Craig’s last quandary was such an unexpected hit, so I think it’s time for another.
In the two short trips I’ve taken with Craig to Germany, he’s had some, let’s say, difficulties getting the locals to understand his broken German. The first occasion was when we arrived to Germany for the first time. After landing at the Munich Airport, the customs officer took our passports and boarding passes and asked where we were headed. Craig made several attempts to say “Leipzig,” but the man got so frustrated trying to understand that he ended up looking it up in the book instead (the Leipzig airport is very small and is not a common destination for international travelers). He then grunted at us, “LIE-pzig not LEE-pzig.” Though, I was sure we had said it properly. The second occasion was when we were asking the hotel receptionist for directions to a specific location in the city. The woman spoke clear English, but the location name was in German. Craig said the name 4 or 5 times with slightly different variations, but she still wasn’t getting it. I stepped in and said it once in my best German accent, and she got it right away. (Craig wasn’t too pleased with that situation.)
So fast forward to Craig’s very first business trip to Leipzig with his new (American) boss who was showing him the ropes. At the end of a long day, they went out to dinner to relax and discuss the position. Being new to the job, Craig was doing his best to make a good impression with his boss. Before they were able to order, Craig’s boss got a phone call and asked Craig to order him wiener schnitzel and a tomato soup while he was taking the call. Craig obliged.
After practicing the order in German in his head several times, Craig was prepared when the waiter came by and gave his best, “Zwei Tommatensuppe, eins Wiener Schnitzel, und eins Rindersteak bitte.” (2 tomato soups, 1 wiener schnitzel, and 1 steak). Feeling like he was finally understood, Craig was proud of himself for giving the order in German. A few minutes later, just before his boss returned, the appetizers came out: 1 tomato soup and 1 bruschetta. Not wanting to make a fuss in front of his boss, Craig gave him the soup and proceeded to eat the bruschetta as if he had meant to order it. (Mind you, Craig is not particularly fond of raw tomatoes.) The server then came back with the main course: Craig’s steak, but no wiener schnitzel. It wasn’t so easy to play this off as what he meant to order, so Craig flagged down the waiter to ask about the wiener schnitzel. The waiter gave him a strange look (clearly he didn’t understand the original order), but half-heartedly apologized and requested the rest of the order from the kitchen. Ten minutes later, the wiener schnitzel arrived and they were able to enjoy the rest of their meal. To say the least, Craig felt a little embarrassed about the whole misunderstanding. Clearly, someone needs to work on his German pronunciation!