Bezirk [1] in Berlin© – 30:  July 10, 2012 

WHY MY SHIRT WAS IN THE SCANNER

Here’s the explanation:  Our 6-year-old grandson had created some art for us.  He had drawn a picture of Grandma and Grandpa.  He said it was us on our wedding day, and included a nice bridal gown for me and a top hat for his Grandpa.  We were holding hands and dancing.  Then he cut out the figures.  When we got home, I wanted to preserve a digital version of this and thought that the silhouettes could use a colorful background.  Alas, we don’t have anything like construction paper lying around, so I had the idea to use my red shirt as a background.  I put the figures on the scanner and then laid the shirt on top before I closed the cover to scan them.  So see – there really IS a logical explanation!  Right after I had this all set up, Harvey walked into the living room to see my shirt in the scanner – or rather a part of my shirt in the scanner, as the device certainly isn’t big enough to hold the entire shirt.  I DO rather wish I had had my camera so I could have captured the look on his face when he came upon this scene.  It was at least as good as the time he came into the bedroom to find me with my underpants on my head.  There was an excellent explanation, there, too.  I always put on my makeup before I get dressed.  Otherwise, I’m likely to get makeup on my clothes.  On this particular day, I was wearing a slip-over blouse and didn’t want to get makeup on it.  What better way to do that than to put a pair of nylon panties on your head while you pull the blouse on?  [I should have shared this tip with Heloise – thereby puzzling not just my own husband, but tens of thousands of other husbands throughout the land.]  I think that at first he thought I may have forgotten how to dress myself.  That day might be coming, but so far, so good!

MAKING LEMONADE OUT OF LEMONS

Most definitely got a large dose of lemons last week!  I went to the grocery store and, after taking my shopping list out of my wallet, I apparently put my wallet in the shopping cart rather than back into my pocket.  I do NOT remember doing this, but the store security video is irrefutable proof that I did!  I am normally excruciatingly careful about such things.  Harvey is the one who loses his wallet – repeatedly – and it always comes back to him (on one occasion, even before he knew it was missing.  [He once took our son sledding and, rather than lock his wallet in the glove compartment and lock the car, he put it in his back pocket.  This place was a huge field, with 3 feet of snow.  Before he got back home, our phone rang and it was some guy telling me he had found Harvey’s wallet!  What are the chances of that?  And I have at least 5 more equally unlikely stories about Harvey and his boomerang wallet.]  On the other hand, I inadvertently take a risk – for 15 minutes – and pay the full price for my absentmindedness.  And, of course, your wallet contains only crucial things:  my cash card, my fare card (with 3 months of tickets, which are not replaceable if you lose them), and my visa (not the credit care, but the one that German gives you so you can prove you’re legally in the country).  Plus a few extra single-trip fare cards for when we have Noe with us.  Plus about 100 Euros (about $125 US).  So, in addition to being out about close to $300 US, I get to go through all the headache of making myself whole again – going to the bank to turn off my cash card (and wait at least a week before I get a new one); going to the BVG (public transportation bureau) because, even though they won’t replace my fare cards, I still need to get the ID associated with my fare cards; and going to the Immigration office to get a new visa.  When you get to be my age, time is more valuable than money—after all, a week is not an insignificant percentage of the time I have left on the planet (whereas when I was 20, it wasn’t even enough to measure in those terms).  So the time and annoyance of making myself whole again is, at best, an aggravation.  So, where’s the lemonade?  First, my house keys were not attached to my wallet.  If the thief had both my address and my keys, that would have been a nightmare.  We would have had to have paid to change the front and back door locks for our flat (and each door has 2 locks on it).  It’s entirely possible that we would also have had to have paid to change the lock to the building (as well as pay for replacement keys for all the other tenants).   Second, Harvey was at home (only 2 blocks away) and I had my phone, so he could come to the store and pay for the groceries.  Third, the store employees were tremendously helpful, which came as a surprise (especially after I did such a dumb thing).  Germans don’t share American ideas when it comes to customer service.  For instance, if you get to a cash register and the clerk is having a conversation on the phone (or with another employee), you’re just gonna damned well have to wait until they’re finished with their conversation before you’re gonna get waited on.  And they’re often pretty brusque in general.  However, these folks were helpful in the extreme!  They looked all over the store for my wallet.  Then they checked the security video, which captured both the inexplicably stupid thing I had done and the despicable person taking my wallet.  Fourth, the clerk at the store called the police, who came within 30 minutes, and took the report.  This saved me lots of time; otherwise, I would have had to have found a police station and waited God-only-knows-how-long to file a report.  The report is important not that I expect the miscreant to be apprehended, but rather because I need the report to get my visa replaced.  Fifth, there are so many ways this could have been so much worse.  If it had happened any time between February and June, when we were taking the kids back and forth from their new home to their old school (a 3 hour trip each time), we would have been hard-pressed to have the time to tend to all these remedial measures.  And, that’s when my yearly fare card was new, and I would not only have lost 6 months worth of fare cards, but would also have had to have paid to travel once (and sometimes twice) a day on school duty.  Now that they’ll be going to schools in their new neighborhood, I won’t need the fare card as much – especially since we’re taking a couple of short trips in July and August and wouldn’t even be here to use them.  And, finally, all this (so far) has been easier than I had anticipated – even with the added complexity of dealing with such things in a foreign country.  The weather has been lovely and so we’ve used our excursions to the various offices as an excuse to play tourist, exploring the neighborhoods where these offices are.  So take THAT, you sleazebag thief!!

DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS

This blog will offer another piece of art by Evie Fullingim’s granddaughter, Maddie Johnson.  The way things usually work is that I write some narrative, share it with Evie, and then she comes up with a cartoon to accompany the narrative.  Well, when you introduce youngsters into the plan, their creativity is more spontaneous so I have to reverse the process and must come up with narrative to accompany the cartoon.  Being a little girl, of course, Maddie has a little girl’s ideas of what William the Wonder Cat might like, which, in this case, is a Bed of Hearts.  Having a more than casual interest in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, the only narrative that comes into my mind that connects felines to hearts comes from Aztec lore, where the “feline” is a jaguar and the “heart” bears not the slightest resemblance to the Valentine hearts imagined by little girls, but is a rather gruesome thing.  But for the moment, let us indulge ourselves by looking at the world from a child’s eyes; and surely, William is far removed from the jaguar of the Aztecs and may well prefer his hearts to resemble Valentines.


[1] ‘Bezirk’ is German for ‘neighborhood.’

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