Whatever you do in Germany, chances are the evidence surrounds you everywhere.
There is an epidemic of printing on extraordinarily large sheets of paper. The Suddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany’s main broadsheets, has enough paper in it to wrap half the fish in the Atlantic. Holding it arm-to-arm is exercise.
Return a stack of books to the library and you’ll be given a scroll of paper longer than the books you returned. This way you will never forget every last book you borrowed but never read.
Everything from train tickets to supermarket receipts are large enough to displace everything else in your wallet.
Even bookmarks look like they were made to mark books.
|Eat your heart out rain forest (or let receipts do it for you)|
Germans don’t just like paperwork, they love working on paper. Whether it’s to tell you to pay an invoice or congratulate you on having settled it, your utility providers will always be happy to send you another envelope. Your bank will require that you print your statements every month, even if you have Internet Banking. You’ll be charged if you try to print your statements outside of the allotted time period.
The verbal is an intangible memory: things are validated only after they are printed on large paper.
Even the streets are a dead rain forest bought to life with ink. A wall has been left behind if it isn’t advertising Charleston classes or bearing angry paste-ups. After a few months in Berlin you yourself will have amassed a graveyard of programs for festivals, workshops and participatory events you don’t remember. Your draws will overspill with flyers for experimental music nights and speculative exhibitions you may have never attended. But you will definitely have the flyer. Your only choice will be to put everything on the wall and reinforce your Sallowist credentials.
Tertiary copies of receipts for food shopping, screw-drivers, bike parts and beers will provide you with enough flammable material to survive half the winter. Especially if you use Internet cafes.
The Internet cafes I have used all have two things in common: at least one person talking on Skype loudly at all times and they all print huge receipts. It's a way for the owner to punish people who are petulant enough to ask for one by printing the total in a tiny-size font on an A-4 page.
That's anti-receipt activism one can only admire.