Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Over a barrel

 chillaxing, not having an axe to grind

Last year they redid the main road that runs along the top of my street and left no room for a bicycle lane, in fact the bicycle lane literally just ends at some point, and the cyclist is told to dismount.  This got me really angry, I mean why should I stop, when it would take me about 2 minutes to get home by bike.  Instead, I would have to walk my bike along the road and then breathe in the fumes of two-lane traffic. Totally unnecessary.

This week I called up to complain about a bill I had received, nearly 70 Euros and for what? The plumber showed me that I had to press the button on the gas heater for 5 seconds and not 1 in order for it to start. Seventy Euros for 5 minutes work, which had been billed for 1 hour and 15 minutes of repair and skilled work. Talk about daylight robbery.

In the Kindergarten where my son is, he will be probably be chucked out after one year. Not for bad behaviour, but because my husband’s work contract runs out at the end of November and the Kindergarten is run by his place of work.

Recently, I’ve realised that I spend a lot of energy getting worked up about things that I can’t really do anything about. After all, living as a trailing spouse with a soon to be jobless husband applying here there and everywhere, it is not like I haven’t got any other concerns at the moment, including my own fledgling career reboot plans.

So today, as an experiment I got off my bike where the bike lane cuts off because the sign told me too, feeling absolutely ridiculous at my obedience to walk the 100 metres along the road to the crossing. Other cyclists sped happily by me.  I accepted the rules absurdity and somehow it made me feel better. That’s a hard one for me, not to fight/break stupid rules.

And the plumber. God, I always have to deal with these issues, with the landlords, with the handymen, and with the authorities. And from my experience even having lived here for years with a fairly good grasp of German, it is a real handicap if German is not your mother tongue.  Sometimes you can use this fact to your advantage as I did with the plumber last week. He wasn’t letting me speak, and I said, please could he give me time to speak as he must know that German is my second language, the subtext being “you are not treating me with such little respect because I am a foreigner, are you?” Usually works a treat. But in any language, it is hard to contest a bill.

And the Kindergarten? I knew this was the case when I applied to the Kindergarten.  But somehow I had a glimmer of hope that somehow our situation might change, or the Kindergarten may show mercy. Sometimes they designate the child a place if they have no applications in that age group. But somehow the idea of removing a child from a kindergarten where efforts have been made to integrate the child and make him seem comfortable seems so ludicrous and just about rules and regulations, where there is in actual fact a child at the centre of things. In my fantasy, I imagine myself fighting such bureaucracy through the courts, but in reality it is just something else to get worked up about.

So plan A (acceptance), I am going to follow the rules, with a smirk. The good citizens of Bielefeld will bless me, and I might even get my bike lights fixed, I mean really go for it.

I will pay the daylight robbers – “Hut ab!” a German phrase roughly translated “I take my hat off to you”, or in the language of youth – Respect!  Dear Mr Plumber, I am over a barrel, you win, “bin ├╝ber den Tisch gezogenliterally - you’ve pulled me over the table, thank you for your trouble,   Frau (sucker) Marshall. Actually not as bad as I thought, losing that battle.

And the Kindergarten place – well it’s a bit of a journey to get there, children are more adaptable to change than we are as adults. Or what about that old chestnut – it’s not the end of the world - I think the saying goes. Might help with this one.

This year may just be a lot easier to deal with if I just accept that I have no control over the Kindergarten situation or the imminent wobbly job/place/future situation otherwise known as the rug being pulled from under me scenario.

Less of a plan, and more of an experiment.  Lets see how it goes.

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