Sunday, November 9, 2014

Holy Lost in Translation

Photo Credit

I’ve talked about our across the hall neighbors in Germany before. They’re a sweet older couple that doesn’t speak a lick of English. I usually see them 4-5 times a week either in the stairwell, checking the mail or walking to the local bakery. So I found it odd that when I came back to Germany solo in September, I didn’t see them for a good 3 weeks.

Because I’m super rational, I told Dan that I thought they were dead. And no one knows, and I should maybe do something about it. My more reasonable half told me they were not dead, but probably on a trip or something. I even told my German friend and she responded with the very specific, “Oh yes, Dan is right, old people love to take long trips to Spain.”

The very next day, I run into them in the stairwell! Not dead. Not eating tapas.

We then attempt to “catch up” through charades and repeating words slowly over and over. From this conversation, if you can call it that, I understand that they are asking me about Dan, as they haven’t seen him. I tell them that he is in the states, he has a job there now and that we’re moving in the next few weeks.

I know they didn’t understand any of that, but I say have a good day and we each go about our business. I laugh to myself. While I was thinking they were dead… they were probably thinking Dan was dead. Or whatever rational people think when they don’t see their neighbors for a few weeks.


Fast forward to a week later. Dan and I are “checking out” of our apartment and our landlord is there. She tells us that after my run-in with them the week prior, they immediately called her. They heard me say something that sounded like “trouble.” They asked her what this meant and what was going on.

Turns out. They thought Dan had left me. And I was all alone in Germany now. They wanted to comfort me and make sure I wasn’t sad. But of course there’s the problem with the language. One day, their granddaughter came over who speaks English and she even knocked on our apartment door to talk to me, but I wasn’t home.

The landlord went on to tell us that they were really sad that we’re leaving and we had been really great neighbors.

So after we handed off the keys to the landlord, we knocked on the door to say our final goodbye. I showed them that Dan still exists and that there was “nein trouble”. Then we all nodded at each other and said “danke” because that’s really as far as we could go with a legit conversation. Which in hindsight, maybe that’s why we were both such great neighbors.  


  1. Danke schön for writing this blog post. I needed this daily dose of Germany and laughs!

    1. Thanks for your kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed it!


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