Noilly Prattle: mein Gott!

Friday, January 18, 2013

mein Gott!

The Scheiße hits the fan.

     I think I'm going through something like a perfect storm here. This little expedition to Berlin has been beset with incidents to make a mockery of one's calm, equanimity and serenity. Let alone the carefree holiday spirit you like to think of when you are trying to get away from it all, but “it all” seems to be dogging your heels...or, in my case, my little toe. Let me explain.

     A nagging sense of disquiet has been hanging somewhere in the left parietal region of my brain (near as I can pinpoint it) since a train snafu occurred in Frankfurt when our scheduled ICE train was cancelled for some unspecified reason (which reason may have been specified in German). I discussed this incident in a previous post [the trains don't run on time] and won't linger on it here. But the incident seemed to set a tone...that this was not going to be a carefree getaway.

     We finally arrived at our rental apartment only to meet with a cleaning lady who spoke no English although the website claimed that they spoke English. Since this rental agency is based in the United Kingdom we assumed that English wouldn't be a problem. Uh-uh! We were met by Natalia, and it became quickly apparent that we had a serious communication problem trying to settle the basics of moving into a new short-term apartment: using the stove, dishwasher, where to throw the trash, etc.

      Natalia quickly began to show signs of losing patience and becoming frustrated exclaiming things like "mein Gott!", and what sounded like “never mind, it doesn't matter where the trash goes or how the washing machine works. Figure it out for yourself!” With our persistence (and her and our increasing frustration) she agreed to take road buddy out to show her where to throw the trash, putting her hand on my chest to indicate that I was not welcome to accompany them and I should stay put. Road buddy reports that she kept repeating "mein Gott!" in the elevator.

      Finally, we had enough information to figure out how the place works. Natalia then said: "Geld!" Road buddy knows enough German to know that “Geld” means money. So, with more language discombobulation we finally settled the rental terms and the return of the key deposit on leaving at the end of the month. She also mentioned that “meine Tochter” speaks English, indicating, I think, that if any future issues should arise she would come with her “English speaking” daughter.

      A "future issue" did, in fact, arise. Some of the light bulbs in the apartment blew out. I emailed Yuri, the owner whom I have never met but who can manage English at least in written form, and asked him to have the light bulbs replaced. He sent us our Natalia and her Tochter. We had just started eating before going out to an opera when the intercom buzzed. In blew Natalia and her daughter who did manage to speak some broken English, enough, with body language and facial expression, to indicate rudeness and disdain. They seemed put out at having been required to come and check out the light bulb situation and didn't seem to think it was such a big deal issue. (The apartment was getting pretty dim, as a matter of fact, due to heavy clouds and a northern exposure.) They finally said they would bring some light bulbs that I could then install. I pointed to myself and with raised eyebrow, said: “You want me, a paying guest, to install them?” At which point, the daughter, rudely smacked her own head and said in no unmistakeable sneer: “mein Gott! No problem!”, and both she and Natalia huffed out of the apartment.

       We emailed Yuri and explained the situation. He was apologetic and said he would take care of the problem by sending his handyman to change the light bulbs. He is supposed to come tomorrow, Saturday. We shall see.


      The German expletive mein Gott! (which, if you haven't guessed, means Oh my God!) reminds me of one of the graffiti paintings on the East Side Gallery remnant of the Berlin Wall. The picture, by Dimitri Vrubel, depicts Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker in a fraternal embrace on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1979. The caption at the bottom of the painting reads: My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love

PS 2:

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the little toe. I stubbed it on the sofa in the living room and it started to hurt like hell. I thought it might be broken. It turned an ugly black and blue and was swollen. If you look closely at me in the picture you will notice that I don't look particularly happy. That was a couple days ago and I was in some pain and discomfort from hobbling along on the bum foot. I'm happy to say that it is looking and feeling much better today and doesn't appear to be broken, just badly bruised. But nothing interferes more with travel than limited mobility. Take it from a  veteran traveler! It's as good as gospel.


Anonymous said...

OY VEY…here are some euphemisms that might help…
1) turn the page
2) this too shall pass

Bummer. Nothing like someone raining on your parade to add to the gloom. Mein Gott…not a friendly people, eh?

Love that photo. Brezhnev would turn over in his grave.

Carry on…with lightness.

oxox R

Noilly Prattle said...

Oy vey about sums it up.

These unfriendly people are, I think, Russians, not Germans. The owner's name is Yuri Smolyanski and his cohort's name is Natalia, both Yuri and Natalia are Russian sounding names.

Not to worry, the sense of humor remains firmly intact...and the toe is on the mend as well.