Produced by a local physician — and Otmar had been persuaded by the 40 trillion marks, which, in his hand, had turned into 27 trillion marks — on account of a photographer’s fee, this deduction to be found in the very small print only.
As they both live in a small village, where people have to get along with each other, really, he had decided not to inflict a good beating on the physician out of hand,
But perhaps might have done,
Had he known that his troubles, these events, are presently only in their very first, germinal, phase.
Not being completely stupid, he had checked beforehand, and received an assurance that publication was to be private to physicians. Assuredly.
Not generally available for all to gawk at,
So what does he discover when he pops into the village butcher’s for some sausages, pork, eight to the pound, for him and his aged mother to have for their supper?
The butcher’s wife, Frau Ottilie, framed in her booth, holding a copy of the Compendium of Degenerates in front of her, pointing things out,
With a index finger for the benefit of Frau Aschenbrot,
They seem amused.
If he had been angry before… Private, well, we can see how useful that assurance was.
On seeing Otmar, the two women were nothing but encouraging:
—Excellent, they said. Well done for doing it.
But the embarrassment. He had no answer except to stammer something about wanting sausages.
The butcher must have stepped out for a moment,
Their duties were separated, originally for hygiene. He, with cleaver and saw, blood staining the fingers. She is the money taker, the cashier, her small booth constructed in the corner of the shop.
Because of the hyperinflation, a chop is now up to 1 quadrillion marks.
A chop, a mere pork Kotelett.
A scrawl of pencil on the greaseproof paper and time passes. Critical time.
Ottilie is a hard one, she continually berates her husband on the subject.
—If they queue for two and a half minutes, while I am seeing to someone in front of them, someone old or infirm, who is fiddling around, dumping the wads of money on my counter, losing count, the price has gone up by 1.4 billion marks, I make it — we have to do something about this, or we will be bankrupted. We should calculate all prices at the time of payment, not at preparation.
He disagrees: —Morally, one should quote a price and honour that price. People stuck at the back of a long queue would complain… We would lose trade…
And then time passes again… iterating to…
O! philosophical. O! commercial.
Some traders had a boy running quarter-hourly to the telegraph office for the exact inflation fix. Some experimented with timestamps and a trustworthy clock, visible to all. Others employed a human calculator, with a facility for the rapid arithmetic necessary, extrapolation, and a honest face. None of this was necessary if customers paid using francs or sterling, much of which had been left over from the occupation.
He knows she has a point, but… during the war he had learnt to stand firm, having a head start with the sight of blood compared to some other recruits.
Stand firm, even if the world had all gone mad around you (perhaps the first step in curing the world).
Stand firm, and never get too deep into any analysis of the great imponderables.
—Our heads will spin off our necks if we think about it any more. We must wait for the politicians to put it all straight, says Felix the butcher.