all and sundry to stack up for one last time. However, this was the question, I was frequently asked, people staring at my completely stacked trolly. I kept explaining, this was for a restaurant, not for private use. Never stopped the angry glares at me, holding up procedures with so much stuff to pay for. Unlike the rest, who bought some rolls, or frozen pizza, only. It was all push and shove, one never had the impression, this was a day, on which the majority could relax and enjoy themselves.
Maybe this experience wrung me out to such a point, that after my workday was finished and a brief dinner with my sweetheart and his mother was had, I dropped dead on the sofa, falling asleep in an instant.