My journey began on Monday the 2nd of July at about 7:20. My Mother took me to Rettenbach am Auerberg, a little village between Schongau and Marktoberdorf. Although everyone had warned me, it would be a very small place with nothing going on -just like Höhenrain (where I´m from) – I was very surprised how innovative this small backwater really is. According to its website, Rettenbach is the solar village of Germany and an area of recreation. Furthermore and most decisively, Rettenbach has its own currency; the presence of a supermarket, a bakery, a café and a shop for regional products intensified my impression of this place to be more than “just like Höhenrain”. I mean I even had internet access!
After my arrival in Rettenbach I left my suitcase in the `Gasthaus Maria´, -my bed and breakfast for the next three weeks- and went over to the action area of the village. To be more precise, I visited the Kugelmann Maschinenbau e.K.. Firstly, I enjoyed a short guidance through the production halls, afterwards we stopped at the office of the engineers who I would join for the first week.
During the day I acquaint myself to SolidWorks- a CAD-program (computer-aided-design-program)- supervised by the head-engineer. I had time to discover the main features of the program before I started my first exercise. I chose to design my own bottle opener, which sounds much easier then it finally was. However, I finished inventing on Tuesday. The next step was testing their website for easiness of handling, especially for laymen, while I ordered my designed work in their internet shop.
Furthermore, I converted material spare parts into the computer program, so they had all pieces to put a virtual actuator and other constructions together. Beside these I also did some other smaller jobs and spent time on the improvement of my bottle opener, its second and third edition was released in the following days, joined by a key pendant containing the logo of my father`s company. On Thursday afternoon I accompanied Barbara Kugelmann to her aerobic training and she invited me to lunch the following day.
On Friday I started to work in the assemblage hall. But only for one day because the actuator production was delayed. I got pretty much to eat for lunch and after work I was asked to join the Kugelmann family on one of the daughter`s 19th birthday family-party with coffee and cake. Until half past five I attended a chaotic, but really funny conversation, though my participation was limited by the linguistic barrier (strong dialect), then I travelled back home to spent my weekend ill at home.
When I came back to Kugelmann company the second week, I knew that I would get to know the apprentices´ training shop and learn basic skills of metal working in the forthcoming five days. Furthermore, Barbara offered me to have lunch with her and her family for the following two weeks, because she was probably worried about my food provisions. This impression was most likely the result of my “just-passed-a-famine” image which stuck in her brain since last Friday`s lunch.
However, a full, but achievable timetable was waiting for me to be realized. Firstly, on Monday, I warped a wire and soldered up all the ends. As a result of my work I had produced a quiz. Its challenge is to separate one wire mesh into two pieces without breaking the morphology or the wire. After this kind of warming up, I was taught how to do basic jobs of metal working like drilling, tapping, dressing, … . In addition, (from Tuesday to Wednesday) I was working on a rose made of out-cut and warped copper leaves and different pieces of wire. When I had finished, it was already Wednesday afternoon and we went on working with a screw machine, so after work on Thursday I could be proud of my manufactured plumb bob and my cord-shaped grasp. Wednesday was also the day my health felt regenerated and this offered me the opportunity to take part in the zumba lesson which took place in a communal hall in Rettenbach. When I arrived there about five curious faces observed me like an alien, after five minutes about twenty faces and after additional five minutes about sixty, this means 120 eyes and the amount was still increasing. When the lesson was supposed to start it seemed like the whole female citizenship of Rettenbach had assembled in the small crowded hall. Even the older women had come to participate, though it wasn`t possible for them to jump around and imitate the coach`s movements : It`s taking part that counts!
Again, this Thursday was spent in the nearby village`s gymnasium having a lot of fun at the aerobic lesson.
On the last day we -I and my supervising teacher- impulsively decided to check and improve my smithery skills. It finally resulted in two more kilos for me to carry home, but this didn`t mean the end of my educational week. The real finish was me sitting in the world-cup-winning car of Michael Schumacher and in a 24-hour-contest bike, which had already been the most important part of a world-record-trial and which has already been ridden in several international competitions.
At the first two days of the third and last week in Allgäu, I realized that Kugelmann company feels like having the duty to show me the real working routine and so I spent Monday and Tuesday with monotonous work. That means, I had to run a screw, after that a milling machine for the whole two days. If you`ve done such a work for several hours and imagined to do so your whole life, you finally understand why everyone wants you to go to school. But I also have to admit that even if it`s very boring at the beginning after about four hours you just do the job without thinking whether you like it or not. As a result of losing all emotions about the actual situation you don`t feel unsatisfied and underemployed any more. Despite that, I`m convinced there are jobs I would prefer.
On my last Wednesday I designed another key pendant, this time it was by order of a political party operating in Berg. One of the leading members had seen the key pendant I`d made for my father`s company and asked me enthusiastically if I could design one for his party, too, and I agreed. At that day my work already ended at half past three, because then Barbara Kugelmann, her friend, her friend`s daughter and I set off for a hike on mount Auerberg. After our trip we visited a friend of Barbara who collects coins and jewellery of the past. Some of his discoveries are reaching back to the roman and celtic colonization and every piece has its own story.
On Thursday I was only supposed to work until eleven o`clock, then I went to Barbara`s house and her son Philipp and I made our way to the Maria Hilf Brewery -about one hour from Rettenbach-. There we were offered an exclusive guidance (only for the both of us) around the small factory`s brewery which produces about 10 000 liters of beer a week. All in all the factory contains a beer brewery, a distillery of spirits, a bottling sector and a restaurant, but visiting everything would have taken too much time and so we focused on the main sector. We were explained the main processes of brewing while standing next to the great bowls and pools were everything explained was just happening. After several very interesting hours we drove back home again. We arrived at four o`clock and none of us had to work any more on that day, so Philipp decided to teach me how to ride a trial -that`s a special kind of motorbike. After a successful training session we dared to drive bigger vehicles starting with a Holder (small tractor) and finally we developed to the maximum, the improvement of a Fendt tractor specialized on the confrontation with unexploded bombs produced by order of the German armed force. A dignified ending of three great weeks in Rettenbach am Auerberg.