Watching the snow with Frau Bienkowski


“You should always avail of the free coffee here,” Frau Bienkowski said. “Sure, why wouldn’t you?”

“I did,” I assured her. “I had a latte downstairs. It was delicious.”

The dress Frau Bienkowski admired

The dress Frau Bienkowski admired

“Good,” she said, looking at me closely. “Now, this is a dress I haven’t seen before! It’s lovely!”

“Thank you!” I said and admired her pastel-coloured floral two-piece.

Outside, thick snowflakes were swirling in the air. “It’s such a shame about the weather,” said Frau Bienkowski.”I still have to give you a tour of the grounds.”

“And you promised to tell me the story behind the funny little statue outside,” I said.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten!”

“How have you been sleeping?”

“Not well,” said Frau Bienkowski. “The other night I was awake the whole night. When the alarm went off at 7 o’clock I just couldn’t face getting up. So when the first lady came in, I had to think of some reason to stay in bed, so I told her I had a headache.”

“She asked me where,” Frau Bienkowski continued, smiling wickedly. “So I waved my hand about and said from front to back. Of course they got the doctor to check up on me. Then they took my blood. And of course I’d a perfect reading.”

I laughed. “Would you not tell them you’ve trouble sleeping?”

“Ach, I told you before, I haven’t been able to sleep since my husband died. And that was a long time ago.”

“Do you listen to the radio or watch TV in the evenings?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” said Frau Bienkowski. “I only watch television in the evenings. But listen to this; the other day a message to turn down my TV came from a lady all the way down the corridor. There was no way she could have heard it. I even asked my next-door neighbours if they could hear my TV. They couldn’t. Sure we are all hard of hearing here.”

“Difficult neighbours can be found everywhere!” I said.

“That they can,” she said. “Now, tell me about these CD players.”

“Well, I did a price check,” I told her. “And the ones with the decent speakers are about €50. The smaller ones with low quality speakers are around €30, but you wouldn’t be able to hear from bed if we plug it in over there.”

“We’ll have to wait so” said Frau Bienkowski. “I spent €12.50 on that coffee jug last week,” so I can’t afford to spend any more money for a while.”

Frau Bienkowski looked at the clock. “Be careful you’re not late for your night shift!”

“Don’t worry, I’ve my eye on the time,” I told her.

“How long are you working tonight?” she asked.

“Until 2.30 in the morning,” I said. “When I’m on my way home, you’ll be awake in bed, hopefully with the radio on.”

“Yes,” she said.

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