Ina Maria Vogel

I was greeted by the smell of burnt rubber whose origin I could not identify. The long line – predominantly consisting of annoyed customers who were impatiently shifting from one foot to the other – was moving at a snail’s pace and already extended way past the entrance. While I was waiting, I kept observing the employees behind their 15 counters, all equipped with heavy windows. Rumor had it that the windows at the counters were bullet proof just in case a customer ever tried to attack any of the service staff, a scenario that apparently had been deemed not completely unlikely to occur. The employees resembled a bunch of steaming animals in a far too small cage. With agonizing expressions on their faces, attending to one frustrated customer after the other and becoming visibly more dissatisfied with each person they were approached by. Their pale, unhealthy faces seemed to be fully aware of the impact that a lifetime of duty in the travel center at Frankfurt’s main train station, a catch basin for the weary and burdened, would ultimately have on them. The only requirement for being hired for the job, I began to think, seemed to be a heavy life package or any other kind of obvious burden. A letter of motivation would be an unnecessary, unrealistic an altogether ironic requirement for anyone involved in the hiring process. Instead, the leathery faces of the applicants would have to be sufficient and convincing proof of their qualification for this job.

Frau Schulze at Counter 4 was seemingly sporting a fresh, yet outdated perm, and was the only one of her colleagues who looked as if there might still be a spark of adventure to be found somewhere behind the large shoulder pads and the costume jewelry. She looked tired but was still showing a faint, Mona-Lisa-like smile on her face. I could imagine her sometimes getting the urge to spontaneously board a train that was leaving at 11:11 a.m. on Platform 11, without a plan and not even wanting to know where she would end up. But it was foreseeable that this rather theoretical spontaneity would regrettably but surely have vanished within the next two years, at the latest. Somehow, I would not be surprised if Frau Schulze was pursuing a totally unexpected hobby of an unusual nature as a way to balance out this brain-crushing job. Butterfly taxidermy or heavy weightlifting came to my mind – possibly even both to create a balance. But it surely had to be something along these lines. I also imagined her being married to an Arnold Schwarzenegger type of guy. Someone, who at least visually brought excitement into her life, even when their only shared interest was the weekly meeting with their “Stammtisch” to play darts and drink a few beers with a couple of like-minded friends. Although, I revised my thought, Frau Schulze rather struck me as someone who would always choose wine spritzers over beer. Fair enough.

At the counter next to her, I spotted a young guy who was nervously typing away, staring at his screen while a stocky, resolute lady with a slight shadow of a lady’s mustache on her upper lip stood behind him. She talked at him incessantly, and he appeared to be trying to shrink into his oversized suit, hoping he might eventually be able to hide in there. He was probably an apprentice. And the lady was most likely his supervisor whom he would be attached to for better or for worse for the next couple of years. His name tag read “Herr Ahmed” and – judging from the ill-fitting, bulky suit and the intimidated look on his face – he was likely not much older than 18, maybe 19. He had probably just graduated from high school and was obviously still struggling to find his place in the grown-up world. As someone who was trying to come to terms with his identity and a master plan for life, it must have been particularly hard for him to find his place and voice among his certainly peculiar colleagues. He must have been devastated on his first day when he realized that this was where he would have to be for the next three years, day in and day out, nine to five, Monday to Friday and every second Saturday. I wondered, if he had had a choice or if this had been the only job offer available to him. I also wondered, how long it would take him, before he got so used to being exposed to all this weirdness that it eventually would become his new normal. It was not unheard of, the process usually happened slowly but gradually, judging from my own experience.

(…to be continued…)

Series – Evanescent

January: If Something Can Go Wrong…It Will – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)

February: The Planet of Pleasure – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

March: Evening with Jackie Chan – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

April: Vuvuzelas, Walkie-Talkies and Madiba Magic – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)

May: Remembering – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

June: 5-4-3-2-1 – Talia Stotts (America)

July: Getting Ready for Newborns – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

August: Regrets – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

September: A Hollow Pursuit – Diana Haidar (Syria)

October: The Test – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

November: A Life Rekindled – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)

December: Wanderlust – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)

Special: Catching Water III – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

Background – Context

Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)

Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world


Cover photo: Frankfurt, Germany – Central Train Station – Zabanski (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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