A lifetime ago, I was referred to a few times as a control freak. If control freak means the desire to know how things work and understanding the fine print, then I guess I was guilty.
Well, flash forward to life in Germany. Everything has it's own system of working (not always designed with logic contrary to myth of German efficiency) and is in another language. Surprisingly, I've gotten by all right (which to me confirms the fact that I wasn't a control freak to begin with!) There have been a zillion hitches for sure, but I usually end up completing whatever task it is I have to do even if it involves charades and blank looks.
As a woman, there are few tasks more overwhelming than taking your car to the mechanic. It's a task I've always dreaded. I feel like the mechanics see a woman assume a lack of mechanical knowledge and see dollar signs. Well, a few weeks ago, my little Golf binged and demanded service and so I had to take on this dreaded task. And in German.
Step one, make an appointment. easy enough, even in German. In 15 months, my German skills have advanced so that I can make appointments in Germany (mostly due to the fact that I've had to see a doctor more times than I care to remember for being sick so often, but I digress) I went up to the counter, asked for an appointment and was surprised when they couldn't tell me when my appointment would be. You see, the guy at the counter only takes my name, registration papers, and phone number. The mechanic calls me back, tells me what I need (I initially thought thru phsychic powers, but just by the km's on the car it turns out) and gives me an appointment.
Step two, drop car off. easy enough, even in German. Give them my key, figure out pick up time and we're set!
Now, my German skills are quite advanced for the length of time I've been here, I still hate talking on the phone. So when the mechanical called me talking a hundred miles an hour with the background noise of an auto shop, I had no choice but to panic. I wasn't understanding a word. and at least in person, you get the benefit of charades. Not an option on the phone. After a whole bunch of times of "langsammer, bitte" (slower, please) and "ich verstehe nicht" (I don't understand) we somehow came to the conclusion my car was finished.
When I got to the shop, they took me over to my car and pointed to parts of a roof rack on a trolley next to my car. what the ??? They were asking me if they were mean to install the "dachbox" (roof rack) now, I have NO idea if they were asking me if the roof rack was mine. How did we end up here? This, I have no idea. Maybe when I thought I was being awesome at small talk in German and telling them I didn't need my summer tires on just yet because I was going to Austria this weekend, they thought that my Austria trip would be better with a roof rack? So confusing. Just when I thought I could get by with some basic tasks, I almost end up with a roof rack. No control freak would be ok with that. ;)