Red dress (story my school colleagues told me)

During my economics studies in Prague, a friend from Brno called me and asked me to come. He needed help right away. In his factory the workers had gone on strike. It was August and I had holidays. I was flattered that a factory director asked me for help.

I packed my things and took the first train to Brno. The factory was not doing well and my friend had cut the annual bonus of 500 crowns for the workers. Understandably emotions went high. Everywhere on the building it was sprayed “Give us the 500 back” or “Give us back the 500, you snake!!”

My friend asked me to pass myself off as a journalist, to listen to the employees, take them seriously and tell them that I would write an article in a newspaper. He also explained to me that he would have to fire part of the employees, if they did not disclaim the annual bonus but he did not want to say it that openly. Otherwise he would split them into two camps and then he preferred being thought of as a snake.

I did not have much clue how journalists worked but I asked questions and listened to the workers. I spent almost the entire day with the striking workers and filled the entire notebook I had brought along. In the afternoon I was pretty done from the tension of trying not to do anything wrong.

In the evening my friend and I went to a wine cellar in a nearby village. I changed and dressed in a bright red dress with spaghetti straps and a wide flying skirt. The evening was great; we drank good wine, ate a lot and listened to stories from a world which back then was still incomprehensible to me.

Because everyone had drunk and it was very late, almost 4 o’clock in the morning, we stayed overnight. I agreed with my friend that he would go to work in the morning and I would come later on when I awoke by bus. He did not think it a good idea but when he saw that I was not willing to get up after two hours of sleep, he let me have my will.

When I woke up it was past 11am. I took a shower and dressed in my red dress. I did not have anything else with me. Then I walked to the bus stop. Just that there were not many connections. The previous bus to Brno had left at 11am and the next bus would only depart at 3pm. I asked for alternatives and was told that 5km away was a train station and from there trains would go to Brno every hour. I did not want to wait. I went on my way. I was a main road with lots of traffic. It would have been easy to drive these few kilometres by hitchhiking. But I did not want to. Hitchhiking alone was out of question for me and I had my principles.

I was very hot at this August noon, the sun was burning and me naïve 20 years old was walking towards Brno in my bright red dress.

After two and a half kilometres a car stopped next to me and the driver said with the voice of a supreme commander “Get in”. I looked at him puzzled. A middle-aged man with a beard, whom I had never seen before. I walked on. He got out of the car and said even louder “Get in”. “Why should I get into a stranger’s car? I don’t want to be driven”, I answered annoyed.

“Young lady, I am the local veterinarian. I already saw you before when I drove in the other direction. You probably missed it but you are a public danger. Every driver turns his head after your red dress. Me too. It is only a question of time until someone causes an accident”, he answered less brusque, almost polite.

“Where to are you going?” he asked quietly.

I gave in and let him drive me to the station. Also principles have to be questioned under certain circumstances.

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