Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Do you have niiiiiiiiiiiiineteeeeeeeeen cents?"

It happened again. Upon every excursion I make whether it be to the grocery store, or down town, or even walking down the street, I am approached. I am not just approached by just anyone. It is usually a homeless person, someone who looks like they are in dire need of something, or someone making a comment about something(I usually have no idea what) and my only response is that I smile and laugh and act like I knew what they said.

The other day I was buying my metro ticket, and this drunk, older guy came up to me. He said. "Haben Sie neunzehn cent?" Which means, "Do you have 19 cents?"
First off, I obviously did, as he could see, I had a 50 Euro bill hanging out of my wallet. Secondly, why did he ask for 19 cents when there does not exist a 19 cent coin but only a 20 cent coin. Third, the way he asked it was so creepy because when he pronounced the "neunzehn (nineteen)" part of it he drew it out almost to an extended whiney yell, that caused me to smell his intensely unbrushed, alcohol drenched breath. So it sounded more like this, in German though. "Do you have NIIIIIIIIIIIIINETEEEEEN cent?"
I replied, "Nein" (no).
Then, to make things even better he stood there the whole time I was using my money, taking out all my coins, and then getting all my change back. He just stood there. Staring at me. I then started to feel guilty, so of coarse I gave him ninety cents, even though he asked for nineteen, because at first i misunderstood if he was saying nineteen, or ninety. Ninety cents I gave this drunk mad man. I guess it wasn't enough even for him because he then continued to the next person asking for "NEEEEUUUUUNNNNZZZEEEHHHN cent!"
They of coarse denied him.

Leaving the house yesterday I said to myself, "Ok, as long as no one talks to you, you will be fine."
I had to go down town to get some supplies for my craft project and some Christmas decorations. My first interaction with a German was in the metro station. I was just about to get on the escalator when this guy...let me give you a visual. He was wearing an entire bike suit with his bike in hand, had on sporty looking sunglasses, and a helmet. In the metro station. That already is strange. He came up to me, even though there were many people around and said something. He had a speech impediment, making my understanding him a bit more difficult. He looked like he needed an answer to something and was very frustrated. I said to him once again, like I tell everyone. "My German is not so good, I'm sorry I can't help you." He looked at me after I had said this and seemed as though someone had just died. Everyone was looking at us. My face got really hot, and probably turned bright red. All I could do was walk away. So, here i was. I had no idea what he wanted, people were looking at me like I was a horrible person, and he watched me walk away like I had just murdered his mother. What have I done! All I want to do is go get some stupid Christmas decorations to make it seem at least a little bit like Christmas.

When I got to the store I was in the check out line, and of coarse one of my stockings had no price tag. The cashier lady I think asked me if I knew the price. I said "I have no idea." In German. Then after I said that I think maybe she asked something else because she gave me a strange look and then walked away.

Another time, I was at the grocery store waiting in line. It was a pretty long line and the two women in front of me and this other guy kept leaving to get stuff and then coming back. The guy in front of me and behind them made some sort of comment. I had no idea what it was, but he of coarse said it to me. It was probably something sarcastic like,"Are they shopping from the line or something?" All I could do was put on a smile and laugh nervously. He also gave me a strange look, and then turned around.

Am I wearing a sign that says, "I don't speak German very well" so people see that and say to themselves, "Let's go talk to her because she won't understand what I am saying and it will make her really uncomfortable." I think so! i think I am a walking target. Everyone here I tell this to, they say, "How do these things happen to you, it never happens to me?"

I don't know why these things happen but they do. Even in the states one time, I was checking out at Walgreen's, and the woman at the counter kept me there for about ten minutes telling me her life story. Also this guy at the grocery store, the same thing happened. He told me his life story, what he did, why he didn't like it, all within five minutes. He then asked me what I did, and I said I was a hairstylist. Of coarse after that he wanted a haircut. He then became my client for about a year, and was known as the Sasquatch sized weirdo who wanted to grow out one piece of his bangs so he could someday bead it like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Well, all this goes to say that I guess I don't mind it because it keeps me entertained and breaks me out of my shell a bit. But sometimes I really wish people could just let me be. Or at least after I tell them I don't speak that good of German, they would say, "Oh where are you from? Let's be friends so that you have someone to talk to."
Although I wouldn't want to be friends with homeless drunk guy.

1 comment:

Cara C said...

Hey Hillary! I just saw your blog noted on your facebook, I love your writing, it's like reading a story...I totally understand the awkwardness of being surrounded by a language you don't know. Hang in there!
Can't wait to see what you post next!