A Secret Love Letter to the Steinecke Ladies

I think we all agree that Steinecke’s logo is the most wayward logo in existence.

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But it’s not about that. I look at that logo and its bakery shop from my window and go there to buy my rolls several mornings a week. And have been doing so for years. It is still very exciting. Every time. And it is getting even more exciting. Why?

Fact is, I love currant buns. I wake up every morning dreaming of the currant buns from downstairs. They are my main motivation to get out of bed. In the beginning I thought it was a coincidence that the women working there were so unfriendly. But after a while I noticed that they were like that every time. I became scared of those women. And getting my buns became a proper adventure every morning. I was afraid that the elderly blond one, who seemed to be the commander of the others, would scream at me again when she didn’t understand what I was ordering. I began to speak softer and softer, and the blond dragon made it clear to me with her perfidious eyes that she was only guessing what I wanted to have. Although there was no point in guessing because I wanted the same thing every morning.

Then I moved away. Then I went gluten-free. Then I moved back into my old flat. I was overwhelmed by how the neighborhood had changed. But some things… never change. The Steinecke was still there, the wayward logo screaming into my window. I kept walking by it in the course of my everyday life. And I started to flirt with the idea of trying the currant buns to see if they were still the same. Or maybe I wanted to know if I was still the same.

I was.

Trembling, I went into the shop. In an overly soft manner, I ordered my bun. She didn’t understand. I had to repeat myself. I stuttered. That made her happy. I got my bun. I loved it.

I wondered – and still do – if the carrot-and-stick principle applies to my enjoyment. I found a way to deal with it, however, namely: Every morning I would wake up my boyfriend with the freshest stories about the “Steinfotzen“ (“stone cunts”) with real, exaggerated and invented details. Somehow, they are all true. By making a story out of the experience I mastered the trauma.

One day, something very special happened. One of the younger ladies asked me if I wanted to have a loyalty card for snack rolls. She said she thought I could use it. I was really surprised and wanted to hug her. After seven years she officially acknowledged that she was recognizing me as one of her customers. Nevertheless, I held myself back, the fun part would come the next day. Or so I thought. I was very excited the following morning. I ordered my currant roll and waved complicity with my loyalty card. She didn’t even change a thing in her facial expression and said, “A currant roll is not a snack roll.”

A currant roll is not a snack roll. Why then, did she give me a f**king loyalty card???

I was very upset and ashamed and didn’t go back for weeks before my normal groove kicked in  again. Last week I went downstairs crying because of a fight I had had. I cried so much I could not even speak to order anything. I tried but it didn’t work. I cried my eyes out. Her gestures unchanged, she passed me a currant roll and asked, “You drink your coffee black, right?” And prepared it for me without waiting for an answer. All I could think was: I love you.

Justine Roll

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