Mora, Terťzia (Sample Translation)

Der einzige Mann auf dem Kontinent
(The Only Man On the Continent)

Luchterhand Literaturverlag, August 2009, 384 pp.
ISBN: 978-3-630-87271-1

[Excerpt pp. 55-72]
Darius Kopp and Flora Meier met in autumn 1999. They predicted a storm for that afternoon. An ordinary autumn storm, not a hurricane, nevertheless the general public was advised to remove the flower pots from their balconies before 3 p.m. But it was long past 6 p.m. when the first gusts of wind blew into the city. It shoved Kopp and Juri forward, they chuckled even though they hadnít gotten drunk yet. Was there something to celebrate again, or were they just hungry, or felt like eating, or were they simply curious: on this early evening, they were going to a Spanish restaurant to eat a bullfight steak for the first time in their lives. Were those the ones who had lost the fight, or the ones that had been bred to fight but didnít make it into the arena? They ate until their shirts nearly burst. Actually, thatís precisely what happened. Before the bullfight steak they ate a huge appetizer, then they ordered a Crema Catalana, and then Kopp did something that in (finer) restaurants (is this a finer one here?) you donít normally do, he stretched deliciously while licking his chops, and then it burst, no, not a button, probably right in the face of the indignant blond, pink and gold lady at the table next to them, it tore the material on the peak of his belly, at the seam along the button-facing, rrrrip, 4 cm long. They stumbled onto the street howling and didnít notice at first that it wasnít the booming laughter and tipsiness (strong red wine) that made them dizzy, but that the wind tore at them, and it wasnít so much the gluttony that bathed them in sweat, but rain, which as they say: was whipping them along. When they finally realized what it was, they liked that too, and they ran to their cars cheering between/under gusts of wind and beating rain. They separated after a while because they had parked in different areas. Kopp had to follow the tram tracks, and now that he was alone he huddled closer to the house walls. While he was strolling along, he realized he probably wouldnít make it to his car without taking a hit of his asthma spray. He stepped into a doorway to do it, and while he was just standing there: exhaled, put the inhaler up to his mouth, got ready to inhale deeply, then hold his breath, two things struck him at once: first, a young woman in a short, completely soaked dress (mille fleurs) walking towards him, and secondly, the tramís overhead line swaying ominously. When one of the cables tore with a blood-curdling crack, Kopp dropped the inhaler, grabbed Flora by the arm, and pulled her into the doorway next to him. Drenched, gasping, she was lost for words, so was he, but he could point: look how the wire is winding around the tracks and striking sparks. A mad snake. They both saw it, and after a while, they both saw the wire would not have reached Flora, but anyway, thank you for being prepared to save my life. I only did what anyone would have done, etc. Your shirt is torn. Yes. (Did he ever tell her the truth? Yes. They had a hearty laugh about it.) To make a long story short: it turned out she lived in the very house of the doorway he had dragged her into. Oh. Then I practically took you home. They had a very hearty laugh about that one too. We all know the rest of the story. She invited him inside. She made a cup of tea, later a dinner. He didnít tell her he had eaten. - I'm not crazy! - She cooked well (It was Letcho with an egg, dearest. - The best Iíd ever eaten!) which made him happy. Yes, I was on my way to spending the rest of my life with you. He noticed he was on his way to spending the rest of his life with this woman, and he was happy about that too. Later it turned out that, firstly, in terms of their interests, they were more or less different in every possible way both inside and out - she was into the arts, he was into technology, politically, too, they had differences of opinion (he stuck to his conviction that capitalism is the only functioning economic system, she didnít agree) Ė but that secondly, it had nothing to do with their future together. We donít have anything in common except that we love each other he repeats after her, he shrugs his shoulders and turns, and as a sign that heís happily perplexed, he comically turns his palms upwards. (And sheís even beautiful! Her breasts are like Gypsy apples, her navel a tiny shell, her bush is shaped like a date tree, and sheís got this beautiful, round, Hungarian ass, that makes honey dew melons go pale with envy! What? melons go pale with envy? Youíre really smitten, old boy, right? - Yes, my friend, I am).
