The past few days I’ve been forcing myself to speak as little English in public as possible. I do this because I am a masochist and get huge amounts of pleasure from embarrassing myself and perpetuating the stereotype that Americans know absolutely nothing about anything, most especially when it comes to languages that are not English. My German crutches so far have been “Yes, please,” “No, thank you,” and “I only speak a little German.” Here is what has happened so far:
- I tried to order a currywurst without skin and the server said they only make it with skin. I politely told him, “No, thanks!” and he got angry.
- A man delivered a package to the apartment today and I think asked if I would hold it for one of my neighbors. I politely told him, “No, thanks!” and he got angry.
- Another man came looking for a package that was supposed to have been left at my apartment. I told him I didn’t have it, and he looked confused.
- A lady at the Platform 17 Memorial either asked me if I was from Holland or if I like Hollandaise sauce. I replied in my most Southern drawl, “No, I’m an American!” and the lady looked confused.
- I ordered a hamburger from a Turkish food stand and got a doner kebab box instead, which turned out to be much more delicious than whatever it was I thought I wanted to eat.
As you can see, I’m acclimating really well to my new surroundings and fitting in just fine.
Except, that is, when it comes to operating the high-fallutin’ fancypants household machinery that is the German washing machine. I’ve attempted to overtake this formidable opponent by shoving three socks, one pair of pants, and bra into the smaller-than-my-head compartment, pouring four times too much detergent into God-knows-which-hole, cranking protesting dials into scraping submission, and then pushing buttons in various code-cracking sequences until the machine finally and desperately roars to life.
That all happened almost two hours ago, and here are the onomatopoeic renderings of what the machine has shouted to me from across the apartment since then:
- Weh ew weh ew weh ew weh ew.
And now I don’t hear anything. I just hope that in my ignoring all the German instructions on the outside of the contraption, I didn’t mistake my subletter’s personal spaceship for a washing machine. If that happened, I guess some space beings will get to enjoy the sparse wardrobe I just sent to them.