Bloody hell, I feel like I’m Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Every day, the same routine. Every day, I try to get it right—shred the bottles, collect the deposit, bring the right groceries home, keep the cellphones stocked with credit, refill the wine bottle, and every bloody day I get half of it wrong. Maybe the day I get it right, bingo, we get to go home.
I can’t help but let it get to me, the way the cashier at Kaiser’s reacted when I asked him to change my 2 euro coin for two 1 euro coins, just to unlock one of those ridiculously small carts with correct change so I could buy groceries in his store. Was the eyeroll, the sigh, the sagging shoulders, and the look of contempt really necessary? Why don’t they just unlock those carts then, if they don’t feel like making change?
Remember when Bill Murray loses it with that insurance salesman? I felt like that when I couldn’t fit the child-sized cart through the cramped aisle of muesli, when I had to back out of the next aisle three times to make way for a clerk restocking shelves, who never said excuse me or thank you, not once.
Did the woman at the secondhand children’s store really have to say to E, who had just said she loves Berlin and wishes she could stay, “I wouldn’t want to go back to the United States either”?
Do phone credits really have to come on grocery receipts that look like trash, so much so that someone goes ahead and throws it out, the very thing S has been waiting for for days, that she couldn’t face going to the grocery store and buying herself? Is it my fault that someone poured oil and soy sauce on the receipt before it was fished out of the trash? Did I really deserve to be hung up on over this, as if I’d planned its demise and laughed in triumph?
Does the man in the French café have to speak to me in French, German and English every time I go there? Could someone else maybe take over that errand, or could we drop it from our repertory?
Could the people in our neighborhood start picking up after the dogs they let crap on the sidewalk, and then other people step in it, and then there are long smears down the sidewalk to avoid too?
Does the postman really have to deliver all of our neighbors’ packages to our apartment, just because we’re the only sorry saps who answer the bell?
Could the postman smile? Just once?
Could the notes from the teachers be sent home in simpler German so I don’t have to ask a seven-year-old what I’m signing?
Could my computer stop crashing?
Can I go home now? Please?
See, if I went back to St. Paul, I could straighten out a few things. I could go over to our tax guy’s house and tell him not to be afraid of those documents I sent in German, that really, I probably just attached them to impress him, maybe I just hoped he might think we’re some pretty cool cats to be coping here, I mean, did you see the length of some of those words?
I was just trying to say: We can probably write off some of our Internet costs, because, you know, I’ve been freelancing for a while.
Maybe I’d tell him: When you wrote you “feel that you must resign from this engagement” it kind of made me feel like one of those piles of German dog crap, you know? Maybe you could have offered me a reference to some other tax preparer? I mean, help me out here, we’re in freaking Berlin, and our taxes got a little complicated what with this international move, but it’s peas and corn to you people, isn’t it? It’s a brain aneurysm to me, so help me out here, buddy.
And I could go to the German school in St. Paul and say to our pals there, what do you mean you “have to make that spot available to any other child that would like to enroll” and there is no spot, even though you said there would be? We’ve hosted four interns for this school; bend the rules, people!
Blue Screen of Death. Reboot.
And I could walk over to our daughter’s high school and say, remember when you said you’d keep our kid on the roster for next year? Yeah, I do too! So what happened?
I’m not really saying I want to go home, you know.
Just because I have tears in my eyes when I make a cup of coffee doesn’t mean it was a mistake to come here.
Sniff. Maybe a hug would be nice.