Monday, June 13, 2005

Eastern European Shenanigans

Yesterday, I was listening to Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio One talking with Jachym Topol, a writer from the Czech Republic, a prize-winning novelist, poet and journalist. From a famous literary dissident family.
He was humourous, in a very dry way...and then he mentioned that as a child, his family used to cross the border into Germany or Austria and smuggle in needed items.

My Tetka Ankica used to buy lots of packets of juice, with lots and lots of straws. Then she would employ me and my cousin Danica to roll up large denominations of Lira (don't ask me how she got Lira, I was a kid) two bills at a time, carefully cut open the paper the straws were encased in and stuff the Lira in the straws. Then she would pack all the cousins up for a day trip to Trieste to buy cheap womens sweaters and blouses to sell on the Pijaca.
Once she had all the blouses and sweaters, she would put them in the empty suitcases she had brought along.

Then, she would get her ass up at 4:00am to sit in the Pijaca to sell them.
I know she got up at 4:00am because, we went with her more than once.
In fact, she once left my 11 year old ass in charge for a few minutes to haggle the price of a red sweater with cherries embroidered around the scoop neck.
I failed miserablely and the would be customer walked away in disgust.

It was on that hot day in July that I knew my future was not going to be in the Retail Business.