In autumn 1999, Darius Kopp fell in love with a Hungarian who was studying literature and theater, but like, well, it wasnít exactly like he had difficulty breathing when she was out of his sight, but after 2 or 3 hours he did have to think about her again.
Well, well, my son, said Greta Kopp, nťe Krumbholz, so youíve met somebody. An eastern European. What do you think she wants from you? Iím sure sheís pregnant.
No, mother, that was your story. A terrible scene followed, bloody murder, snot and tears, youíd better apologize to the woman who gave birth to you, who had to hurry and marry your father so she wouldnít have to bear the disgrace all alone!
You know, itís not exactly like a triumphal march for me either; after all, I happen to be this potential scandal.
Water under the bridge, or maybe not; these unnecessary atrocities in times of peace.
But where in the heck is she from, and what the heck do we know about her family?
Why, is ours so special? But if you must know, here are the few things Kopp found out about her (she wasnít fond of talking much about herself, unlike most people, you know, so itís hardly necessary to summarize here):
Her father was declared unknown, her mother was a nervous wreck. The girl was raised in the country by her grandma; crops, Kombajn and cows on the one hand, Catholicism and communism on the other, when she turned 12 years old she urgently pleaded to be allowed to live with 11 other girls and 6 bunk beds in a dorm room where every morning, noon and night a drumhead banged out torturous orders of what they were supposed to do, and not to do. Silentium!, usually. The girls were just the way 12 (later 13-18)-year-old girls are, and Flora, who was quiet, liked to read and wasnít good (to this day she still isnít good) at pretending to be interested in painting, pop music, and being lovesick, she was always a wallflower. Nonetheless, it was nice being with them; sometimes I still miss them. They were an antidote to the adults who spoke in a harsh army barracks tone with the girls, and with each other: teachers, housemasters, salespeople, porters, priests and mail carriers, of course the neighbors, and, unfortunately, even relatives acted as if times like these wouldnít allow for a little kindness. But nobody can convince me it was only because they had been so tired of building advanced socialism in shifts. People are just a vulgar mob, thatís about the size of it.
I understand what you mean, said Kopp. Even though I have not suffered. Wasnít afraid or whined like my mother, nor was I dissatisfied or tried to fool the system like my father, I just took things as they came, and thatís what I do to this very day.
Happy Kopp. She kissed him. He did not understand exactly why he was being rewarded, which shouldnít get in the way of, you know, accepting it.
At age 18, she tried to find out who her father was. She got a fool-proof tip, but when she rang the doorbell, somebody started ranting and raving and threw her out. She sat there weeping on a bench and then the woman who had previously ranted and kicked her off the property, ran out of the house and chased her from the bench and threatened to report her. She walked through the streets crying, it was warm, she wore a pale green dress and worn-out white sandals, and whoever saw her walking around crying gave her dirty looks. Ė Thatís no way to behave in our town! - A horde of teenagers laughed meanly. When she reached the theater, she realized she was free. She stopped crying and left the small town never to return again. Good riddance!
She spent only half a year in the capital, again in a dormitory, and again she was happy. When she received a scholarship to go to Germany, she accepted it, and she never looked back. She didnít get a degree, but that doesnít matter much in the cultural sector. When Kopp met her she had just been hired as an assistant to a so-called independent film producer. She worked full-time, which means about 60 hours a week, for a salary of 1500 Marks before taxes. Her first task was to get rid of the other 180 applications for the job. The boss had written comments like "sexy voice" or "mais elle est vilaine" on the CVs. She admits she searched his desk for her application when he left. Ľ+ / - Jolie mais mal habillťe."
What nerve! said Kopp.
