(I’m naming this chapter: “No such luck”)
I was ready and my stomach was too. I went to the kitchen and like before I asked the cook if he had any dirty uniforms to wash. I wasn’t working tomorrow because it was New Years Day and had plenty of time for a laundry job. He said yes and gave me one. I grabbed the uniform and walked back up to my barracks. It was already late so I knew I couldn’t do anything with it that day.
The following day I was the first like usual to wake up about six in the morning, breakfast was at seven. The mess hall where we ate was empty by nine o’clock. I was ready to put the uniform on myself, I looked a little strange in it because I was six feet tall and the head cook was a shorter man. It didn’t really matter anyway, we didn’t walk around in fitted clothes. Short jacket sleeves and pant legs wouldn’t be noticed.
Like most of the time, things never went as smooth as I planned. To find a basket was easy enough, I just had to go behind the kitchen and get it; only the weather didn’t want to co-operate with me. It wasn’t as cold as usual. The camp grounds on cold days were without a soul, but on that day a few prisoners were hanging around here and there. Oh hell, I said to myself who will pay any attention to me; I was wrong they did. As I walked closer and closer to the pile, I tried to act in a very “natural” way for when the guard was watching me from the guard-house. He must not notice any unusual behavior, I repeated in my head and I tried to act just like that. Inside of me the nervousness felt like a bomb about to explode. Anyway I was by the gate, opened it and was inside my “dream paradise” surrounded by barbwire. As I started to shovel the potatoes into the basket the noise sounded like dried walnuts. When I finished I lifted the basket up on my shoulder and walked out with it towards the mess hall.
The only access to the kitchen was from the mess hall. The guard needed to believe I was a cook carrying potatoes to the kitchen, if he was watching me. Every barrack, including the mess hall had double sets of entry doors. The first door led to a kind of small entrance hall and through the entrance hall was the second door to enter. This type of building practice was widely used in extremely cold climates for insulation.
It wasn’t in my plan to go directly inside the mess hall, just inside the entrance hall. Not knowing somebody else was just as hungry as me, the minute I opened the door “helpful” hands were reaching into the basket. Before I even realized it, almost all my potatoes had disappeared in other hands and other pockets. I really had to fight to save enough to fill up my belly. When the thing was over, everyone left and I was standing there with a few potatoes in the basket and a few scattered on the floor.
I picked them up and went back to my room, my old friend was there so I baked the “loot” and we ate them.
The following days went by without any excitement and the usual hunger. I cleaned and returned the white uniform and received from the head cook a life supporting piece of bread.