Been there, done that

It’s been a while. I mean regarding my store. Opening on a sunny day in September 2014 organizing a Chaos Draft and just rolling on since then. I still remember the first person walking in and directly asking when the draft would happen. I had literally just opened the store and there he was immediately. It definitely gave me a huge confidence boost, that I was on the right path doing what I loved. Thankfully, I have become also good friends with my very first customer. Who knows? Maybe it was some sort of cosmic way that signaled a promising beginning 🙂 And that it was.

I usually write my articles in short or long sections. This time though, it’s only gonna be one long thought coming over to you hopefully fluidly enough that it will all make sense. I am still unsure how many of you read my articles. It’s already quite clear to me that feedback in Ingolstadt regarding anything related to my store is taboo. People don’t react or initiate any type of discussion after reading any of my articles so I don’t know what exactly are people expecting or desire regarding my store and myself even. Here’s what’s been going on for the past year. More like 2 years maybe. I am not so sure about that though. I think my lack of interest possibly started growing 2 years ago without me even noticing, but I could be wrong…

I stopped loving what I do. It’s been about 2 years, as mentioned above since I didn’t feel that I am as fully committed into my shop as I used to be in the start. It’s become a bit of a daytime jail. I wake up, do whatever, get to work, go home, and repeat the next day. Technically everyone does this. Regardless if one wakes up at 5 a.m. or 10 a.m., has nightshift or late shift, almost everyone goes to work. And subsequently, everyone feels trapped. Some more than others, but the feeling is there. I am certain there is no one thing that everyone can do that fixes that. Work is going to wear you down one way or another. For me, it has been a while since the corrosion started. There are clear reasons why that happened. Everything is related. Everything is connected. One decision can impact everything around you. One such decision that I made unconsciously actually is that I dislike the German language. It’s awesome if you were born here or grew up here and learned it by default. That’s great. It’s a lottery regarding that. You were born on this patch of land and you learned the language (and have a bazillion other benefits that the lottery losers don’t have). Perfect. But for the unlucky ones who were not Germanized from the get-go, things aren’t that easy. I am not singing myself a sad song. I simply can’t take it anymore and that’s ok 🙂 I don’t always need to act tough like it’s all good and I have everything under control. Letting go is the best way to move forward on many occasions. I have tried multiple times to learn the language to moderate success. I don’t have the patience to learn it either. I have been here for about 8-9 years and I have had very small time frames where I wanted to push hard and learn the language. It didn’t take long to fall back into English because not being able to express myself to the degree that I want caused me great frustration and depression. For a young hopeful mind it should have not been that big of an obstacle, but it turned out to be a race I would never win. My low german skills transferred themselves into my shop. I greeted people on a daily basis with a crooked salutation and I was frighteningly confused every damn time a person came in and spoke to me in an accent. “What does he want?” or “What is she talking about?”. I began to dislike the German language even more because of my inability to learn it. That’s not fair though…I wasn’t incapable of learning it, I just couldn’t stand to do this from zero. There are a lot of questions that open too many doors that I don’t think this article can close in a decent amount of time. Why did I come here in the first place if I don’t like the German language? Why didn’t I push harder? What made me want to stay here?…and so many more. Like I said, too many. Not enough time and I don’t want to bore you with political reasons, lack of possibilities, fear of being poor, etc. It’s all in the past now. So that’s why I am looking towards the future.

I quit.

