Firstly, I feel as if I should explain the title of my last blog post, Moin Moin, Willkommen in Hamburg! ‘Moin‘ is a common North German greeting, which as far as I can tell isn’t confined just to the morning, despite being derived from ‘Guten Morgen’, I think. My mentor teacher at the college I’m working at explained that North Germans are somewhat famous for keeping conversations, and thus words, as short as possible. I’ve definitely noticed this; I miss small talk dearly. I do also kind of miss feigning interest in the weather or an ‘unusual’ item of clothing someone might be wearing, just to fill a silence. You might think that the benefit of this would be that awkward silences don’t really exist. Oh but they do, dear Reader, they do.
One of the most pronounced awkward silences I’ve had so far was in a launderette last week. Yes, launderette. (My flat is cheap for a reason.) I had just about finished doing what I needed to and was strangely proud of managing to work the industrial-sized washing machines, when a man engaged me in conversation, which took the following form:
Man: [casually, far too casually] ‘Haben Sie ein Auto?’ ‘Do you have a car?’
Me: [surprised, due to what I thought was the rare initiation of small talk] ‘Ne, ich bin mit dem Bus hingefahren.’ ‘Nope, I came here by bus.’
Man: [henceforth known as creepy man] ‘Ok, weil, wenn Sie möchten, können Sie gerne mit mir in meinem Auto kommen, und vielleicht ein bisschen Spaß haben.’ ‘Ok, because if you’d like to, you’re welcome to come with me in my car and maybe we can have some fun.’
I hope you’re all assuming that I politely declined the kind offer, generous as it was. I said no thanks and an awkward silence, for me, anyway, ensued until I’d finished packing up my stuff. But it didn’t end there, dear Reader. No no. I was at the bus stop and he drove up to it, stopped, and waved at me to get in the car. Amongst puzzled looks from others also waiting I forced a smile, died a little inside, and called, ‘Nein, danke!’ Thankfully he drove off.
Awkwardness has also extended to some of the tea habits I’ve come across. I think we all knew that the tea situation was going to be difficult while abroad, but in some ways it’s worse than anticipated. On my first day in school my mentor took me to the cafeteria and bought me a cup of tea, and we sat and had a lovely chat for a little bit.
Oh wait, did I say cup of tea, like, made out of china or something with, like, a handle and stuff? What I actually meant was tea in a hexagonal pint glass, which I had to precariously carry right at the rim, so as not to be scalded. But it got worse (hard to believe, I know). We went to sit down, and as I was walking to the table a little bit of panic rose in my mind, ‘but I haven’t taken out the tea bag yet!’ And neither had my mentor. As usual when I have no idea what’s going on I try to work it out from what everyone else does. So I watched with curiosity as he laid out a napkin on the table and plonked the tea bag down on to that.
Why can I never copy people successfully?
There were no spoons to be seen so I had to use one of those ridiculously thin and flimsy wooden stirrer things to try and fish out the tea bag. Those should not have made it in to the 21st Century, and are a frequent source of hot-beverage-related-rage on my part. So having already splashed precious tea around my pint glass due to failed angling attempts (Lord knows what my mentor thinks of me), I finally managed to balance the tea bag on the end of this stick and put it down on the napkin. As you can imagine it soaked the entire thing and the table underneath. Trying to mop up the sogginess with the culprit (the equally soggy napkin) was fairly ineffective.
This is one thing I like about having my own flat- tea etiquette isn’t a problem. My flat brings me on to my final point of this post (almost done, promise): noisy neighbours.
The neighbour I have had the most to do with (and that’s really not saying much) left a German ELLE magazine for me when I moved in (don’t worry, he lived in my flat before me, he didn’t break in). I could see from the big sticker on the front that it had been taken from a Deutsche Bahn lounge, but despite this small instance of theft I was quite touched that he had thought to leave something for me. I was less touched (both figuratively and literally. Again, don’t worry), however, when I was in my kitchen at about 8pm last night and discovered his simultaneous penchant for flute music and loud sex. Yep.
If we’re Twitter buds you’ll have seen that I fled the flat. I came back about half an hour later and it was still going on, so the only way to deal with that was to whack on some loud music and pretend that I couldn’t hear anything. It didn’t work. I always think that sort of thing is worse when you know the person; if it were an anonymous noise then it would be fine(ish). But no, it was just like being back at Uni again, but the less said about that, the better.
So, I’m going to leave you on that second tasteful bombshell. (I’m doing quite well with these- concluding with Eiffel Tower dildos in my last post to this great one here.) It’s off to the launderette again. I might take some headphones, they usually scream DO NOT TALK TO/PROPOSITION ME. Hopefully I won’t have any more material from this week’s visit.
eure Charlotte xxx