January 26, 2009

As assumed – the trip to pick up items in the city and pay bills, and transfer, and blah blah blah took longer than anticipated with many hiccups. Such is life.

We, the trio headed out with a quick stop for coffee along the way. My co-worker, Jack, always gets a large coffee in a small cup because the large coffee in a large cup doesn’t fill the all the way to the top. The bakery uses one of those instant machines where they just push the large or small button. Anyway, there was talk of how he feels like he’s getting more coffee by putting the large in the small cup.

First we went to the student housing admin. office to pay for transferring rooms – a whopping 10euros. The lady working for our particular dorm is .. well, she was a total bitch when I met her last year in an attempt to change from the top floor to the ground floor. However, the last two times I’ve had to see her she’s been rather pleasant. Before I could pay for my room change she told me I had to pay my rent for the current month. I didn’t understand why, but she sent me to another office. Sometimes when people say things in German and I don’t think I understood them correctly because the reason or explanation seems like nonsense I blame it on the language..”oh, I must have misunderstood” – but usually I have understood them correctly and I have to deal with something. Case in point – my rent was never paid for January because the money wasn’t there – it’s usually a direct deposit for rent and the housing people take the money out. I go to this other woman and she gives me a slip and tells me to go to the cashier to pay, and then I can pay for a room change. She tells me she sent me a letter – I said I didn’t get it. (the letter is actually on my desk, I just never opened it when I got back in town..still haven’t opened it) I think that maybe they tried to take the money out before I was paid, so I go upstairs to pay.

The cashier is a friendly little German woman with fancy blue and diamond sparkled fingernails behind protective glass. I try to pay with my German bank card..debit..the machine asks me for my PIN. Well, shit. I never use my German bank card, well, I haven’t for the last two months – and I’ve forgotten my PIN. I try two times. The cashier tells me I can only try three times or else my card will be ‘gesperrt’, or blocked. I stop and tell her I’ll try to go to the bank and get cash in hand.

We head into the city and stop at the bank – I try my card in the ATM assuming I have three tries per location – but in actuality it’s per 24 hour period. Third try is not a charm and I lock my card. Dammit!

Luckily I am at the bank and I go upstairs and tell the lady I’ve blocked my card and have forgotten the PIN..by the way, can she tell me my account balance? It’s in the negative. I don’t know why. She tells me to go back downstairs and print out my account standing – I go and do that – and then back upstairs and wait in line again.

When it’s my turn to go I give her some money for my monthly insurance bill and to pay a doctor’s bill for a student from last semester.  In the time I went downstairs and back up I -think- I have remembered my PIN. In that case the woman doesn’t have to cancel my card out and she can just reset it for me. (For a fee? I don’t know..we’ll see on next month’s statement) She resets it and tells me to try it on an ATM downstairs.

I try on an ATM downstairs. FALSCH! I got it wrong, so I stop and decide to look for the PIN in my original paperwork from opening the bank account. Hoping, hoping, hoping I was responsible enough to keep that important paperwork. Well, that will have to wait until I’m home again.

We’re in the city to get some work done – what do we do? We head to the mall to try our luck at the closest T-Mobile where we need to collect 50 phone cards. The thing about Germany is that they are never prepared for more than 10-15..if that many. Every semester it takes at least 3 or 4 trips to different T-Mobiles to collect anywhere from 25-35 phone cards. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I would think 2 trips in the U.S.

Anyway, I go to the first T-mobile while Jack is trying on clothes in a store upstairs. The first T-mobile doesn’t have any phone cards. I think they’re lying to me because they just don’t want to sell me all that they have.


We go to a 2nd T-mobile and manage to collect 15 or so..ok, good start – if we’d been able to collect a few from the first store. We continue on with a stop at Subway. Everyday there’s a sub of the day for 2, 49 euros. I’m tempted, but resist. I go for a delicious chocolate chip cookie to hold me until I get home to cook for lunch.

Third T-mobile..they have another 12 or so cards..grrrreat. At this store we meet another American, he teaches technical english somewhere in the city and feeds the factoid that there are 551 registered Americans working in our current city. Hm, who knew? I think it’s a low number for a city of 500,00 inhabitants, but we are in the East, so maybe it’s not so low considering.

So, there’s one more option in the area, it’s the T-mobile in the train station. This one only has cards in a denomination I don’t need, so it’s also a strike-out. We need 15 more cards at this point.

Time to go home – I get there and find my bank information. Yay! Good thing maturity started a year ago. Now the problem is I need money in my account that I can now access with my pretty lil debit card. I call my boss and get things straightened out – the money will be there soon.

After lunch and a bit of aimless web browsing my account is revitalized and I walk on over to the housing place to pay. But, not before attempting to wash my bedding – there are four washing machines in the building, when I go down they all happen to be in use. Who washes at 3pm? It seems like the least likely time..anyway, I have to wait an hour for an open machine.  I go to pay and get that mission accomplished and sign my new contract for my new, bigger, and better room to come next month. Juhu!

Back at the ranch, err..dorm..I go down to wash..two machines are stopped, but the clothes are still inside..I wait for 10 minutes..they’ve already been sitting for another 10 before I even got there..there’s a bag on top of the machine. Does that mean put my clothes in the bag if I’m not here, or does it mean “machine in use” – which is pretty obvious from the clothes inside.I tired of waiting and conclude that people should set a timer to avoid these kinds of things and get their damn clothes out of the washer on time. I move quickly, putting the clothes in the bag that was on top of the machine..I throw my bedding into the wash as fast as possible, kinda nervous about my “bold move” because I don’t know if it’s standard procedure and I don’t like sticky run-ins with Germans. As I’m pouring the detergent in the machine I hear the door open – it’s a German girl, she sees me at the machine, walks out and makes a “Hmph..” sound and takes her bag of wet clothes off of the washing machine, and then goes to the other machine she also used for her 2nd load and starts unloading it into another bag. I pay to wash and peace out as quickly as possible.



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