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Dowels and wood putty hold our society together: “We are all the same in the hardware store” – Berlin




Do you know the New World? So not the new world, in which we live in a pandemic, wear masks, can order everything from bike couriers and the SPD has serious chances in the federal election, but the New World in Neukölln!

Tagesspiegel columnist Peter Wittkamp.Photo: Peter von Felbert

This slightly strange shopping and adventure niche right next to the Hasenheide opposite the best building in town (Karstadt am Hermannplatz), which always reminds me a little of the term white trash.

It’s strange. The New World is actually a solid place – but it still exudes a strong desolation and sadness. A bit like Nicolas Cage as a building. Somehow this is how I imagine shopping centers in rural America, where a particularly large number of people voted for Trump.

I haven’t quite got a complete overview of what’s going on in the New World, but I can certainly record the following: a supermarket, an organic market, a Kik, a dm, a concert hall, a bowling alley, a kebab stand, another stand with something to eat and a hardware store.

However, thanks to Wikipedia, I’m a little more familiar with the history of the New World. It has been used as a place to serve beer since 1867. Then it gets wild: Among other things, there was a horse running track, a large pond with a fountain, an open-air ring, a recently invented electric train and a water slide in the New World.

They were all here: Goebbels, Dutschke, Lindenberg and Jimi Hendrix

And what do we have today? A kebab stand and a kik. Thank you I don’t even want to remind you of the famous Bock beer festival, to whose great success it is said that the most beautiful woman’s leg was sought in a competition.

One for all: The New World within sight of the Hermannplatz underground station.Photo: IMAGO / Klaus Martin Höfer

Speaking of great appearances: a wide variety of people have made appearances in the New World over the years. Joseph Goebbels, Rudi Dutschke, the Walker Brothers, Dire Straits, Udo Lindenberg and Jimi Hendrix. You see, somehow there was always something for everyone in the New World.

And that brings us to my most recent visit there. I had to go to the hardware store in the New World to buy paint. As I sat there on the steps and smoked a cigarette before buying paint, I noticed something: DIY stores are one of the few places in the world where everyone is almost the same.




Numerous customers walked in and out of the hardware store while I was smoking there. But in contrast to other businesses, it was not possible to identify a certain type of person. That would not be a problem in the organic market. But not here. Students, the elderly, migration background, Berlin foreground, thick, thin. Everything included.

The poor go to the hardware store because they have to repair everything themselves. The richer ones allow themselves the luxury of building something up again and finally feeling something again. You all meet here.

If you urgently need an employee, you won’t find one

Andy Warhol once said roughly: No matter how rich or poor you are, the nice thing is: A cold Coca Cola tastes the same for everyone, for the president and for a beggar. And it is the same in the hardware store. No matter how poor or wealthy you are: If you urgently need an employee, you won’t find one.

Before the hardware store came: The New World on a historical view.Photo: IMAGO / Arkivi

Or on the cutting of wood. No matter who you are, your piece of beech will only be cut to 80 by 40 centimeters when your number lights up, which you had to draw beforehand. Or on the shelf with the dowels: whether you have studied or not, you have absolutely no idea which are the right ones.

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I am slowly beginning to understand why DIY stores were given preferential treatment during the pandemic and why they were allowed to reopen much earlier than other stores. They hold our society together. You cross borders. They are the social putty in which you can buy real putty. We are the same between aisle 18 (wood goods) and aisle 19 (tiles).

We need a lot more hardware stores. Best of all, one in every neighborhood. But if there were a water slide, a beer bar and Jimi Hendrix around these markets, I wouldn’t have much against it.

And let’s be honest: It is high time we reintroduced the big competition for the most beautiful woman’s leg. But because it’s 2021, we’re also looking for the most beautiful man’s leg and the most beautiful diverse leg. And no matter how pretty the legs found in this way are: They all walk the same long way in the hardware store looking for an employee.

Peter Wittkamp is a copywriter and gag writer. He is currently the main author of “Today Show Online” and helped set up the #weilwirdichlieben campaign run by the Berlin transport company. Now and then he writes a book, publishes on Instagram as Peter_Wittkamp or tweets under the slightly megalomaniac name @dictator. In the Tagesspiegel, Peter Wittkamp illuminates a Berlin phenomenon every 14 days.



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