There was an empty glass in the middle of the table. This glass belonged to Alfred. He was my first colleague.

At the age of fifteen I was offered a job in a bank for one month of my school vacation. Since I wanted to go for a trip to France, I had to earn some money and so I took the job. The personnel manager led me into the record office situated in the building’s basement.

The record office housed thousands and thousands of files and folders and card-index boxes. To be frank, at the very first moment I knew that this job threatened to bury me under tons of paper.

And there was Alfred. He was my colleague. To be precise, he was my tutor. After the personnel manager had left the record office, Alfred grasped my arm, approached his face to mine and told me: »You take the phone, and I am the boss«.

Taking the phone became a very important part of my work. I had been engaged for finding the bank clerks' files when they needed them in their offices. All of my activities followed the same pattern: the telephone rang and it was me who answered, one of the clerks ordered a file or even more than one and I had to go for the card-index boxes, to find the right index card, to take the file out of its folder and to send it to the clerk with a tiny special elevator.

Alfred was always sitting at his table. He had placed a glass just in front of him and from time to time he poured in some beer. Of course he also drank the beer but I never managed to see him doing so since I was heavily occupied running to and fro the record office.

Every day at four o'clock Alfred stood up, stretched his arms right out and said: »I tell ya, this work is really getting to me ...«

Then he put on his shoes with a sigh and left the record office while leaving behind an empty glass in the middle of the table.

(This story has been written in English)