Once upon a time, in the city of Hamburg, somebody who worked in a food delivery company forgot to wash his hands. Let’s call him Gerhard. Gerhard didn’t wash his hands because he was in a hurry, he had a huge pile of cucumbers he had to sort and load in his truck. The next day the cucumbers were shipped to one of the local wholesale dealers and from there, they appeared on shelves of the local markets. Two days after, a German woman died from an infection caused by the E. coli bacteria that probably came from Gerhard’s unwashed hands. But what’s really interesting is what happened next.
Before anybody was able to say “Scheiße”, German officials went on TV and blamed Spain for it. After all, it’s pure logic. Spain has been trying to sabotage everything German ever since the times when the Hohenzollerns failed in their attempts to acquire the Spanish crown. Not to mention even earlier accidents, in which Prussia’s colonial ambitions in Venezuela were strangled by arrogant Spanish forces. And what about Charles V, who openly admitted he spoke German only to his horses? Insults, insults.
Of course, if I was a German official who was in charge of discussing the problem, I would have waited for a definite proof before I unravel the full-scale of my revenge. But that’s me. German officials obviously doesn’t agree with this and now the result looks like a World War 1 scenario – too much irresponsible talking, too little strategic substance.
Even though a direct apology was not in the “to do” list, at least Germany openly admitted it made a mistake. Willing to repair the damage to its own reputation tainted by the outbursts of paranoia, Germany even decided to blame one of its local organic farms for it. Again without direct evidence. But surprise, that wasn’t the end of it all. In fact, the direct allegation against Spain (and the retracted claims afterwards) didn’t really matter for one simple reason – it is impossible for the end consumer to determine the actual geographical source of a cucumber. Therefore the damage automatically extended to all producers and among those who were very severely hit were farmers from the neighboring Netherlands. On the other side of the continent, Vladimir Putin, with an almost emotional and overtly populist announcement, put an immediate ban on all EU vegetable imports in Russia. Now, the EU will have to set up a fund (using taxpayer’s money) to help the badly hit farming industry all over the continent.
So everything one can say in the end is thank you Hans. Use soap next time.