Hans Epp is a man whose existence seems cursed, who lives in a state of anticipatory despair. After ill-fated stints in the French Foreign Legion and the police force, he's reduced to pushing a barrow through 1950s Munich, selling fruit and vegetables. His lowly social station costs him the woman he loves and furthers the contempt his family already has for him. Life temporarily looks up, ironically, after Hans nearly dies of a heart attack and a change of fortune in the business. However, Hans begins a slow slide into depression as his friend and employee, Harry, gradually begins to usurp Hans' place in his household, leaving Hans with nothing but time to think.