Home > 2011 Posts, About Dave > Hag Fake

Hag Fake

Back in the day, Würzburg Rocked – if you were the Prince-Bishop.

About 200 years after the Reformation began, the Prince-Bishop of this area on the Rhine moved into an opulent, new baroque palace from the near-impregnable Marienberg Fortress. I guess the peasants’ indignation must have cooled down by then. And, after all, who’s more entitled to proclaim the Divine Right of Kings through their standard of living than one who also holds high rank in the Church?

Price-Bishop's 'Residence'

My wife and I were in Würzburg to soak up the 18th century ambience. And we found that ambiance to nearly approach its larger conspicuously-consumptive competitors, like Versailles and Caserta. If you are in the area on a sunny day, the ‘Residence’ and its grounds are well worth a visit.

But, even though the architecture, art and gardens were lovely, my clearest personal memory from that day is of an encounter with a stereotypically German woman.

As an aside, I should say that in my experience, cultural stereotypes don’t apply to most people in a culture. That said, there are patterns of behavior in a big enough chunk of people in a culture to spawn and reinforce a stereotype. Think: Mafiosi, Surfers, Victorian England, Gangstas, Red Necks, mobs that riot murderously about cartoons, etc.

A Modest Statue in the Entry Drive

After exploring the Residence inside and out, I was interested enough to buy a book and learn more. As always in such cases, I approached the clerk with a sincere, friendly smile, offered the not-inexpensive volume and said, “Bitte?” – thus using up 50% of my German vocabulary.

The clerk was a stocky woman in her late 40’s who had a round, pale, fleshy face and wore a gray dress. With a sharp glance and contemptuous sneer, she wordlessly processed my credit card, shoving back the book and a small bag separately. Ok, she’s having a bad day, I thought, and put my book in its bag.

At that moment, I also realized that I didn’t have any coins to tip our driver. So with another smile, I asked the Bad Day Lady to change a 5 euro note. This time, she looked at me as though I was now a violent felon caught in the act, not someone who had just made a purchase. She scowled, sniffed dismissively and said, “No, I can’t do that,” turning away quickly.

After a second of reflection, my mode shifted into one propounded by the Philosopher of Malta. I picked up the closest 60 euro-cent postcard, tossed a 50 euro bill onto the counter, put a decidedly less-than-sincere smile on my face, and said, “Bitte?” as though it were another five letter word starting with ‘b’ but ending in ‘h’. With an angry grimace, she glanced at the card, stared at me and wordlessly slammed down my change – including the two 2 euro coins I needed. Then she turned her back on me even faster than before.

Prince-Bishop's Coat of Arms

I’ve often thought that the stereotypically ruthless German adherence to rules can end up putting a person further away from where they want to be than a little flexibility would.

Especially when it might goad one of its victims into pulling a 50 euro Hag Fake.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: