Lady in front of me, not exactly little old lady but sort of busty, biggish though short, white-haired German lady, apologetic and wordy, holding out a pillowcase and a zipper: I tried to fix it and I sewed it in like 5 times and I just couldn't get the corners right. It took me forever. I couldn't do the corners, so I figured I'd bring it to you. Can you do it? How much would it cost?
Amused young tailor-shop man, brown-skinned, fit, short-cropped hair, laughing at/with her: Yes, I can do that.
Lady: How much would it be?
Young man: 8 euros.
Lady: That's fine. I don't care. I don't mind the sewing but the taking out was a huge pain. I spent 3 hours on this yesterday afternoon. 8 euros is worth it to me. If you do it and I don't have to I'm happy. That's great. So you can do the corners? You see where the zipper goes? And you can trim off the edges of the zipper here [showing and folding back with fingers], I don't care, whatever you want, I'm happy to let you do it, I spent enough time on it, 8 euros is totally worth it.
Young man: Fine. We can have it to you by Saturday.
Lady: OK, so next week then.
Young man: Well, next week, if you like. When will you come for it?
Lady: if you want me to come Saturday, I'll come Saturday. Just tell me.
Young man: OK, we'll have it done by Saturday. [Half-laughing all this time]
Lady: Actually, Thursday of next week is totally fine. It's not even for me. I'm going to see her the end of next week so next Thursday is good.
Young man: OK, next Thursday. [She pays; she leaves.]
Me: [complicitous] [and trying to go along with the mood] Well, I have this sweater here for my son and I haven't spent any time sewing it and I don't have as much time as that lady, I need it this week. Is this something you can do? [showing him] [Max left the sweater with us 2 months earlier and I was supposed to get a seam under the arm sewed up and hadn't yet; Max was returning the next day.]
Young man: [still half-laughing] oh yes, I can do that.
Me: How long will it take?
Young man: Just a second. [Disappears into the next room and starts his sewing machine up.]
Me: [picks up a wrapped chocolate from a bowl of candy and pops in mouth]
Young man: Here you go. [Hands over fixed sweater after 1.5 minutes; sweater was weighing on my conscience for 2 months]
Me: [mouth full of chocolate and embarrassment] Wow! Thank you! That's amazing! All done? What do I owe you?
Young man: Don't worry about it.
Me: What? You serious? No, really. What can I pay you?
Young man: No problem.
So I skedaddled home on the bike. Still chewing the chocolate.
Tuesday, grocery store, post–morning Weight Watchers meeting, me waiting in line to buy a couple of chicken breasts to bread and fry for Felix's lunch, another short, white-haired, busty and bustly German lady in front of me:
Lady, talking to me and to chicken guy behind counter (she's buying some kind of non-poultry things): I love poultry! Wish I could buy it. But my boyfriend can't stand it.
Me (feeling addressed; thinking "boyfriend" wasn't a category I was associating with this lady): Well, can't you get it just for yourself?
Lady: Oh no, he smells it. Can't stand the smell.
Lady: He was forced to eat it in his childhood. He associates it with his childhood. He can't stand the smell. That and [now I'm blanking on the other thing she mentioned]. Oh no. It's a childhood thing. He can't stand it. Had to eat it in his childhood. [Kind of etcetera.]
Man behind the counter [lean older German man but younger than the lady; clearly very efficient with meat-type things]: something I didn't quite catch but it sounded as though he was saying: childhood? well, if he associates it with childhood that should be a good thing!
Anyway, she went off with her non-poultry meat items and I was next, got my chicken breasts for Felix, and went home thinking about the ladies who like to chat to the shopkeepers - and me, too, enjoying the chats.