At the Butcher Shop

The air conditioning system is cooling the air down to 18° C . I stand behind the counter and smell only faintly the sausage and the meat which lie before me in the display.

A customer comes in the door and steers toward the fresh meat. I am alone in the shop and go to her. “Good day madam, which I can do for you?”, I ask her. It turns out that the customer would like to have two chicken breasts. So I get two chicken breasts from the display, wrap them in waxed paper as usual and weigh them. Next I reach for the small plastic bags, into which any fresh meat is packed again, so that the meat juice doesn’t soak through into the paper bag and make a mess in the customer’s handbag. Suddenly the customer stops me: “Please no plastic bag”. When I give her a questioning look the customer adds: “Animals are not locked up with me, neither the living ones, nor the dead ones”. Understandingly I omit the plastic bag and stow the chicken breasts away in the paper bag. The customer is king. “That makes then 7 euro and 36 cents please,” I say. The customer pays and leaves the shop contently.

On the other side of the counter the next customer is already waiting for service. I go to him and ask: “Good day sir, which I can do for you?” After a small pause for consideration, the customer decides for a roasted chicken thigh to go, which I am to warm up for him again in the microwave. The thigh is also wrapped in waxed paper and put into the microwave. The customer pays the price of two euro and 20 cents already, while we wait together until the thigh becomes hot. I lay out a piece of aluminum foil, in which I wrap the chicken thigh before it comes into the paper bag, so that it remains hot and also no fat or meat juice lands in the bag of the customer. As I am about to stick the thigh wrapped in waxed paper and aluminum foil into a paper bag, the customer stops me. “Could you pack the thigh in a small plastic bag again, so that nothing runs out? And I also need a plastic bag to carry it in. I glance at the customer briefly in order to see whether he really means it. The customer does not meet my glance, in the knowledge that his desires are to be fulfilled. The customer is king. So everything is packed in a way that he likes. I give him his purchase in a small carrying bag of plastic and wish him good day again.

The next customer is not long in coming. She orders a pumpkin soup from the midday menu, likewise to go. On my way into the kitchen to give the cook the order, she stops me: “Could you pack the soup in this box for me?”. In her hand she holds a transparent Tupperware box. That is new for me, so I go first to the cook and inquire. From him I learn that unfortunately we may not take the Tupperware for hygienic reasons. Instead the customer gets their pumpkin soup in a styrofoam container supplied by us, which is afterwards closed with aluminum foil. So that during the transport of the soup nothing leaks out, the styrofoam container is packed into a large plastic bag. The customer is obviously dissatisfied with the packing of her midday meal, yet she pays the four euro and 50 cents and leaves the shop after I have wished her a nice day again.

[Jonathan Ramme, Frankfurt am Main/Germany]

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