Starting with a startup

I’ve finally started my new job. The hold up was due to the fact that startups here seem to advertise a position, make someone jump through hoops to get it, and then realise that they don’t have any money to pay said someone. So, after a lot of faffing about and toing and froing, I’ve agreed to start on the money they’ve managed to scrape together, BUT with the condition that I work flexible hours to supplement this pittance salary with teaching hours. This is sensible as depending on whether or not they make any money this month, I might not have a job to go to next month.

Of course, this means that instead of just going to one place every morning and staying there for the day, I have to travel across the city to an English lesson at the crack of dawn, travel back across the city to put in the hours at the new job, and then sometimes travel all the way back across the city for an evening lesson. I actually feel guilty about the value for money I’m getting out of my monthly travel pass.

The main casualty in all of this – apart from my sleep – was poor old Dolf, who I had to ditch. This wasn’t really a bad thing though as it seemed like the man was actually learning backwards, something I wouldn’t have believed possible before.

Me: What time is it in this picture? 

Dolf: 1982. 

He also beat his cat in front of me – not a euphemism – so I wasn’t overly sorry to give him up.

It's 1982.
It’s 1982.

Aside from all of the faffing and travelling, the new job is going pretty well. My three male colleagues are charming and pretty easy on the eye but, of course, I’m too focused on work to notice…

The downside is that as the company needs money to stay afloat (and keep me in gainful employment), it’s much more sales than marketing at the moment. While pestering complete strangers on the phone all day isn’t how I want to spend the rest of my life, I’m gradually learning to throw my dignity to the wind and enjoy being a nuisance. Anyway, someone, some day, might actually think I’m doing them a favour. Hopefully that day comes sooner rather than later.

Our building is brand new and, at the moment, practically deserted. This is probably because all of the offices haven’t been rented yet, companies haven’t moved in yet, or startups have gone bust before they managed to gather together their shrapnel for the first month’s rent. We have a little office that’s just big enough for the four of us, but that could definitely do with a woman’s touch – no, not this woman.

Where are Hildeberta and Hildegard when you need them?
Where are Hildeberta and Hildegard when you need them?

As the building is almost empty, there’s never any problem calling the lift, which speaks to me in German I can understand whenever I push a button. The kitchen is a few doors from our office, but again, could do with a woman’s touch. Someone has, however, managed to find a kettle from the 60s which you have to plug out to turn off, as there is no on/off switch. This has already led to several adventures where I’ve overestimated the time it will take to boil and come back to a kitchen full of steam and water dripping down the walls.

Each company has a drawer and a cupboard to itself where you can keep your cups, spoons and other bits and pieces. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting to bring a spoon so I have to rob another company’s sole spoon every time I want to make a cup of tea. When they hide it (which they sometimes do), I have to use the random knife that’s in our drawer. After rooting through most of the drawers, I’ve also discovered that nobody has brought a corkscrew which means that it probably won’t be that sort of building.

Spoonless kitchen.
Spoonless kitchen.

Apart from playing “Hunt the Spoon”, it’s also fun watching other companies move in. So far, as our neighbours, we have a company called “Electric Eyes” – probably not as exciting as it sounds – and another called “Sweet and Sticky” – hopefully not as horrible as it sounds. I’m already imagining that after I take a couple of months to get to know them and they start giving me stuff, I’ll be able to cut my sweet and sticky cake with my laser beam eyes. This may be about as realistic as me buying a pot plant for the office though…

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Sleeping with the Germans

Contrary to popular belief, Germany (unfortunately) isn’t all about the Nippel-twisting and Arsch-licking, so when I say sleeping, I actually mean, sleeping. Sorry to disappoint but it’s not my fault your mind went where it did on reading the headline. (Dirty bugger.)

As with most things, sleeping in Germany is a serious business. Don’t be surprised if, when you go back to your new lover’s place and are passionately shedding your smalls as you smooch your way towards the bedroom, you are faced with a bit of a surprise when you get there. You see, practicality trumps romance in a German bedroom. Sure, he’s got a double bed, but you won’t be snuggling up under a double duvet after the main event.

NEIN, this could lead to all sorts of chaotic behaviour. One of you might get more of the duvet than the other, or God forbid, take the opportunity to dice with the dreaded “Dutch oven”. Perhaps if it had been called a “Deutsch oven” things might have been different, but as it stands, you’ll be keeping your Wurst farts to yourself. On a German double bed, there are two single duvets, which, when you think about it, actually makes perfect sense.

Relationship saver
Relationship saver

Germans are also rather early risers so don’t be surprised if, even after the most strenuous exertions, your German is wide awake at ungodly o’clock and slipping his manly German feet into his Hausschuhe. The good news is that he’ll probably make you a nice cup of tea or force-feed you magnesium (to replace lost vitamins) after he’s had his morning Sitzpinkel.

My current Hausschuhe
My current Hausschuhe

All in all, I’m a fan of the Germans’ nocturnal ways; you never have to wake up shivering in the middle of the night, you needn’t worry if he develops a taste for Heinz beans, and you usually get a productive, early start to the day. If I had to gripe about one thing however – and I do – it’s German pillows. Yes, the country that brought us the car, the computer, the jet engine, the pill, X-ray technology, beer and, rather ingeniously, aspirin to ward off the effects of said beer, has failed abysmally at creating comfortable pillows.

I’ve slept in a lot of beds since I moved to Berlin (I’ve changed apartment a lot, OK? Don’t you judge me…) and I can safely say, I’ve yet to find a decent pillow. Pillows in Germany are not your standard rectangular haven of loveliness. No, not content with this, the Germans have created massive square monstrosities that have the approximate consistency of a marshmallow. It doesn’t matter how much you fluff them, pile them, or beat them, as soon as you lay your head on a German pillow, the stuffing retreats to all four far-flung corners and your head is left languishing pathetically on the mattress.

WHY?!
WHY?!

Still, I like to think that this isn’t an oversight on the Germans’ part, but rather, another clever (if tricky) invention. After all, where would the country be if everyone was still drooling into their non-neckbreaking pillows at 8am? Down the Scheißer, that’s where…