Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mr. Table and Other Cultural Eccentricities

So it goes like this... Settling into about our third week in our house, Veterans Day, about 10.00AM, and Fiona and I are enjoying a lazy morning, no work and a second cup of coffee. We make the rookie mistake of opening the front window shutters which--I now know means--we are open for visitors. So anyway, about mid-sip the doorbell rings and I panic, knowing it must be our neighbor/landlord. He has probably been up for 6 hours, raked the yard, swept the driveway and changed the filter in his furnace. As I start swinging the door open, I become suddenly aware I have bed-head, a three day growth of beard, and I am still in my Homer Simpson pajamas.

I decide to play it off like normal, use all the German I know in the first few sentences, and he will be so impresed with what I learned so quick, he will never even notice I am still in my pajamas. My conversation with Mr Haussler went something like this;

Open door, imediately forget all 12 German words I know as he eyes me wearily from fuzzy slippers to hair--at least he didn't look at his watch;

Zev: "Guten Morgen Mr. Tisch, Wie Gehts?" (Translation: "Good Morning Mr. Table, How are you?")

Landlord (probably wondering why his new tenant was at home on a work day, still in his pajamas with cartoons at 10:00 in the morning and calling him a piece of furniture): "Ah yes, good morning Herr York. I just came over to see how you are doing and to drop off instructions on the recycling procedure here in the neighborhood......You have recycled before, right?"

Zev: "Oh yes of course."

Landlord: "So you know what to put in the Blue bin, the Grey bin and the Yellow sack"?

Zev: "Ah..well we're not sure exactly what goes into this Yellow sack"

(At this point the landlord walks over to our Yellow sack and starts pulling stuff out like empty yoghurt containers or empty aluminium cans and shows us exactly what does and doesn't get recycled and then says):

Landlord: "Don't you recycle in America?"

Note: Google "Recycling a teabag in Germany" for some interesting nuggets on the recycling protocol in the land that gave the world Mercedes Benz and precision engineering.....

Then we talked about the various gouges in the starway wall and foyer corner from the movers. At least only one tore the wallpaper. Did I mention he is a painter and he and his son spent three days before we moved in painting every square inch on the inside of our our house from top to bottom? Did I mention he has eagle eyes and can see a finish flaw from 20 meters?

So once again I am backed into a corner. I figure now is the time to tell him about the chunk of w0od missing from the main door frame right about eye level. Freshly panted too and--I am pretty sure--mahogany.

Zev : "About the front door.."

Before I get much further, Mr Table says : "Yes, I know...what do you expect with so much stuff coming into the house?"

So, it kind of went downhill from there. Well, not too bad. The landlord and his Frau are actually very wonderful people and have really tried to take care of us. We are very fortunate they are so understanding as the "auslanders" move into their freshly-remodeled, someday-to-be retirement house. Boy, I sure hope I don't back into his Mercedes one of these pre-coffee, blurry eyed mornings.

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