She just smiled. She smiled often, rarely did she laugh, whine, or curse; even when she fought she did it affectionately. She was considerate. - (These eastern European women ... etc. etc. shrewd girl, she even serves him his food! etc. etc.) - When theyíd meet sheíd caress his hair or shoulder. When he saw her "inconspicuously" caress Koppís shoulder even Juri, who thought the woman was "a wet blanket," had to admit just as inconspicuously that youíd have to be a fool or a chump to find something wrong with that.
You have just a single flaw, dearest. I canít go boozing with you.
Why do you want to go boozing with me?
So I can do everything with you.
Again she smiled.
In a nutshell, things were going well. During economic booms we all act lighter - or maybe we really are. Or when things turn for the better politically. Can you imagine, Juri, what itís like suddenly not to live under a dictatorship anymore? - Of course I can imagine something.
Up to April 2001. She showed up for work on schedule at a ground level office in Charlottengrad. She pulled up the wooden shutters. Unfortunately, the broken one too high. If that happens, you have to climb onto a chair and release the shutter with a broomstick; otherwise it wonít roll back down in the evening. The doors are wide open for burglars. She tortured herself with it forever, got her hand stuck and was bathed in sweat.
She switched on the three stone-age computers. She had breakfast: tea, an apple and a banana. Then she began typing a dictation on cassette in English, German and French.
The boss arrived with his dog at around eleven.
As she stood before him getting her tasks for the day, the dog came and put his nose under her skirt. He thrust his nose into that heart-shaped notch, where the butt cheeks open to the pubis. The dog wagged its tail, the boss laughed. She made a list of her tasks and pinned it to the wall so she wouldnít forget anything or get mixed up. She continued typing and took phone calls. By the way, we canít call out weíre late with the bill.
She combed through reviews for a film they had marketed and put together a press citation sheet.
Bullshit, said the boss, and explained what he wanted all over again. Itís not about searching for sentences that make sense, we want the catchiest ones, and I mean from the most important newspapers, not some small town rag with a bunch of young women like you sitting around, maybe theyíre clever, but thatís totally irrelevant. He took the dog for a walk. When he returned, he said she should go buy dog food and cigarettes. Which she did.
She put the dog food in his bowl and put a pail under the broken sink.
Please remove your things-to-do sheet, guests are coming and itís none of their business what youíre working on.
The director was going on fifty, it was supposed to be his third feature film. He hated all mankind for it: Oh, the executive secretary!
While the director was with the boss, the dog came to her, put his head in her lap and gazed up at her. She petted his head.
The boss and director came out of the bossís office and the dog vomited at their feet. The dogís vomit was reddish, it splashed onto the directorís left shoe and Floraís right one. The director cussed like a sailor. A hanky! he screamed. She didnít move. If she started to walk, she would have spread vomit all over the floor. But who else could go? The boss stared at the situation until he realized he was the only one who could go. He grimaced before he went. He brought paper towels, handed them to the director. He cleaned his shoe with it swearing the whole time, used up all the paper, and threw the dirty crumpled balls into the wastebasket (one missed).
Boss, director, and dog left, Flora was still standing there with her right shoe in the vomit. She left a reddish trail as she headed for the pail in the storage area.
Later, a creditor called, she played dumb.
Later, a messenger came; he had to step over the dog lying in the doorway and it snapped at his trousers.
She apologized. At 7 p.m. the promotional fax was ready. Remember: nobody reads e-mail nowadays, we donít have money for letters, and the only way to stand out is by fax. After the boss finished his lecture, he announced he was going out to dinner with a girlfriend, and while he was gone Flora should send the faxes, but she should use the phone in the storage room, it was part of the apartment next door and had a connection.
The fax machine was old, loaded no more than 10 numbers at a time. She calculated how long it would take until they had all been sent: half the night.
She lay down on her coat next to the machine because her back stung from stooping. Later, the boss found her sleeping on the coat. He smelled of food, red wine, cigars. He screamed at her, she still had a shitload of faxes to send.
She politely asked him to please refrain from using this rude tone.
She also mentioned, she had been here for 7 weeks now, and that during this time she has worked every weekend round the clock, but hasnít received any money.
