Saturday, July 24, 2004

10 years ago, stores in Germany had to close at 6:30 pm Monday through Friday and 1 pm on Saturday. Sundays and holidays they were not open at all. This means ALL stores except gas stations. Most of the time stores would also be closed from noon to 3 pm, for an extended lunch break. This means, if Christmas was a Monday, stores would close Saturday 1 pm and reopen Wednesday morning. Everybody was sick by Tuesday morning, because the only thing left to eat was Christmas candy.
But slowly things started to change: "long Saturday" and "long Thursday" were introduced. This meant, once a month stores could stay open until 8 pm on a Thursday and until 4 pm on a Saturday. Little by little (or minute by minute) the curfew was relaxed and now stores may stay open until 8 pm Monday through Saturday. If they choose to (surprisingly few do).
I decided to be a painter today and went to the art store this afternoon to get paint. The art store (apparently a traditional establishment) chooses to close at 1 pm on a Saturday, so I'll have to do something else this weekend.
One of the few places still open at 4 pm was a book shop with a DVD section. I found Polansky's Macbeth, an excellent movie. For only 8.99 Euro! I was delighted and persuaded my innocent companion to purchase the DVD. We proceeded to the checkout counter, where a hyperactive woman was grinning at us. Spastically.
"Oooooohhhhhhhhh!!!!! You chose Shakespeare!!!!!!!! That's great, isn't it wonderful." Then something seemed to occur to her. She suddenly had the important air of an expert. "But I must tell you, it doesn't have a happy ending. Somehow, in the end everybody is dead. It's just like in the other one, Hamlet."
There were many things one could have said: "Tragedies often end tragic" or "You shouldn't tell us the ending, it spoils the experience" or even "You must be very intelligent and intellectual, you know so much about Shakespeare". But we just paid and got out of there, sometimes it's best not to discuss things further.
The moral of the story is maybe, Germans don't like to keep their stores open on Saturdays. Watch out, those who do may have something wrong with them.