Today was quite the day

I’m not normally one to complain (ahem) but today really took the piss. It actually started yesterday with monsoon-like rain all day, which instantly flooded the city causing major traffic delays, flooded U-Bahn stations, knee-deep water in some buses, building evacuations and, because it’s Berlin, people swimming down major streets and being pulled along in dinghies while drinking beer.

I’m not exaggerating

A storm in German is “Sturm” or “Gewitter” – a really bad storm is called “Unwetter” which, in English, would be unweather. Obviously this makes no sense at all as it’s actually ALL the weather in one go and not even remotely unweather. But hey, German…

This morning, expecting delays, I set off for my lesson a bit earlier than usual, grimly plodding through the drizzle. The bus showed up and dropped me off at the U-Bahn station. What should have been a simple ten-minute ride was made impossible by the fact that around six stations along the way were closed due to flooding. This was one of them.

So I travelled two stops, got off, got on the replacement bus and waited while another 100 people squeezed their soggy selves in. The problem with that is that the doors don’t close when people are in the way of the sensors so other passengers were yelling at people to get off at each stop; one man’s beer belly held us up for a good five minutes.

The BVG (Berlin Transport Company) representative had “reliably” informed me that the bus was going all the way to Zoo, one stop past where I had to go. But no, the driver stopped at another U-Bahn station along the way claiming that the U-Bahn was running again. She kicked us all off, down we went and no, stupid cow, the U-Bahn was not running.

By this time, I was already half an hour late so I had no choice but to cancel my lesson. I waded across the road and actually managed to squeeze into a replacement taxi. Yes, things were so bad that the BVG were transporting people using TAXIS. Then it was back on the U-Bahn, back on the bus and, finally, home. It had taken me almost 2.5 hours to achieve absolutely nothing and end up back where I started.

I wrote a scathing email to the BVG and consoled myself with the thought that I had a nice evening with my friend to look forward to – preferably with excess amounts of whiskey. Shortly afterwards, he messaged to say that he wasn’t feeling well and had to cancel. My opera singing neighbour started up and I contemplated justifiable homicide.

Still, I had to calm myself down as I had another lesson to go to this afternoon. I had carefully checked to make sure that the S-Bahn was running normally and set off. I got to the station right on time only to see the three words that every German dreads – Zug fällt aus. My train had “fallen out” and the next one wasn’t until 11 minutes later.

Argh!

A torrent of swear words, a bit like the torrents of rain, ensued. I sent my student a message telling her I’d be a few minutes late. She was actually happy enough as she’d ordered cake and would now have time to eat it. Nothing makes a German happier than coffee and cake.

After walking up the stairs (because of a broken escalator) and being accosted by a rude beggar, I eventually made it to the lesson. While I spoke flawless German, the barista insisted on answering in English – which resulted in him receiving a von Grady growl. It started raining halfway through the lesson and by the time I left, it was more unweather.

The town that I’d left just a couple of hours earlier was now a swimming pool. My boots weren’t quite up to the challenge and I squelched my way home, as engulfed in misery and self-pity as my feet were in water.

How it looked when I was swimming home
How it looked 30 minutes after I’d got home…

Grrr.

Manfredas: Hey, do you fancy dinner at the Surf Inn? 

Me: Yeah, sure. 

Manfredas: As long as it isn’t flooded. But I guess then we could “surf in”.

Me: Too soon…

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A bum deal

I’ve been having a problem with very dry, itchy skin on my bum for a while now. When my self-thought-up treatment plan – scratching and hoping – didn’t seem to be yielding any results, I knew it was time to see a doctor.

While I’m a fan of men looking at my bottom in general, in this case, I thought a lady doctor would be infinitely better so I emailed a couple of Frauenärztin. Boom – I managed to get an appointment only a week and a half later. That’s practically five minutes in German time. I filled the nine days by scratching and sitting on one butt cheek – time well spent.

On the morning in question, I walked into the surgery where the jolly receptionist handed me a form to fill in. I took a seat in the waiting room beside a couple of terrified-looking dads-to-be and examined the form. Name, address, date of birth, how often and how long my period is – no problems there.

Height in metres: 

Um. No idea. I wasn’t sure that “the same height as Kylie Minogue” would be exact enough for a German doctor so I took a stab at it.

Weight in kilograms: 

Even less idea. 85? Sounds reasonable. Yeah, let’s put that down.

Why you’re here today: 

“Problem mit…” Was “Arsch” an appropriate word to use on a German form? Deciding it probably wasn’t, I hit up Google for some options – “Hintern” seemed to tick the boxes. In it went. I handed the form back to the receptionist and waited to be called. A diminutive woman in her late fifties or early sixties announced “Frau Ogg-rah-dee” and in I went.

