Did your drug dealer give you a discount?

It’s 8:30 Sunday morning and I’ve been up all night working at the entrance of some pet-food factory turned nightclub.  I’ve spent the last 10 hours asking for the twelve Euro entry fee (Zwölf Euro bitte) and have done so well I’ve almost convinced myself I can speak German. Feeling proud but exhausted I look for my boss on the dance floor so I can get my 8€ an hour and finally go home to bed.

The party is raging. Hundreds of Germans, under the influence of whatever it is that keep a person dancing til 8am, are shifting trance like from side to side, a few of the livelier ones are even jumping up and down. The headlining DJ, only two hours late for his shift, has just started playing. Happy that things are going well my boss offers me a shot of vodka instead of my pay. I take it.

Later, when I tell a local friend about all this, she said, not at all ironically, “Normal Saturday night in Berlin then?”

Anyone who has visited Berlin knows it’s famous for its party all morning all night club scene. So I wasn’t even that surprised when people were still rolling into the club at 7am. What surprised was how cheap they all were.

A twelve Euro entrance fee is a lot of money in a city where your average beer costs less than 3 and a sandwich on the street costs 2 (after 3 months I have yet to establish the going price for anything but beer or sandwiches).

Of the 900 or so people who came in at least a few hundred asked for a discount, assuming they could score a bargain more easily from the friendly Canadian at the entrance than from their drug dealer. Guess again.

“I’m a student” (so is everyone else here) “I only have 3 Euro” (how are you going to buy drinks?) “I’m unemployed” (go find a job). There were many other objections; luckily my German is so schlecht I couldn’t understand them. Typical conversations went something like this:

“blah blah blah”

“zwölf Euro bitte”

“blah blah blah”

“zwölf Euro bitte”

“I’m on the guest list”

“zwölf Euro bitte”

“It’s my Birthday!”

“Happy Birthday. Now that’ll be zwölf Euro”

All in all my first job in Deutschland went swell. So swell in fact that I considered making haggling with cracked out German speaking clubbers my new career.  Unfortunately I went and got myself a respectable job teaching English.


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