Well, almost 🙂 I am done with the shop in the sense that you know it. My position in the store was never for a second meant to be the cashier, the front page dude who is the poster boy of the Arena. It’s not me anymore and it was never me. If you ask my dudes who knew me pre-Arena, they would tell you what a crazy fun guy I was always getting in the faces of people with counterarguments over songs, movies, art in general and not only! Or trying to bring into this life whatever vibe was coming next from the people around me who filled the desperate hole in my soul with laughter, music, drinks, good times, long nights in cafes, silly dreams and amazing sunrises…I want that guy to come back. I don’t think he ever went away. It’s just a side of me that I kept on standby for a while now. One while too much I would say. Being in customers service is definitely not my thing. I will not take away anything from those who are. There are enough people who are much more competent than I am in that department. I can come off as abrasive, angry, frustrated and sometimes mean and rude. I don’t want to go through those things with customers who pay for my actual livelihood. I don’t want to give my shop a bad name because I can’t keep my temper in check. My shop is the best creation that I have brought into this reality we call life up to now. With half a heavy heart but with a full refreshing breath of actual relaxation, I will also say that it’s time for me to let go of it. It brought me great pride and I am happy to look at myself in the mirror and say “I did that. That’s mine”. Even now, after so many years I walk through the door before the lights are on and I just sit there in the middle of the store looking around with a dumb smile on my face and say “This is all yours. Don’t screw it up”.

So I won’t.

As I see it, I have two options in front of me right now. One is selling the store to someone else with everything in it. This includes my vast Magic the Gathering card collection, inventory, logo, marketing package, branding rights, tournament infrastructure and much more. Hell, I’ll even throw in a few months of free counseling regarding each and every step of the day to day processes. If you ever wanted to own a game store, here’s your chance 🙂 I don’t see the point of purely selling everything and closing. It doesn’t serve the greater good, which is giving the Ingolstadt community a place to play and feel free to express their nerdy side without having some plebs who wear sunglasses in nightclubs show up and act like goons. I am aware that it has been a constant uphill battle with establishing a bustling community with a heavy emphasis on event attendance. It’s going to still be a thing in the future perhaps, but I won’t be there to screw it up with my imperfect German and my go fuck yourself attitude that I sometimes seem to not be able to shake off. However, the following quote is something I stand by in life: “It’s better the be hated for who you are than loved for who you’re not”. And no matter how good and awesome we think we are, we’re always going to be the villain in someone else’s story. There’s no pleasing everyone. It’s a myth we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better maybe, or we’re disillusioned into actually believing it, condemned to live a life of trying to please everyone like the Greek king Sisyphus having to push a boulder up a hill only to see it roll down over and over again.

The second option is the one I am leaning towards. I would like to continue owning the Arena but without me being there so often and managing it from afar. Perhaps I’ll drop by from time to time to play in a draft 🙂 But realistically it would just be for the coming months as I plan on moving out of Germany within a year or so. Right now there are two people I have in mind who would work for me on a weekly basis, perhaps even Mondays if things turn out how they want them. Most of you probably know them: it’s Sebastian and Markus. Regarding Sebastian, you have probably already had enough chats with him about single cards and such for a while now. Markus is new in terms of being part of the team, so be nice to him 🙂 I plan on trying my damn hardest to get the Arena to even higher places until I am happy with how it is. That requires me to invest considerably more into it. I learned from the last store that was in Ingolstadt that if you don’t invest into a strong foundation everything will crumble down very fast. Ghosthouse was amazing, but it never had a chance to move forward with how it looked and how little it wanted to change. There isn’t much one can do when there are other pressing issues and the shop is not a top list priority. The Arena has been my life for the past 4 years at least. I have dedicated an immense amount of time into it. There are too many nights to count when I was working there until 3 am, late enough to catch my last bus at 3:15 am from ZOB. Yeah, you see me having a drink or two and people leaving with me just staying there alone. Did you ever wonder why things did get done even though I was the only one working at the store for 4 years? The Arena stands tall after all this time even stronger than before. Perhaps those nights weren’t a waste after all and now I finally reached a financially stable level that I can let go of some of the responsibility and give the opportunity to enjoy a chill job like mine to two amazing guys.

So this entire article is actually my goodbye to you all although it won’t happen so soon. I feel like I need to move on with my life and find myself again in this big, scary and awesome world we live in. A friend of mine told me that I don’t owe Ingolstadt anything…Maybe I don’t, but I want to 🙂

See you in the Arena!

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