Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh Germany!

I'm not entirely sure what the caption is, but in my world, the right is the "before" Deutsche Bahn experience and the left is the "after"

My mom has been visiting for the past couple of weeks and I have been more than insanely busy taking her on a whirlwind tour of Europe. Even though she was born in Belgium, she’s never been to Europe before. Since it’s taken her 60 years to get back to the continent she was born on, I thought it only proper to show her a good time. So far, we’ve been to Paris and Austria (more on that when I'm not deleriously exhausted). Christmas weekend is Prague. I’m exhausted, but it’s for a good cause.

Knowing the issues that I’ve had so far, my mom is sympathetic, but sees Germany thru the eyes of a tourist. She sees the clean streets, the recycling and the on time trains. I think a lot of the times she thinks I exaggerate how cumbersome life can be here. Of course, if there are no problems, there is no cumbersome-ness. Lucky for me, I walk into all sorts of problems.

Take for instance, my first work trip. I work for a global company and had to go to Asia last July. My itinerary involved a train to Frankfurt then flights to Asia. When I checked over my itinerary the day before I left, I thought that the train times looked off. After all, I suspected it would take more than an hour for the train to travel the 400km to Frankfurt. When I called the travel agent to verify the train times, they told me “oh, the train times are ficticious, it’s up to you to check the actual times” Cool! Thankfully I called, because this info was not going to be volunteered otherwise.

For my return trip, there was a change in flights, because of that, I needed a new train ticket number. When I got to Frankfurt and tried the number, it didn’t work. I went to the office and no one could figure it out. They told me to get on the train and the ticket checker would let me know if there was an issue. Because it’s me and I have the best German luck, there was an issue. No one could find that a ticket was ever issued to me. They took down my info and said they’d write a letter if they could find the ticket. Again, because of my luck, they couldn’t find said ticket.

For the past 5 months, I’ve been communicating with the travel agent and forwarding all of the lovely Deutsche Bahn letters which I don’t understand. Today, the travel agent called me in a panic saying that Deutsche Bahn was a week away from launching legal action. Against me. For lack of ticket. WHAT THE (*)@(*()&*(&*()@_)@?????? I (calmly) stated my case to the travel agent telling them that this was their problem, and not mine. The ticket had already been paid and I was following their instructions. She wasn’t buying it so I had to step up my bitch. I’m starting to learn that stepping up the bitch is the only way to getting anywhere here when there’s a problem. I generally try to pull the calm, sane card, but it gets me nowhere here.

I’m not complaining, but this country is bringing the cynic me to the forefront. At this stage, I’m starting to look at each new problem as a challenge on how quickly I can get it solved. So far, I’m not doing very good. Dining Room chairs? 2 months. Plumbing? 3 months. Train ticket? 5 months and counting.

My mom constantly reminds me that no place is perfect or without it's problems and I get that.  I really do. And I get that there can be mixups like this anywhere in the world.  And to be fair, all of these things might be my karma for killing one too many flies or having a smooth(ish) life for a couple of years. I just don't get how an arduous business trip lands me on the verge of being a German criminal?????