Monday, August 4, 2014

The Kindness of Germans (Elektrisch)

I was painting my nails for the fourth time that week and watching some trashy reality TV when…. Pehhhh. (That’s the sound of the power going out).

It was raining pretty hard- that’s probably the culprit, I thought.

I went on the balcony to see if any other apartments were blackout. I couldn’t quite tell, so I just lit some candles, finished my nails and went to bed (what else can I do?)

Dan got home from work at 7am the next morning… the power was still out. Oh well, it’ll be back on soon. I got up around 8am and made coffee. Just kidding… we have no power. I went to the corner café and bought coffee.

Dan couldn’t sleep thinking about the lack of power, so he got up and played with the switchbox (something he asked me to look at the night before, but I didn’t even know where it was located in our 900 square foot apartment, let alone what it should look like to be working properly.)

So after Dan looked at that for a while- he went to the basement to take a look at the master switchbox. I believe him when he says its unlike any US switchbox he’s ever seen… it was just totally… German to him.

While he was down in the basement, I called our Hausmeister (landlord). He spoke ZERO English. I tried Google translating key words to help the conversation but it didn’t work.

It’s afternoon time by this point and we have weekend plans. The lack of power and fear of rotting food is putting a damper on things.

We have neighbors that live across the hall. They’re retired and don’t speak a LICK of English. I knew that knocking on their door would be difficult and potentially awkward but couldn’t think of an alternative at that point.

After 15 minutes of luring them (house slippers and all) into our apartment and a little Ger-English game of pointing at lights and then shouting “Nein”, they understood we didn’t have power. (Note to self: the word “electric” sounds the exact same in German, “elektrisch”, and I could’ve led with that…)

After they understood we didn’t have power, they became very determined to help us. They called the Hausmeister to tell him. They took a look at our in-apartment switchbox and then to the basement to the very German giant switchbox. They realized that one our “bulbs” had blown. They searched their apartment and found an extra. They replaced it for us and BAM- power back.

Despite the language barrier and it being a Saturday and 100 other excuses they could’ve had, they were so tenacious about helping us

We of course repaid them with wine and extra bulbs. I still cannot get over the sheer selflessness of the people that surround us. I’m not so jaded I think people as inherently awful, I’m just consistently impressed at the kindness of strangers. 

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