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Berlin Kiosk Blues On A Holiday

I'm in Berlin, and it's late Monday morning I decided to rent a bicycle for 24 hours as it's my second full day in Germany's capital. I learned that a bike was the right play by doing, which means getting around this spacious city with many public squares. I'm hungry and wanted to stop at a grocery store for water, cheese, bread, and fruit. You see, I arrived late on Saturday in Berlin and couldn't buy any food staples that day to get me through until Monday. Seeing how all grocery stores are closed on Sunday in most of Germany, I need to stock up before my tour begins.

Leveraging technology, I saw several grocery stores within a few kilometers of my hotel. That's the good news. The bad news is that I quickly learned it was a holiday in Berlin on Monday, which means all grocery stores were closed. Information is critical. If I had known this, I probably would have made a gallant attempt on Saturday to purchase some staples before the food stores closed for two consecutive days.

Ok, all food stores were closed on Monday, but I realized there had to be a kiosk or small neighborhood store that sold at least refreshments that day. After about 30 minutes of perusing several unfamiliar neighborhoods, I found a kiosk with the door open. The middle-aged man working the kiosk looked like he wanted to be anywhere but working the kiosk -- especially on a holiday when his family and friends may have been enjoying the fine weather that day.

The kiosk had no food but gum, sweat, beer, and water, so I surveyed his beer selection to make the best of the situation. I said in German, " Wie viel für dieses dunkle Bier?" and he replied "ein und dreisig Euro". What about "Für ein Weißbier?" He deadpanned, "ein und vierzig Euro." (€1.30 and €1.40). Realizing he didn't take credit, I dug into my pocket and determined my limit was 6 Euros, so being price-conscious was vital. I asked him why no prices exceeded the beer, water, and soda. He said, "Because I know all the prices." Not knowing when to quit, I said, "I know, but why not empower the customer to know by viewing the actual prices?"

He persisted, "If they want to know, they can just ask me, I'm the owner so I know." He saw that puzzled look on my face and said, "If I mark everything, there may be a change in my costs, so why bother?" I said quickly, "To allow the customer to make an informed decision independently, some customers like to compare prices to determine the best value or have limited funds and want to determine what they can and cannot afford."

In retrospect, at this point, I was a fool to think he understood what I was attempting to communicate. I didn't think changing the prices once or twice a year wasn't much work. But again, what do I know? In retrospect, it's his store, and he can do what he prefers.

After purchasing 2 German beers and a bottle of water for 5 Euros, I exasperatedly said, "I can't believe how difficult it is to find a place open on a holiday. I've been everywhere without success." He just looked at me as he reached for his ethnic music. That meant shut up, and leave my store as this conversation ends. He was done with me. As I gathered my supplies and hopped back on my bike to the hotel, my only thought was that he doesn't major in empathy. In other words, it's not his problem.

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