Youíll get money at the end of the trial period.
Excuse me?
The good news is itís only for 3 months.
And what am I supposed to live on in the meantime? How will I pay my rent? Food?
The boss walked out without a word. A little later he came back with a plate of rice curry, beans and a hundred-mark-bill. Both, he said reproachfully, from his roommate.
Please send the rest of the faxes.
She sent the rest of faxes while eating the cold rice dish.
Later she stood at the bus stop in her cheap red coat and waited for the night bus. Aside from her, there was a couple standing there embracing each other tightly.
A drunkard came down the road. When he saw her, he stopped, sized her up, and asked: How much?
She didnít look at him. He stepped closer and spoke louder. She felt his breath on her face. Wine.
How much, I ask!
She looked away. (I was a little scared.)
The drunkard informed her that she looked like a whore in her cheap red coat. And that's why he is asking again: How much?!
And you, I should have said, look like a bum. And if you ask me how much, Iíd guess around 3 centimeters, not more, but of course, youíre never that quick on the spot, even if she hadnít been so exhausted by the day and everything that came before it. I just wanted to be left alone.
Please, leave me alone.
Instead, the guy came even closer and grabbed her by the arm. A scuffle ensued, in the course of which it wasnít Flora who kicked the drunk, but he kicked her in the shin so hard it cracked like dry wood. At this point the couple got involved, but the man who tried to pull the attacker off wasnít too handy; the drunkard slipped away and ran off.
Flora fell to the ground; a bump grew on her right shin, but at a pace and to such an extent that the woman next to her covered her mouth in horror. Her partner had tried to catch the runaway for a while, but he didnít really want to catch up to him, quickly gave up, and returned to the covered bus stop.
The bus came, they alerted the police and an ambulance.
How are you doing? asked the horrified Kopp.
(Flora has been attacked!
Is she dead?
Oh, Greta said.)
Well enough, said Flora. It's just a hairline fracture.
Does anything hurt?
At the moment no.
Can you sleep?
If you let me.
In the backyard that her window looked out on, wild vines were stirring in some indeterminate light, the moonís or a neighborís window, their shadows doubled in the mirrored doors of the wardrobe that Flora had positioned across from the window so the room would get more light. Kopp was shocked, sad, angry; Flora didnít seem to feel any of those things , so he quickly calmed down.
She didnít go back to the Frenchman and, of course, never saw a cent from him, water under the bridge. Her leg was in a cast for only a few days, after that she had a splint, but she wouldnít be able to walk very well for several more weeks, so Kopp offered her to come live with him and his elevator. She accepted. It could have been very nice - For a limited period, itís nice to take care of his girlfriend - but right at that moment, things started going haywire for Kopp professionallyó our net worth decreased by the houróand he was almost never at home. And Iím sitting here like a damsel in the castle. No blame, just an observation. The last time I was doomed to wait like this was when I was a child. Unless she managed to heave herself onto her feet and crutch to the supermarket there would be nothing to eat in the house.
Floraís breakdown, according to legend, happened the same day Kopp lost his job; otherwise the two events had nothing to do with each other. The office manager came out of his office and said to us: Listen up everybody, etc. Juri suggested they go and have an after-work party (!) They went to a large bowling alley, bowled like crazy and stuffed themselves with chicken drumsticks and beer. Later, we bought the designer desks and lamps for a symbolic amount from the bankruptcy sale; a table and two lamps along with several (countless) switches, ports, antennas, and memory sticks now stand in Koppís home office to this day.
They bowled, gorged and guzzled and laughed like crazy, afterward Kopp fell into bed next to Flora and snored until late in the morning. The light tortured his eyes, he opened one just a slit, thatís how he walked to the bathroom. He slept another quarter of an hour on the toilet, and another one in the shower. At the end he switched from warm to cold water; afterward he stood for a long time and let the water drip off his fur. When all was finished and done an hour later, and he returned to the bedroom, Flora was still sleeping. He walked onto the balcony and grinned into the sun. Not for very long as the bright light was piercing his eyes, it gave him a headache, and it occurred to him he was now unemployed. His arms went numb, he walked back into the room.
