In the morning, a friend had said that it would rain in the afternoon. Her not being a meteorologist, I had dismissed it with the necessary politeness of simply ignoring it, just as I refuse to take medical advice from non-doctors, pandemic – or indeed anti-pandemic – advice from non-epidemiologists and legal advice from non-lawyers, which I, being a lawyer myself, usually find more nuisance than guidance. And anyway, I saw that the sun was shining bright and happy and with no sign of weakness.
A few hours later, after a long and aimless walk around the parks of Munich, I found myself on the S7 train, going south towards Pullach, which, I should add for the benefit of any reader who knows what that little town harbors and hides, was an honest and innocent coincidence, for I planned to disembark one or two stops prior to that center of West German espionage.
It was the opposite of rush hour, or maybe it was rush hour, but I was going in the opposite direction of the rush, and there was only one other passenger in the car: A man with hair so white, that it made him look older than he was, but wearing the hair too long and the shirt too unbuttoned, desperately trying to look younger than he was.
He was, as many people nowadays are, on the phone, speaking, either oblivious of me or due to subconscious self-importance, so loud that I could understand every word.
“He has 100,000 masks in stock, and he is selling them as low as 4 cents, because he can’t get rid of them.”
“Of course he could get more, but I don’t know if he wants to.”
“No, to pharmacies, he is selling them for 25 cents.” Poor pharmacies, always being taken advantage of – and not shy about passing this on to their customers.
“You can hardly sell the white ones anymore. The one with colors, yes, but he doesn’t have enough of those.”
“No, he has to pay 25 cents.”
“People are crazy. They pay 50% more, just to get them in packages of 25.”
And more of the same about FFP2 masks and antigenic test kits, apparently trying to profit from the pandemic.
At Siemenswerke station, I got off, wanting to continue on foot. The broker for protective equipment got off there, too.
It was pouring rain like during the deluge, as if the heavens wanted to repeat the disaster which had wreaked so much havoc just a week before. With the news of water destroying towns, roads, bridges and railways and washing people away fresh in our minds, we sought refuge in the little shelter on the platform, hoping for the rain to subside, as, with my little knowledge of meteorology I knew, it must at one point. But it didn’t.
The man was still on the phone.
“The problem is that if you place the order now, you get them in three weeks.”
“Except the ones in stock, of course.”
“Yes, he can also have them produced in Germany, but then they cost more.”
I listened, for it was hard not to, and realized that there is not much money to be made if you are late to the pandemic party. All this, while to me and a few other passengers huddling in the uncomfortably cold shelter, he could have easily sold umbrellas for as much as 5 euros.
Now, there’s a business idea. You are welcome.