Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Bread Rolls

506 words

Indulging in the pleasure of a ‘continental’ Sunday breakfast means you’ll have to get fresh bread rolls. Thanks to ‘progress’ in the German service attitude in the past decade bakeries will actually be open on Sunday mornings now. The only drawbacks of this are that you’ll have to go outside before even having had coffee or food and that you’ll have to face the staff at bakeries which seem far away from the classic ‘Bäckereifachverkäuferin’ of the old days.

When I was little I loved to go and fetch bread rolls. I’d go through the rolls I was supposed to bring home on the short walk to the bakery and add up their prices so I could ‘know’ the total price before they’d tell me. I think they even pretended to be impressed by that at times.

And while it’s not rocket science there’s certainly a bit more to selling bread rolls than being able to tell an ordinary roll from a croissant. Competent bakery staff will be able to keep even ‘large’ orders of five to ten items in memory for a moment. They’ll gather the items and then carefully put them in the bag in an order that puts the most stable items at the bottom and the more fragile ones at the top. That way your croissants stay in good shape. And back in the days, people were usually able to compute the total price of your order as they packed things up.

A few decades went by and most of this changed. Quite naturally you can’t expect any staff to add any numbers in their head. So whatever you do, things will be slowed down by staff having to operate some clumsy piece of bookkeeping machinery (which for sure is there mainly for the benefit of the bookkeepers rather than the customers). As a consequence staff will not know what the items cost and questions like ‘I just have a fiver on me, can I still fit in two sesame rolls for that?’ start becoming a real challenge because of that.

In addition, staff seem to be much more likely to fulfill the orders step by step and putting items in the bag in exactly that order which means you’ll have to take care that you order the croissants last. And to top things off this morning, the assistant serving me this morning was quite clear in her body language that she was displeased with my order because it meant she had to walk a few extra steps to get the items. Twice. Naturally that just happened because they didn’t have everything where it should be. And because she took the order step by step rather than in one go. Finally she was displeased by me paying with a 50€ note and quite annoyedly asked whether I didn’t have smaller money.

I left quite sorry to have inconvenienced them with my business. The better opening hours may have partially arrived in Germany, but the whole service spirit got lost on the way.

November 11, 2007, 11:04

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