Thursday, November 17, 2011

German Appliance Repair: Lesson 1

We have now been in our home for almost a week. Internet is scheduled to be installed next Monday and our oil will be delivered Tuesday. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping everything goes smoothly but it seems like all of these tasks are accompanied by unexpected complications.

Our washer and dryer arrived two days ago. The men who brought them told me that the piping for the water was incorrect and I would need to call the landlord. Arndt said he would have a plumber look at the piping Wednesday (yesterday). The morning came and went. At 11:30 the doorbell rang and I was surprised to see Arndt waiting. I opened the door and he informed me that the plumber was busy so he would take a look at the dishwasher. I didn't bother correcting him and saying, "I think you mean the washer" since he pointed down toward the basement instead of the kitchen.

We headed downstairs and Arndt asked me to explain what I was told about the pipes. I tried my best but speaking about plumbing hardware is not exactly my forte. As soon as Arndt saw the piping he exclaimed, "Who did this like this!"
"I don't know," I replied.
Looking directly at me, he asked, "But who did this?"
I quickly glanced behind me, thinking surely there must be someone else in the room. "I have no idea... we have only lived here five days."

He assumed the position of The Thinker (standing upright) and muttered, "I have never seen something like this. Why do someone do something like this?"
Gently, I said, "The person who delivered told me that the former tenants might have had an American washer. So would that explain the piping?"
Arndt's eyes suddenly brightened. "Yes... YES!! That is the reason why! Okay! So how do we fix?"

Again, I was dumbfounded. Obviously if I knew how to correct the problem I would have done it myself. We both stared at the pipes along the wall for a few minutes. Every 20 or 30 seconds, Arndt would tug one of the pipes and say, "Hmmm..." Finally he exclaimed, "Bring a screwdriver to me!"

I retrieved a toolkit and he found the correct screwdriver. He disconnected one pipe and then stuck another down a tube. He told me to turn on the machine so we could test it. We both stood back and watched as the water sloshed around inside. After a minute, Arndt declared the repair a success and as he walked back upstairs to leave he said, "Just be careful when it rains a lot."

I still don't know what he meant by that but it isn't raining so I've been washing clothes.

Things with the house are improving but it will take some more time before it begins to feel like a home.

As soon as we are officially settled, I'm going to really buckle down and learn German. I have aspirations to be completely fluent but I'll take it one lesson at a time. It will be helpful to order confidently in a restaurant, exchange pleasantries with others, and understand grocery store lingo.

My husband has learned how to say goodbye in German. It's actually very funny. Since that is one of the only things he can say with assuredness, he makes a point to say it at the end of every interaction. At the grocery store, he always says farewell to the cashier, even if she is already scanning the next customer's items. "Tschus!" (sounds like Schooosss)

At a restaurant, he always tells the waiter and any other staff we see upon exit, "Tschus! Tschus!"

If we are buying bread at the bakery, he waits until the opportune moment to tell the baker, "Tschus!!!!!!!!"

After each of these interactions he will turn to me and say, "See babe? You just have to learn the language! It makes things so much easier."

With the benefit of these tutorials, I will certainly know German in no time. Or at least how to say goodbye if I need to end an awkward conversation.

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