By chance I sat next to Erwin. Next summer Erwin will be 60. He is educated, well read, has travelled throughout the world, is fairly rich and influential. He is also slim and sporting and for his age good looking.
He told me about his last weekend. He went to Basle to visit the Art Museum. He wanted to enjoy Chagall’s works.
At the ticket office there was a crowd. Erwin hated crowds, but he joined the end of the queue and waited patiently. When at last it was his turn and that had taken a good quarter of an hour, he wanted to buy a single ticket. The young cashier looked at him for a bit longer than necessary and then said to him, “If you have your old age pension pass with you, I can sell you a cheaper ticket for pensioners”.
Erwin could scarcely believe that he was not dreaming, but that this was really happening to him. Within he was boiling, but outwardly he controlled himself as always. He replied with a false laugh that unfortunately he didn’t yet have an old age pass and therefore would pay the normal price. The cashier looked at him with pity.
And so for Erwin the day was spoiled. He had probably never suffered such an affront. He looked at Chagall’s paintings, but didn’t really see them. He just wanted to get away from there and return home.
I listened to him, but didn’t really find the right words of comfort. I think, that really he didn’t even want to be comforted.
Image source: Marc Chagall: Der Jude in Hellrot | © Staatliches russiches Museum St. Petersburg