The great treasure hunt

I just had an unusual experience. I bought a new phone card at the supermarket to add money/minutes to my cell phone. The cashier took the card and gave me a receipt that appeared to have very little information on it. I asked her, “Is this really all I need?” She said yes.

Two hours later, after several failed attempts to load the money onto my phone, lots of internet research, and a long call with a helpful ja! mobil representative, I returned to the supermarket. When I got to the front of the line, I told the cashier — a new one; the old one had left — that I was missing a receipt I needed to use the card I’d bought. Without a moment’s hesitation, she shouted, “Herr Something-or-other!” and turned to the next customer. Herr Something-or-other emerged from the back room, looked at the receipt I did have, and yelled, “Who is 12?” The cashiers, after some consultation, announced that number 12 was Frau So-and-so.

“Frau So-and-so,” yelled Herr Something-or-other. (I’m not sure why he was still yelling.) “I thought so.” Meanwhile, everyone in the checkout area was watching the strange sideshow that was unfolding. Herr Something-or-other brought me over to one of the checkout aisles and said something that sounded like, but surely couldn’t have been, an instruction to get back in line and then dig through the garbage.

I got back in line, and when I reached the front, the cashier told the woman behind me that her lane was now closed. She got up and pulled out a garbage can, and sure enough, together we started digging through it, hunting for the right receipt. After a few minutes had passed with no success, the neighboring cashier closed her check-out aisle too (leaving just one open) and got in on the action. Soon our new partner-in-crime emerged triumphant: She’d found the golden ticket. We put the heaps of trash we’d sorted through back in the trash cans and I left, feeling quite pleased that I’d solved my problem in a more enjoyable way than another hour on the phone with ja! mobil.

In some ways, Germany is a tremendously orderly country. In others…


One Response to The great treasure hunt

  1. SLF says:

    Ah ja! Deutsche Ordentlichkeit!

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