Agression of Homeless Wienerwurst

My adventures with Wohnbeihilfe and Austrian post-office

Do you know somebody never making mistakes? It must be specie of artificial intellect. Humans simply need to miss a target now and then to guarantee one accurate shot.
I don’t claim to be possessor of absolute truth. Like any other mortal, I make wrong judgments on certain occasions in my search for true fact. I may be completely in the power of ego sometimes, feeling the world developed personal grudges against me.
But then change of tide brings ability for detached view and main condition for objectivity – inner piece. Unhappy people tend to be subjective and make those around them unhappy too. Those who steadily accumulate unhappiness: poor, sick, outcasts, drug-users, illegal immigrants, persons in refugee camps and prisoners – accumulate also enormous destructive force to strike back, subjected to uncontrollable aggression, which affects innocent people. Society must care more about deprived and downtrodden to improve general psychological climate and prevent murder, rape, robbing, domestic violence and suicide.
As I also witness certain deprivation, I started to use instinctively such instrument of defense as word to restore my equilibrium between good and evil. This instrument contains huge destructive and creative potential, in spite of mask of Internet gibberish it carries.
I always tried and would use every my word with consideration.
For certain time, I was very much concerned about my accommodation welfare delay, and as I live in conditions of shortage, checking post for weeks in vain got very much on my nerves. Feeling myself target of some nasty bureaucratic trick, I designed big amount of suppositions why the story went this way. Did I do something wrong with papers? Did financial crisis struck Austrian social institutions, and money that army of poor people were meant to get before Christmas, would be paid after New Year, because certain financial magnates needed these sums just to mend the wholes in national budget?  Do authorities want to solve crisis at the expense of poor, in spite of talks about social protection and security?
Many of my scenarios concerning evils of accommodation welfare institution seemed to be instantly false, when I found myself in the waiting hall of this organization yesterday. It was full of people, 80 per cent of whom spoke other language than German, and who gathered in Heiligenstädterstrasse office to solve this or that problem with their compensations. Many women in head-scarves were accompanied by children who ran around or cried. Men strolled nervously along narrow passage. And the eyes of all were fixed at the big tabloid with numbers of next visitor accepted in consulting rooms. There were others around me, who also had brain, heart and liver, who suffered and struggled as I did. Compassion helped me to regain inner balance.
But spending most of time in solitude, now I suffered from loud sounds, shrieks of children and agitated mumble of crowd, its nervousness and frustration hanging thick in the air.
When I eventually entered consultation room, woman in spectacles who seemed to be overstressed by quantity of visitors, told me with certain uncertainty in voice that money was sent on my home address a few weeks ago, and it had not come back to office, what meant only one thing – I had fetched it.
Some years ago dealing with clerks of Russian hierarchical authority administration, I would not stand for my rights, humbly accepting whatever I was told. But the speed of trouble accumulation  in my life, always surpassed positive output. Did you ever notice that puppies have natural friendliness, while older species stay indifferent or even emanate threat when disturbed? Mature dogs can attack intruder without obvious reason piling offends up for years. Never offer your fingers to homeless dog for reconciliation.
I stayed firmly at my place without further words, staring at the woman. And she felt forced to print paper confirming that money was sent on my home address by post.
I arrived in post office in Loeschenkohlgasse to face another huge queue there.
From the very first days of my stay in Vienna, using post service now and then, I experienced deep dissatisfaction every time I visited this department, situated in district of foreigners. What was the ground of this dissatisfaction?
It was time and nerve I needed in abundance to execute any post operation. What caught my eye during tormenting minutes in the queues was evident low efficiency of post clerks work, as small room was always cramped with clients. Five persons worked in such rhythm as if they could be easily replaced by two, and gave me impression of fussing around to justify their salary. They used to leave full room witnessing their self-important activity now and then for certain mysterious activities in deep recourses of office far from somebody’s eyes and also eagerly communicated to one another, trying to solve their organizational problems, which had nothing to do with clients, but were done on expense of clients time.
When eventually my turn came, I demonstrated some assertiveness, being armed with paper evidence. After certain hesitation post woman had nothing to do else than to take out a few green banknotes from cashier for me. And nobody gave apologies for delay or for fact that money lay in post office for a few weeks without giving any notice to me, who was close to hysterics and lived across the road! How many of my nervous sells would be saved, and how much cleaner are common energy space would be without those eruptions of desperation I came trough facing reality of ever empty mail-box and polluting the air with thought: “I hate Austria!”
The result of such experience is loss of trust. I would never trust any money transfers to this particular post office again.
My attitude toward anything post can bring was always of miraculous expectation. I almost completely lost this feeling in emigration, moreover it had been replaced by acute fear, as post brought nothing except bills.
But I like letters! If I get one, I enjoy the fact and study every small detail of envelope joyfully, holding it tight and tender, sensing through covers what news it would bring. Touching letter gives me certain idea about its content and about trip it made to reach me.
Once in cold Moscow winter, I went out of the flat with idea to buy a loaf of bread for a few coins I still had in my pocket.
I opened mail box mechanically deep in my thoughts. And there it lay at the bottom – long envelope with colorful foreign post mark and letters Sverige at the top.
It was hard economic situation in Moscow then, and grocery shops looked at us with the empty eye-sockets of shelves, when outside in the frost one could see long lines of people standing in vicinity of kiosks with vodka.
Nobody trusted post more. Foreign letters were often searched for “forbidden content”, and you could get your correspondence repaired with sticky paper, where envelope was torn out by –whom?- nobody knew persons responsible for supervision. Perhaps, the post clerks searched for money in letters, and naive senders from abroad, eager to save on money transfer, enclosed banknotes in envelopes and send it to the country that agonized in labor giving birth to new economic reality. Post offices had special watching screens, where envelopes were lighted through, and electronic sensors signalizing banknotes inclusion.
So finding the letter from my Swedish pen-friend in the box, I deeply apprehended the fact and its aesthetic value. There were two postmarks with fishes in rich blue and green at the front which looked absolutely fascinating in that gloomy morning. I squeezed envelope slightly, and it seemingly replied to me with light pulsation.
I managed to buy bread and also tin of sea cabbage- the only food available in grocery store, and hurried back home.
When in the flat, I put the kettle on the stove and washed my hands before opening the letter. It was Christmas card, and my Swedish correspondent wrote that he finished building his house and got work contract in Visby. He also wrote that he was going to cook turkey in his new oven for Christmas, and wished me to have happy New Year. Silly Santa Klaus smiled at me from post card. And to the inner side of it was clipped 20-dollars banknote.
I wonder, how it came trough post check?
It was the case when post delivery made me exceptionally happy.

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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