Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Wolf at the Door

All these people coming in these doors. They do not see me, yet I see them.
I observe their mannerisms, the unfriendliness and superiority; the ones intent on a quick chat, the ones in a hurry, the ones that know what manual labour means and the ones that don't.

On the weekends an older man comes in with a tiny felt bag that fits two plain bread rolls. He looks like rat-man Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter films when he becomes human again. The top of his head is bald whereas the white whisps of hair around the sides stand out as though he has been electrocuted. He walks slightly hunched over, shuffeling wherever he goes. His face has a gnawing look. All of this I can chalk up to old age and genetics. The thing that freaks me out though are his nails. Long, hard nails that scratch my skin when he hands me the money for the bread. Those nails. The only thing that shifts my facial expression from friendly to freaked are those nails.

Today an older gentleman walked in with his young son. I'd estimate him to be in his mid-50s and his son about 10 years of age. They just wanted to cinnamon rolls, Zimtschnecken with either chocolate or normal icing. Deliciously sweet. As the father handed me the money, his hands were shaking. Shaking constantly. What it means to not be in control of your body, this. Wondering whether he has had a stroke, an illness, or whether the shaking was never not normal to him.

An lady of advanced age comes by daily. She brings her own miniature yellow coffee pot for one. The lid is chipped, the pot stained by daily Danish coffees. We fill it up, and she goes home.

An American woman comes in ever so often. Loud, brash. What you would expect an American to be, stereotypes not being disappointed. She comes in eating sweets and buys more pastries and breads. I like her because I can speak in English but her loudness and her insistence on having a chat at times becomes an obstacle when there is a line and I can see Europeans not understanding why things aren't being done chop chop.

There is a Spanish lady as well, in her early 30s. Her husband sings at the theatre here. I have never been. She speaks in Spanish to me, asking about the day, but then switches to German when she orders.

At times, friends suddenly stand there when I look up. At other times, people I recognise from somewhere, class perhaps, but where I can't put my finger on it. All these people, waves of them, crashing into the heat of the bakery. And I, sweating, in an ill-fitting T-shirt and unwashed hair, I see them all.

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