“Change, change,” mumbled the old clerk as his slow fingers sought the right amount, “Everybody wants change, today.”
It was a comment that needed no answer, but the clerk at the next counter—a young fellow hardly out of school—responded immediately, as if irritated by the old man’s teasing:
“And why not? Sometimes change is good; it’s needed.”
The aged man stopped, his gnarled hand in mid-air, and turned around to address the clerk, whose face was full of enthusiasm and something else, satisfaction perhaps.
“He’s nothing but a socialist,” he said softly, yet not able to keep the anger out of his words.
“Is that so bad, old man,” countered the clerk, not without affection, “now maybe you'll be able to afford another pair of glasses; maybe they'll be able to save this tumbling economy.”
“Or have to close down the store, and we'll be out of a job,” said the older, with a humph.
“That’s the problem with your generation, always seeing the worst; grumbling, griping, grieving. Face it; your party lost the election. Life will go on.”
“Not all life,” said the old man, sadly, turning back around to face his little customer whose hand was still open for the change.
The exultant clerk couldn’t stop talking now, even though he found himself addressing the elder's mute and stubborn back.
“Now don’t start sounding like one of those “sanctity of life” types. As far as I’m concerned it’s a matter of definitions--semantics. This change is just what we need. You’ll see. We haven’t had a man like him in the capital before. Don’t you see how he brings people together? There’s an energy there. They love him.”
“Ay, they do,” admitted the older man as he gave the child a handful of change. Something like a shadow was on his face, and he smiled—rather sorrowfully, David thought--as he reached into a jar on the counter, pulled out a red, striped peppermint and bestowed it, as an apology for the unnecessarily long wait.
David skipped and ran all seven blocks to his crowded ghetto. Children up and down the block were putting toys away and rushing through narrow doorways into the cheerless tenement walls, and the intense evening sun made yellow stars of the dingy cobblestones.
Although he was greatly enjoying the peppermint, a parting gift from an out-of-touch generation, David felt that the younger man was right: Change is good!
It was great to be a young German in 1933.
“Come quickly, my eldest son,” said his mother pulling him inside. “It’s almost Sabbath.”