She took one look at me and started chuckling. Could she see my Arschproblem just from the way I was walking?

Doc: Bah haha! I expected you to be a little bigger! Why did you write 85 kilos? You’d be like this… (imitates a fat person waddling around the room)

Me: ‘Cos I’m Irish and have no idea about the metric system?

Doc: Hee hee hee. What part of Ireland? 

Me: Dublin. 

Doc: My daughter went to university there – I love Ireland. 

Me: Great! 

Doc: So, I see you have a problem with your Popo. 

Me: Popo…! (keels over laughing) 

So, it seemed that Popo was the term favoured by German doctors. Fine by me.

She directed me towards an examination chair in the corner and I took off my jeans and knickers. Feeling a bit like a half-plucked chicken, I hopped up onto the chair, spread my legs and put my feet on the pads. The height of elegance. The doctor proceeded to poke around in my bumly quarters.

Doc: Oh, ganz schlimm, ganz schlimm… (Very bad, very bad…)

Me: Ganz schlimm? 

Doc: Oh ja. Ganz schlimm. 

Me: I wish you’d stop saying that. 

Doc: Aber es ist wirklich ganz schlimm. 

Me: Am I going to lose my Popo? 

Doc: Ha haha! NEIN! Aber es ist wirklich ganz schlimm. 

Me: Please stop saying that. 

Doc: Have you had any other medical problems lately?

Me: Well, I had very dry skin on my hands during the winter…

Doc: Could be related. (Does this woman think I sit around tickling my bum in my free time?) Do you eat a lot of oranges? 

Me: No. Oh, but I am having a love affair with blood orange juice.

Doc: Could also be related. 

Me: Huh, I thought that would be healthy? You know, Vitamin C and all? 

Doc: Yes. 

Me: Erm…

After examining whatever she had scraped from my Popo under a microscope and pronouncing it to be “ganz schlimm” and some sort of bacterial infection, she gave me a prescription for two creams – one to be used twice a day and the other whenever I felt like it.

Me: But is there a particular number of times a day I should use it? 

Doc: NEIN. Schmieren, schmieren, schmieren (smear, smear, smear), whenever and wherever you like. 

Me: So, maybe in the U-Bahn? 

Doc: Ha ha ha! Well, maybe not in the U-Bahn. 

Me: “Don’t mind me, fellow passengers. I’m just schmieren my Popo. Schmieren, schmieren, schmieren. Doctor’s orders.”

Doc: Ha haha! 

I was probably the most fun the woman had that day.

Anyway, you’ll be glad to hear that I’ve been schmieren away like a demon and my poor Popo is finally on the mend. And if I could give you a word of advice, remember that when it comes to your bum, schmieren is carin’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking shit. Literally.

On Monday, I got rained into a bar – my worst nightmare, as you can imagine. However, I really did mean to stay for just one but then the heavens opened. Google had (oh so reliably) informed me that there was a 0% chance of precipitation that day, so I’d set off in a summer dress and flip-flops, without any of the all-weather paraphernalia the Germans are famous for.

While a lot of people might look at this as a fail on my part, these people clearly do not know me very well. First of all, it was a chance to confuse a whole new set of Berlin pub regulars with my intoxicating Irish accent. Second of all, a trip to the bathroom provided unexpected gold. (“Really, Linda? Toilets again?” I hear you groan.)

Gold.

Now, I’m all for “WC” signs throughout the establishment directing me towards the floodgate unleasher, but never have I seen a “WC” sign directly above the loo. Maybe this was the kind of pub where people got so drunk there was a chance they might mistake the sink/floor for the toilet? Or maybe the local clientele just weren’t that bright to begin with? There were no signs over the bin or the sink but I guess it’s not so important if you miss those…

Anyway, I figured out from the clever signage that the WC was, in fact, the toilet. I’m a smart cookie…

As I approached, I noticed the little picture on the toilet lid. I rubbed my eyes. Nope, the glass of wine hadn’t gone to my head – it really was a poo in a speech bubble. But what could it mean? I started coming up with some ideas:

  • Feel free to talk shit here?
  • Let your poo do the talking?
  • If I were a turd, what would I say…?
  • Poo has the right to freedom of speech?
  • A poo is worth a thousand words?

The only talking poo I’d ever seen was on South Park so this was a bit of a mystery to me. I’m shit out of ideas so does anybody else have any? Is this some kind of German thing I’ve never heard of? Answers on a postcard (i.e. in the comments below).