She was pale and cold, suddenly Kopp panicked too much to listen whether she was breathing. Imagine you wake up and the person next to you is dead.
But she was not dead, she had not taken enough painkillers, Kopp, for his part, took nothing, on the one hand there were no more pills in the house, and on the other, he didnít dare to anymore. Numbed by the headache and horror, he sat back down on her hospital bed.
She was unapproachable for a week; either slept or cried with her face turned away, but he would not have known what to say anyway.
Whatís wrong? Why? What happened?
Later, she told him. It was as usual just a small thing. - Or, I donít know. No. - She didnít have a good day. Right after waking up, she sensed there was something, and you know once it starts you donít have a chance. Whatever it is that happens, or even if nothing happens, it will stay with you and it will grow, a blister filled with puss, your only hope is that it will progress slowly enough that the day is over before it becomes unbearable before it bursts. For reading, television, or any other silent activity, she was too restless, so she went to the supermarket. There were two women standing between the shelves, and while Flora reached for a pack of noodles, one said to the other: ... one of the nurses said that when her daughter peed in her pants, she pulled the wet panties over her head and made her stand in a corner, she was clean within a year... at this point, she noticed Flora was staring at her. The two women stared back and exchanged the look: Whatís up with her? Where is she from, didnít anybody tell her itís not polite to stare?
Flora turned around, went home, put the noodles in the kitchen, went into the bathroom, looked into the mirror and then it was over. I could not look myself in the eye, thatís how ashamed I was of myself.
You? Ashamed? But why?
That canít be explained.
Was it a late effect of the assault?
No. Did somebody, some poor lunatic harass and injure me? Yes. The question is: Why doesnít this happen every day etc. Mainly, you start wondering about your own insensitivity. But now she could not bear it any longer. This pain is unbearable. I donít want to live anymore.
I donít understand.
I know.
Your wife, but Iím sure you already know this, is an extraordinarily sensitive person, a so-called "highly sensitiveĒ person. This means that she is not only stimulated by things that a non-highly sensitive person is bored by, but that conversely, in situations where non-highly sensitive people feel good, she becomes over-stimulated. On top of that, suffering in any form is unbearable for her. More importantly, she cannot distinguish between her own and another personís suffering. Often itís precisely these people who seem to be particularly sturdy, for no other reason than that they have virtually no direct contact with the world. But, if something breaks their protection zone, all hell breaks loose.
How long does something like that last?
It does not last. It is. It's like your eye color or handedness, you can hold a pen in your right hand, but you still remain the same.
Got it, said Kopp.
Itís perfectly normal that you are perplexed. To ease your burden, let it be said: It is not in your hands. It lies in your wifeís hands. Itís always a question of finding a way not to despair. ... Now for heaven's sake stop looking so horrified!
Hello sweetheart, how are you doing? asked Kopp and his whole face beamed.
I was ashamed for those women, for the woman they were talking about, for the little girl in the corner, and finally for myself. Because it hurt me so badly. My whole life. It took all my energy to suppress this pain. Why? Because I want to live.
I want that too. Live with me.
She looked at him. I mean it seriously: marry me.
She just looked.
Of course, he said. Sorry. He pulled up his pants on his right leg before he kneeled. But before I do this, itís only fair to let you know I just lost my job. We have been terminated. Tutto completto, the whole shebang. And now, one more time: I cannot and will not live without you. Marry me, please.
(Are you two crazy? You donít get married in a situation like that! And anyway: such things are hereditary - yes. Just like asthma.)
