Monday, December 13, 2010


A long time ago there was a little boy named German. He had a dream. His dream was to open a country with delicious pastry shops on every block. His friends Amerigo and Anglo and France1 laughed at him for such a dream, saying such things were impossible and foolish, and he should just focus on building piles of debt, but little German refused to listen, and persisted and persisted, and that is how Germany was made.

Few people understand the brilliance of having delicious pastries on every block. My home town believes in having one delicious donut shop2 to serve a population of approximately seven hundred thousand people. Germany believes in providing a delicious pastry shop for approximately every seven people.

Being a rather large man myself, I was excited to see this proliferation of pastries, this veritable arms race of ravinshingness, so, in one of my first acts in Germany, I resolved to purchase one.

In an incident that can only be described as the most uncomfortable moment of my professional career,3 I made the casual suggestion to my co-workers that I would visit said sellers of the saccharine with my trusty credit card. This was met with what can only be described as the fiercest laughter I had ever before, and will ever in the future, hear erupt from the mouths of Germans.4

I was then directed to an ATM (British English: Cash Machine) down the street. Apparently "down the street" in German means "thirteen kilometers away", because before long I found myself wearing a light jacket5 in a snowstorm somewhere on the French border. Eventually backtracking my way, I was then again met with laughter for missing the postage-stamp-sized sign marking the location of said ATM. Alas.

Of course, I was happy that they were laughing, because they were too distracted to realize that all of the German I regaled them with during my time there I learned from watching Indiana Jones. Just kidding! I picked up some elsewhere too.

When I wanted them to hurry to get to lunch, I could yell the same things I saw prison guards yell in The Great Escape: Schnell! When I wanted them to listen, I thought back to my U2 days, and announced: Achtung Baby! When I wanted to tell them inspire them with deep wisdom, I just remembered my old school's motto and said, "Die Luft der Freiheit weht". When I wanted to order just one delicious pastry, I remembered the Swiss Bobsled team from Cool Runnings, and said, "Eins, Zwei, Drei!", which simultaneously confused and impressed the lady behind the counter. And when Sven didn't show up to work in the morning, I was able to say "Wo ist Sven?", having seen a German Tank Commander with large bulging veins scream that same phrase about the venerable Dr. Jones.

My crowning achievement was introducing them to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, by playing and singing Danke Schöne for the combined Operations Group.

That being said, Germany is basically a cold version of paradise. There are delicious pastries, stunningly beautiful women, Christmas Markets with all of the fried goods you could possibly dream about, and no laws against indoor smoking. Oh wait, that last one is from my list of "reasons everything I own reeks of smoke", and also my list of "reasons I had to stuff toilet paper up my nostrils in the airport terminal bathroom before I stabbed my face".6 But disregarding the fact that I'm going to bathe myself and the rest of my possessions in rubbing alcohol tonight, I love oh love beautiful, delicious Germany.

And, if you'll excuse me, I need to practice on my translations of "would you like to go to dinner?", and "what are your feelings on converting?"

1. I realize you're probably thinking that France isn't a real dude's name, but let me assure you that I've known at least one guy named France, who won the popularity conte...I mean, election to the resume building clu...I mean to the President of the Most Useless Student Body Association on the Face of the Planet (that is, BYUSA); motto: We Rubberstamp Whatever the Adults Say.
2. That is, Banbury Cross; motto: We Give You a Reason to be Fat.
3. This is, of course, a malicious lie. Being asked, later that evening, to stand and hug the German Director of Operations while swaying and lip-synching to a sappy German love song in front of an excess of one hundred people at the company Christmas Party exceeded said awkwardness fourfold. And I am so not making this up. Dear Future Self: next time, speak the language in which you are asked to sing for a large crowd. Let us pray the alcohol consumed by all viewing parties has erased the memory of said event in their minds.
4. I really cannot overemphasize the raucous laughter that met me at such a ridiculous suggestion. I was then taunted for always using a card, asked why I couldn't use cash, and forced to listen to the occasional outbursts of snorting chuckles throughout the day as they mulled over the idea of a bakery accepting a credit card. I felt this unfair, as the last time I was in Denmark, and suggested that a store might not accept a credit card, I was subjected to a similar amount of scorn, as the Danes make known how backward I was for even thinking cash was necessary in this day and age. Europe: get your act together.
5. Dear Future Self: Bring a coat to Europe next time, you moron.
6. There could be multiple items on that list, but let's not go into those now.


Unknown said...

Du kölsche Jung! :-)

Cici said...

Chris, you sound like one awesome kid with a lot of great ideas. I would love to meet you in person. What do you think?

Unknown said...

Dude, this is amazing. I was in Germany last summer on a trip for work, and I totally experienced the pastry shop credit card scorn. And scorn at every other restaurant that I assumed would take credit card. Also, the difficulty of finding a functioning ATM is ridiculous. I once spent and hour in Stuttgart, one of the largest cities in Germany, trying to find an ATM that would take my card!
Another reason that Germany is the perfect country, which you failed to mention, is that they have adopted the enclosed motorcycle. I'm still unsure why the rest of the world hasn't caught on to the "transportation of the future", but the Germans definitely have!

Brent said...

I miss Banbury Cross. :(

Amy said...

I love Germany, and I think you've pretty much captured it. While we were there, my husband insisted on stopping at every single bakery. It took us a long time to walk anywhere.