Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Mailman thinks I speak only French

Adam and I are committed to spending as little as possible on household items as we will be leaving Germany at some point over the next year, and it seams silly to spend a lot on things that you will just have to get rid of. Up until this point, we have managed to get almost everything we need from kind donations from our friends, the street outside, and the German equivalent to the dollar store.

There are a few things, however, that we simply have to have immediately which we ordered from One of these things is sheets to cover the windows so that our neighbors can't see what we are doing every second of every day.

Thus far, I have manged to get by using the following words, "hallo" (hello), "Danke" (thank you), and "Chose" (bye). If anyone starts to talk to me in German, I simply nod and try to run away as quickly as possible.

Today, while Adam was conveniently working at a coffee shop, I got a call on our "front door" phone.

"Hallo" I answered confidently.

"Blah blah blah blah lots of German that I don't understand blah blah blah"

"ein moment" I replied as I hung up (this theoretically translates to "one moment" although my accent is so atrocious that I don't even think it could qualify as that).

I walked downstairs (carrying Ilya) and saw the mailman waiting for me with our package of sheets in hand.

"hallo" I tried again.

"blah blah blah German blah blah blah" he hands me the signature pad. No problem he obviously wants me to sign for the package. I can do that. I do. I reach for the package. He pulls it away from me and scrutinizes my signature.

"blah blah German blah blah blah..."

I smile uncertainly and prepare myself to say the one sentence I've memorized, "Ich spreken kien Dutch" (I don't speak German). He looked at me as if I were speaking martian. Obviously my carefully memorized sentence does not have the right accents.

"blah blah German Blah blah..."

At this point, I went into frantic mode and started saying everything that I could think of to get him to understand that I don't speak German (which, thinking back on the event, was probably painfully obvious). Unfortunately, when I am trying to say something in German and I can't think of the words, I substitute French words instead. Is that weird?

"Je ne parle pas Dutch. Je parle un ptite Francaise" (I don't speak German. I speak a little French). He literally did a double take in my direction with a look of surprise on his face.


"Francais" I responded - we were communicating! What we were communicating was far less important than the very fact that we were indeed communicating!

"Ah," he looked relieved, as if me being French explained everything. "blah blah blah. Francise blah blah." It dawned on me that he thought I was French! He handed me the package.

I took it and ran.

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