They got married, only Juri and one of her friends were present, afterwards they lost contact. They went to a Spanish restaurant. Two of the men ate bullfight steaks, and the other a Pollo ajillo, Flora ate oysters and an appetizer as a main dish. The waitress was actually a student and doing her job more rough than ready. The climax came when she didnít serve the plate from the right, or if you prefer from the left, but rather tried to lift the plate from the table over the groomís head, so that a little sauce dripped onto his sparsely covered crown. She apologized a thousand times, ran off, ran back again, and before anyone at the table could do or say anything, she started wiping Koppís bald spot with a pink sponge cloth that presumably had been used to wipe the tables. Needless to say, the whole group fell off their chairs laughing. To make matters worse, there was no cafť con leche y leche, because one of the Leches, namely the normal milk, had turned sour. If this marriage wasnít made in heaven, then I donít know what was.
In fact, from that point onwards things started Ė slowly, slowly, so our souls could keep up with it Ė looking up. The following year, which they spent unemployed together, was the happiest for Kopp in their whole relationship, yes, possibly in his life. They lived from hand to mouth and participated in many peace demonstrations. They cooked very healthy and tasty food every day, and for the first time in 10 years Kopp lost weight.
Later, he found work again, and she continued to stay at home. For a while, they led a traditional housewife marriage (Thought so. She acts as if she couldnít put two and two together, and all the while blah, blah, blah...) and Kopp grew even more happy, because he didnít have to deal with anything that had to do with the private sector. She read a lot again. How was your day? I read this and that. Rabbit is Rich. If on a Winterís Night a Traveler. Little Man, What Now? She put some books next to his side of the bed - "the lighter stuff" -. He never read any of them. Before they tipped over, she put them away. She got up at 6 and went to bed by 10 in the evening so that he usually asked the "How was your day" question on the telephone during the dead hour that happens every afternoon in the office. Since the very first day they met, they telephoned every day, regardless whether they saw or would see each other in the morning or at night. Circa the anniversary of her breakdown, Flora said she did not want to keep going on like that. Iíve finally decided not to suffer anymore.
Great, said Kopp, who obviously had no idea something like that isnít possible. As a sign of her new life, she took a temporary job in a coffee shop, which irritated him somewhat, but she explained it to him. I think Iíll be able to preserve my honor that way.
Thatís how they have been living ever since. One might say: in balance. Some things are still a bit tricky. Things are fine for a while, then something happens Ė
She calls in tears because the neighbor was yelling at her child - I called the child protective services, they talked to me like I was crazy, so why donít you tell us what happened little lady, and then they promise me theyíll take care of it, and, of course, they do nothing, and I know they are right and I'm wrong, because if somebody talks that way, it means nothing before the law, but when I hear it, I want to just die ...! Or when she saw a man beating another man in line. Obviously a complete stranger, obviously completely for no reason. The expression on the face of the downtrodden man, his astonishment, his pain, the humiliation, but also the decision not to take revenge ... - But thatís good, says Kopp. - Yes, says Flora, I mean: no, and weeps.
- Or nothing happens. Small things add up. And, letís not mince words about the job. We do not want to go so far as to call it bullying, often itís just the atmosphere, or even more banal, simply the accumulated fatigue and Flora breaks down again. Same old: a new start, breakdown, new start, breakdown. Thatís why Darius Kopp not only loves his wife, but also worries about her. Itís not true that the minute youíre out of my sight, because for ex. Iím at work or go drinking with my buddies that youíre also out of mind. I admit, I donít help you enough, perhaps itís not quite as bad as if we were living in the fifties, but I forget, admittedly most of the things you ask me to take care of, and thatís why you stopped asking me to take care of things for a while now, and prefer to sacrifice your strength and time rather than your nerves, but those are just things, Flo, you know, just things. And you are you.
(Well said, you lazy bastard.)
[Excerpt pp. 132-138]
Letís skip the part where he poured himself a glass of orange juice in the mini-kitchen and gulped it right down. He took the second glass into his office, put it on a free corner of the desk, and fished the cash box off the stack.
He counted twice. First time around it was 40,000 (and the extra 50? Whoíd bring 40 050?), the second time around 39,850. That unsettled Kopp. Why does it always have to be like that?
