A One-Act Play by Jan Polatschek
The Scene: The Old Town of Nuremberg. c.1050. Nuremberg, the city of mass Nazi rallies from 1933 to 1938. A city almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing in World War II. The location of the Nuremberg War Trials in 1945-47.
Cast: In order of appearance:
Jan, an American visitor.
Carolina, a Philippine restaurant server.
Erika, a German office worker.
Helmut, a German office worker.
Alex, a German hotel receptionist.
Voice of Train Conductor
Scene 1. 2 November, 2016, 08:30. Hotel Agneshof Nürnberg. Breakfast.
Jan: Carolina, the buffet is excellent with many choices of cheese, meats, and breads. I especially enjoyed the smoked salmon and cream cheese with herbs. But the scrambled eggs are not well cooked. Please ask the chef to re-heat my eggs.
Carolina: No problem Mr. Jan. I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.
Jan: Carolina, it was worth the wait. Thank you for help, except it looks like there are about six eggs in this omelet!
Carolina: Yes, Mr. Jan. Just part of our service.
Scene 2: 10:15. Municipal Building, Old Town Square, Room 201
Erika: Guten Morgen.
Jan: Guten Morgen. I’m sorry my German is not very good. Can we speak English?
Erika: Of course. How can I help you?
Jan: I am Jan Polatschek. Here is my Passport for identification. I would like to request a copy of my father’s birth certificate. His name is Otto Polatschek. He was born here in Nuremberg on February 24, 1916.
Erika: Fills out a small slip of paper. Why do you want your father’s birth certificate?
Jan: I understand that children of former German citizens are eligible to apply for a German Passport. I am considering applying for one.
Erika: Of course. Please wait a moment.
Erika climbs a small ladder and retrieves a large black ledger from a shelf crammed with other large black ledgers. On her desk she opens the book to the appropriate page, thumbs down the column and apparently finds the proper entry.
Erika: Mr. Polatschek, the fee for the certificate is ten Euros. Now please wait in the hallway outside Room 203.
Jan: Danke. Guten Tag.
Scene 3: Hallway, outside Room 203. Ten minutes later. 10:30.
Helmut: Mr. Polatschek. Here is a copy of the birth certificate you requested. As you can see it is signed and affixed with a seal from our office.
Jan: Thank you so much for your rapid service.
Helmut: No problem sir. We are happy to help.
Jan: May I make a comment?
Jan: You Germans are so organized!!
Scene 4: 12:30 Lobby, Hotel Agneshof Nürnberg
Jan: Thank you Alex, my stay here was wonderful. I especially enjoyed wandering around the Old Town and my walk up to the Castle. And I stocked up on Lebkuchen that I bought at the square. Now, is it possible you can call me a taxi? I need to go to the Railway Station.
Alex: Of course, Mr. Polatschek. I will call now. Please wait outside. The taxi will be here shortly.
Scene 5: Outside the hotel. 12:32
Jan to Taxi Driver: Please take me to the Railway Station. I travel to Frankfurt. And I am surprised that you are here so quickly.
Driver: No problem sir. As you can see, here in Nuremberg, we Germans are organized!
Scene 6. Frankfurt Railway Station. Arrival 3:30 pm
Train Conductor: Announcement first in German, then in English. We are arriving ten minutes late because of track repair. We apologize for any inconvenience. We wish you a pleasant day.
Jan anticipates that his connecting train for Bonn will leave exactly on time. With only minutes to spare, Jan pulls his two bags behind him as he rushes down the stairs and through the crowded underground passageway. He finds his new platform number, pulls his bags up the stairs to the platform and then up the steps on to the awaiting train.
Jan perspires through his winter clothing, mops his brow, catches his breath and plops down into his reserved seat.
Of course, the train to Bonn departs exactly on time.
Jan calms down, thinks for a moment and whispers to himself, “Sometimes, sometimes, just sometimes! I wish that the Germans were not always so damn organized!”