The Beer Glass Catastrophe

Beer tent

In the moment of the catastrophe, everything was frozen perfectly in time. Isabelle could study the whole situation, all its minute and painful details. The stack of full beer glasses piled high on her arms, the loud people all around the Oktoberfest tent, her arms aching under the weight of the glasses, and Ursel, leaping forward and reaching out. Isabelle knew what would happen and she knew that she could not prevent it. The glasses were blocking her sight and she could only feel, not see, how one glass was slipping from her grasp. Of course, it had been foolish to carry this many glasses at once. This was her first day working as a waitress at the Oktoberfest and she had been too eager, too enthusiastic. Now the very last glass she had picked up started slipping. In the hot atmosphere of the beer tent, it was almost pleasant to feel the ice-cold surface of the glass stroke her fingers as she vainly tried to seize it. She felt her hold on the entire stack loosening, the chain reaction tearing the intricate web of dependency between the glasses. As in slow motion, she abandoned the glass that was already making its way to the floor and tried to hold on to the rest. Wildly, she grappled with them, but the damage was done. First one, then in a cascade, they all went down.

Crush!
With a great and loud clatter, each one of them shattered, spilling their golden contents over Isabelle, the surrounding customers, and the ground.
A sudden silence fell over the tent. She stood there, drenched in beer, with the sweet and deep smell of ale in her nose and all the faces turned towards her. Suddenly, someone to the left of her broke out laughing and in a moment, the entire tent was bursting at the seams with laughter. Only Isabelle didn’t laugh. She stood in the middle of all this mayhem, her heart pounding in her chest and her throat tightening. Then in a flash, she turned around and covering her tear-stained face with her hands, ran out. Isabelle passed Ursel, the stout and older waitress who had supervised her on this very first day but didn’t pay attention to her. She didn’t return to work for hours, as she felt too ashamed.

On the one hand, she felt guilty that she had abandoned her post and she wished nothing more than to be as far away from the Oktoberfest as possible. But on the other hand, her sense of duty left her no peace and she had to at least make sure that the other waitresses were doing alright. It was late, very late, and the last drunken celebrants were dragging themselves or each other out of the tents. The moment she stepped back inside, one of the waitresses lifted her head and looked over to her. It was Ursel, the broad woman with her thick red arms exuding a sort of inexhaustible energy. After a moment, the two other waitresses also glanced up from their work and watched her from the other side of the tent. Isabelle could feel a sudden heat in her cheeks, and she knew that she must have turned bright red.

“You are gonna stand there or what? Come over here and grab something to scrub.”, called Ursel, in a commanding but kind voice. Timidly and unsure, Isabelle walked over, while the other waitresses had already begun cleaning again. Isabelle began to relax and worked more eagerly on the beer stains and at the end, she even found herself joining in with the other waitresses´ conversations.

When all was tidied up and the other two waitresses were already gone, Ursel took Isabelle aside for a moment. She looked her straight into the eyes and for the first time, Isabelle noticed the hollowness around her eyes and tiredness in the older woman’s strong body. Her black hair was still tied up in a firm knot, but her face was exhausted, and her big arms seemed to be very heavy as she crossed them in front of her chest. “You can’t be pulling that kind of number on us again.”, she began with a stern voice. “You left me and the girls high and dry there the last couple of hours.” Her green eyes kept a steady look on Isabelle and a pang of guilt pricked at her heart. “But.”, Ursel said in a softer tone. „You came back and that shows good spirit. When you start something, it is always gonna be tough and you are bound to make mistakes. That’s unavoidable. How you deal with them is your choice.” She left a pause. “So, what will it be? Can I count on you tomorrow?”

For a moment, Isabelle hesitated, but she knew the answer to Ursel’s question already.
“Yes. I’ll be there.”, she said. A smile played around Ursel’s lips, and she patted Isabelle’s shoulder with a heavy hand. “Good to hear that, my child.”, she answered warmly. “Then go get some sleep, you’ll need it tomorrow.”

On the next day, Isabelle woke up early with a strange sense of being bursting with energy. She felt a strong desire to prove herself worthy of Ursel’s trust and make it up to her and the other waitresses. Quickly, she got dressed and got ready for the job. Now, it is your turn to help Isabelle and the other waitresses at the Oktoberfest to serve the beer-starved customers! Grab a Maßkrug, fill it up with delicious beer, and get going!
 

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