He decided not to count again. He packed the money (approximately) into a briquette and stuffed it inside the box. He slid the box under the table. Not right next to the (full) trashcan on the other side, nevertheless: be careful! It is always like that: Irritation Ė increased disorder. I didnít come up with that on my own. Flora observed it. Thank you. At least now Iím in a much better position to correct it on time.
This time too: He took the package back out from under the table, pulled the money out, ordered the bills more carefully this time, wrapped the copy paper more tightly around it, gently packed the briquette into the box and put it back on the pillar near the window. He glanced onto the square while he did it. Outside it was bustling, as always, while here inside he was surrounded by silence, cool, darkness, the laptop being the sole source of light. The world just as it was, both inside and outside, individually and in combination, pleased Darius Kopp and this affirmation charged him with new energy. While the laptop was booting up, he finished off the second glass of orange juice.
At that time, he still had 1 hour left before Juriís scheduled arrival. He spent it on the Internet. He began, as always on the ďHomepageĒ.
Welcome, Benvenuto, Välkomen, Sulamat datangÖto your start page, meaning the companyís Homepage, the leader in End-to-End Broadband Wireless Networks, with more than 20 years of experience. WE MAKE YOUR WIFI VISIBLE. TURN TO US (I will).
Any News & Events in the house? As he could perfectly see in the preview window, the last message was 2 weeks old, Kopp had read it several times, but he couldnít help clicking on it this time too. (As if it was a real window you could open, stick your head through - and really be able to see more.) In the second to last quarter our revenues were at $15.1 million, an increase of approximately 47% in total GAAP revenue from $ 10.2 million for the quarter ended March 31, and a decrease of approximately 11% from $ 16.9 million for the quarter ended June 30, last year. (And what exactly does this mean? I admit: I have no idea.) Last June we were kind enough to sponsor wireless networks in four American small towns, and before that on 31 May, we received an innovation award. We're rightly proud of that. Otherwise no news. Kopp moved to the news page. This sequence has become second nature: Homepage, news pages, business news, stock market. Has anything major happened in the last 48 Hours, since Iíve been stuck in information technology nirvana? Domestic policy, foreign policy, financial news? Conspicuous: the weekend reports include far less up-to-date news than during the week. As if the events had a weekend off like the editors. In exchange you deeply dedicate yourself to the general condition of the world. Visions: how people will work in the future. The article contained nothing Kopp didnít already know - "whenever and wherever they want "- he read it for a while anyway, until he clicked on a hyperlink: 305 professions. The big salary comparison. How much do IT engineers earn in comparison to doctors, architects, lawyers, bankers? That depends. Financial crisis reaches top earners in New York. Empty tables in fine restaurants. Our portfolio is in the doldrums. Water under the bridge, the new market values, theyíll never go back up in my lifetime, but also our new attempt to invest in water didnít yield the quick earnings we had hoped for. We can only hope that the stock market experts are right who claim: It's a pause, not a recession. The over-the-counter rate - The floor sticks to the weekends, the ticker never, thereís something in the air 24/7! Ė it suggests that the acquisition of two credit banks by the government will provide for an improvement in mood. The following companies may (nevertheless, or regardless) soon be taken over. Is anyone in our business included? Not this time. 2 x car companies, 1 x bank, 1 x energy, 1 x home improvement store, 2 x chemical industries, 1 x pharmaceutical. Adding fuel to the fire of a pandemic was useless, even if they did end up selling more flu vaccines. (Do you believe that? Yes and no.) As if some new infectious disease didnít emerge every year anyway. Three steps to a sure diagnosis. What else are people in the West so afraid of? In second place poverty, in third the Mohammedans. A pastor set himself on fire for fear of Islam. Idiot. but really. Sea maneuver: Russia and Venezuela war games in the Caribbean.
He had enough here, was ready to quit, that is to begin, but as I said above dear friend: little things happen, for example, in the lower right corner of the screen a small window appears with the information: you have new messages. Minimize browser, open Mailbox.
