Nachhilfe and Fenstertage

As the month of May hoves into view, and with it a bevvy of public holidays, productivity sinks in some quarters as employees invoke their rights to optimise their consumption of holiday to take advantage of three public holidays that fall before or after a “Fenstertag”. I have already discussed the effect of Feiertage on the gig economy before now.

As the school year hurtles to a close, with Matura waiting for the final year students, and my wife busied into action to try to help cajole and nurture some charges through their exams, both “Nephew” and I are joining in the cause.

Nephew sees it as an opportunity to pass on the knowledge he crammed in his last year at school, some of it under my tutelage, as his friends’ younger siblings try to get their way through the Matura minefield. Nephew is confident that he can help and has set up his stall offering very intensive “packages” of sessions, particularly with Fenstertage and public holidays, and no other revenue stream of his own. He is finally being slightly more enterprising, having been brought down to earth with a bump recently, as the job he felt he was “certain to get” didn’t even call him for interview.

My style of Nachhilfe is far different. My wife has press-ganged me into doing a lot of correction of English essays for charges at her school, offering my services to help out a colleague who is struggling to help enough of the children. So I’ve been getting used to reading teenage Austrian handwriting and trying to correct their essays. It is not really Nachhilfe like nephew’s, where he spends time explaining things they don’t understand and giving them problems to solve, for an hourly fee. My payment will be a barbecue from my wife’s colleague, but having never had children, after the blood, sweat and tears of getting Nephew and a friend’s son through their Matura English, I don’t mind helping out a good colleague of my wife’s, but although I feel I am helping her charges, I know that the teaching world did not miss out on a great teacher.

It is clearly the time of year for good turns. I recently help clear out a friend’s mother’s flat, and now am helping my friend convert it into a Pendlerwohnung to help him eke out a bit of pin money to flesh out his pension. To be honest, it is quite good fun to be pressed into service and helping doing a little place up, and while I am more use planning and budgeting, the days I have been spending helping out have also been good in that we have been able to listen to some old 70s and 80s music, as we paint, plaster, fill and sand our way towards a transformation that has seen a brown tiled bathroom and wood panelled kitchen with units from the early 80s ripped out. The process will be complete when we turf the tiled tabletop, and the very 1970s spotlights, and replace them with a series of countersunk light fittings. My friend felt guilty about transforming the place, until he realised that he would always just remember it as his mother’s flat if he didn’t do something radical.

Tomorrow, 1st May sees the Worker’s Day march and reception at City Hall. It promises to be the end of an era as Michael Häupl presides over the event for the last time. I am helping get a friend’s father to City Hall to catch up with his friends from the party. For many years he marched, even well into retirement, but now even the logistical process of getting him and his wheelchair to and from his little flat will be very much a major operation. Fortunately the necessary two cars and parking are all arranged to allow my friend’s father to join in the event.

With my wife teaching and marking examination scripts and helping her colleagues to get their Matura classes through, we are not taking much advantage of the plethora of Feiertage and Fenstertage, although we have also arranged to have a couple of days away. But by and large we find a Niederösterreich Card keeps us in things to do for day trips or afternoons away, with all sorts of things to see and do. At some point we’ll head off down to near Balaton once the Matura is over for another year.

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