The parking catastrophe

If there’s one thing about Leipzig that annoys my dear husband Craig, it is the constant battle with parking. Leipzigers seem to park anywhere they please, without regard for others. I surmise that this is because parking tickets are so cheap, so the people risk the fees and angering other residence to park their cars in a place that is convenient only to them.

I’m taking about cars parked on sidewalks, cars parked in Craig’s assigned spot in the lot, but worst of all – the one that gets Craig’s blood boiling – cars parked in front of our entrance gate.

Recently, as Craig was coming back from hockey practice, a car was yet again parked in front of our entrance. Despite there being a sign stating no parking, this seems to happen about once or twice per week. It was late, and Craig was tired and angry.

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There’s no possible way in!

Sign

How could it be more clear??? Translation: Keep clear, exit used day and night.

So Craig sat in his car, outside the entrance, and did what anyone would do in this situation and called the cops…the German-speaking cops.

Craig looked up the phone number for non-emergencies and gave them a call. The conversation went something like this:

Craig: “Hallo. Ich habe ein Problem. Jemand hat in meinem Parkplatz geparkt.” (Hello, I have a problem. Someone has parked in my space.)

Police officer: (Fast, incomprehensible German)

Craig, guessing at what to say next: “Ich wohne auf …” (I live …)

Police officer: “Weiderholen die Adresse bitte.” (Repeat the address please.)

Craig: “Ich wohne auf …” (I live …)

Police officer: “Bitte warten Sie ein Moment.” (Please wait a moment.)

Police officer #2: (Fast, incomprehensible German)

Craig: “Wie bitte?” (Come again, please?)

Police officer #2: (Fast, incomprehensible German)

Craig: “Es tut mir leid. Ich verstehe nicht. Meine Adresse ist …” (I’m sorry, I do not understand. My address is …)

Police officer #2: Lets out an exasperated sigh and then hangs up the phone!

In the end, since the call to police was unsuccessful, Craig had to wait 30 minutes outside the apartment until the inconsiderate ass finally returned to his car and moved it. Needless to say, when Craig got into the apartment, he was exhausted, frustrated, and harboring a new resentment for life in Germany.

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Speedy Craigzales

I’ve been in Leipzig for just over a month now, and I was sincerely hoping I’d have some of my own blunders to share with you, but unfortunately nothing all that exciting or embarrassing has happened to me yet. Luckily, even though Craig has been in the country for a few months now, he’s still managing to experience some quandaries.

A couple weeks ago Craig received a little something special in the mail from the German government… Craig Ticket…a speeding ticket!

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Some sentiments are universal

Craig is now living in Leipzig and has been very busy settling into our new German city. He set up a new bank account, registered as a resident with the city, got the keys to our very empty apartment (he is living temporarily in a hotel until our things arrive), finally got his cell phone, and even managed to lease a car!

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Check out these wheels!

He has had a relatively pain-free transition thanks to the help of his German-speaking colleagues from work and our relocation expert, Birgit. He has, however, been running into a bit of trouble when he doesn’t have a translator around.

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The new guy at the office

Craig is working at the Heart Institute in Leipzig and has an office located across the street. It’s not a typical office building, but actually a rented apartment space that has been converted to an office. In his first week in Leipzig, he was working in the “office” alone when there was a knock on the door. He answered the door and was greeted by a German man who started rambling on in German before Craig interrupted him with a “Sprechen Sie Englisch, bitte?” The man shook his head no, and asked for Katrin (Craig’s co-worker). Katrin wasn’t there unfortunately, and after a few more attempts to get his point across, the man, obviously frustrated, held up his hand and said, “fünf Minuten, fünf Minuten.” Craig closed the door slowly as the man walked away, very confused about what just happened.

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Impressing a new boss

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.)

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