Mostly itís yet another newsletter - Sunday is newsletter day - including 2 general questions about network security, and 3 press releases from the competition so we donít forget them. Inspect before you connect. How secure is your wireless network? Kopp could have wasted his time here, being up to date is one of the duties of a professional, it's usually what I do on Sunday night: sit in front of the TV and read newsletters, but it was ultimately a different message that lured him into the forest.
Re: Your personal update from BizNet.
Retrieval of your profile last week: 3
Guestbook Posts: 0
Your confirmed contacts: 58
Your contactís connections: 8626
You have no new contact requests.
You have 1 new message: Thomas Schatz has updated his profile.
Well, well! Schatzi! How are you doing?
Thomas Schatz is the so-called friendly competition you meet exactly once a year at a trade fair. Nobody, therefore, particularly important, or who you really knew, but since the mentioned meeting has been going on for almost 15 years now, the booths are usually installed next to each other, so you give each other some give-away (rangefinder, squeeze ball, cable cutters(!), stuffed animal) and have one or two beers, which makes him something like an old friend after all. Well, well! Why would you update your page? Kopp opened it to take a look.
A second later, it was clear he couldnít do it with a cursory glance. Thomas Schatz had created a web presence as Kopp hadnít ever seen before. He exhibited himself thoroughly, while managing to stay within the bounds of good taste. Nothing, not a single detail of his career remained hidden from view. From elementary school with honors to his current membership in 32 groups, whose logos filled up the entire 5th page of the tabulated c.v. The sight of all those small emblems made Kopp chuckle at first, but when he realized he didnít know a single one of them, it made him brood. How can you be a member of 32 groups? How can you not be? Thatís easy. Youíre missing nothing, you feel complete until the moment something like that is brought before your eyes. 32 thatís over the top, thatís a job unto itself, you have to develop a passion for it, weíre lacking the get-go, but given the pros that we are, why arenít we a member of at least a handful of groups? What else can I possibly be doing wrong? When I think about my own web presence by comparison ... itís the bare minimum: a pasted-in copy of my old tabulated c.v. from my last job application. Offer: Startup Experiences, IT Security, Appliances for Security, Security Solutions. Thomas Schatz offers the same stuff and besides, his damned English is from the damned Oxford improved!! He has 129 confirmed contacts, including 4 who wrote a recommendation for him. He describes himself in English as:
An engaging written and oral communicator with a passion for perfection and persuasion.
A self-starter who is most comfortable in a fast-paced environment with limited, high-level direction-working both independently and in close communication with a team.
A self-motivator with passion for winning that is derived from a crisp, thorough understanding of the company vision and related technologies.
A crisp, thorough understanding? What you donít say! (I think youíre ridiculous and Iím green with envy, and Iíll remember the words so I can remember to use them on the next person I meet.) Of course youíre an ace too: especially badminton, tennis, squash, sailing, golf, but you care a lot about family, friends, wine and dine. (So thatís how you put it.)
Schatzís self-advertising pulled Darius Kopp out of his own life for several minutes. Incapable of thinking about anything else. His mind was completely occupied as he struggled with the vocabulary: perfection and persuasion, self-starter, who is most comfortable, with a passion for winning, crisp and thorough, crisp and Ö While he aimlessly scrolled the mouse up and down the page.
Bright nothing on a bright background.
My only source of light.
The rattle of the scroll wheel, like a cart, a child's toy.
Kopp shook his head as if he had water in his ear. Pull yourself together, man. He moved the mouse up, the rattle once more, he closed the page. Now he had the news page again in front of him, the article to the left, in a box to the right the stock market charts, he clicked on it: on autopilot - he still saw nothing, scrolled down the page then back up. Buy, Hold, Selling is obsolete. Geez, what an idiot! The mouse up once more, close this page, now the browser was completely closed, better that way, catch your breath before ... the cell phone rings and Juri is early (!) and standing at the door. What could Kopp possibly do?

Excerpts translated by Zaia Alexander
© 2009 by Luchterhand, a division of Verlagsgruppe Random House, Munich, Germany