Yesterday I picked up a package from my In-laws at the German Customs office. I think randomly they decide to hold a package for delivery and you must go there and be grilled. It's kinda scary, well lets just say I'm a wimp. First of all this place is far from where I live and past the SBahn line. It's a nondescript building, you enter a room with seats and must wait your turn. So you sit there and you have no idea how they know you are there....but they do! Someone comes out you get to go in.You hand over your first born proper forms and identification.
There was some one sided German conversation in which I listened and nodded to, but responding beyond Ja ( yes) was not the right answer! Oops! SORRY! So I did my, "Sprechen Sie Englisch? Ja I speak he said....gut so what is you need? And I'm all I have a package to pick up! He gets it and places on counter like it is a bomb or a pile of poop. He says What is this? How many guesses do I get, is what I wanted to say! But this guy had not a shredded of humor or wit about him, imagine Colonial Klink but meaner.
So anyways, I said it's a present from my In laws. He stares at me for what felt like hours...okay a few scary minutes! Hands me a knife box cutter and says OPEN IT ( in a really mean German scary voice)!! So I do and the box is full of those Styrofoam worms, they go everywhere....I was nervous, I might of spilled a few on accident! I take out two wrap gifts and a plastic bag full of Altoid tins. He looks at the Custom Form and says "What is it?" and I'm thinking dude they are wrapped WTH! But I said the form says one is a sweater and the other is a watch/bracelet set. He looks at the bigger of the two and says unwrap that one! I do and hold it up for approval that infact it is a sweather! Than he holds up the bag with Altoids and says WAS ist Das?
Great so we are back to the whole conversation in German are we? I said they are mints for your breath....and I'm thinking please don't take them I really need a breath mint right now!! He looks at me in disgust and says okay you can go!
I do my best German Danke Shoen (thank you) and tschuss! (bye) he rolls his eyes and shakes his head like oh now you are going to speak German.
That was the third experience that day of trying and failing and annoying Germans with my lack of language skills. I felt pretty beat up...on my lonely walk back to the SBahn sucking on an Altoid I thought I may never speak German again....better yet other than Starbucks I may never leave my house again!
Everyone always says if you at least try they will appreciate it. Well guess what those people don't exist in my neck of the woods! So until my bruises heal I'm only talking to the Starbucks Barista and my friend the DHL driver. Oh! and the guy at the ice cream store too!