I thought I should share this latest anecdote as it perfectly sums up my growth in confidence and the resulting fauxpahs!
It’s been a couple of months, now, of buying free range Bavarian eggs from the supermarket and as we’re living in quite a rural part of Bavaria, I started to wonder if there was a neighbour that had hens. One often sees signs for honey/eggs and other garden produce at the side of the road but the nearest to our house was seemingly a good 10/15 mins cycle away from us and therefore further away than the supermarket (and the route involves a junction that I hate – remember I’m still a beginner on a bike!).
I decided to ask my next door neighbour, as even if my German is intelligible, her English is pretty good. It so happens that it’s pouring with rain on that particular morning but as she lives the other side of our garage, I brave it, coatless. Alas, she’s not home and my neighbours opposite us are just returning home. I say alas, as they are really lovely but neither speaks English. Communications, from the off, have been difficult. Of course, we say hello and a conversation is struck up but I put the ‘egg’ question away. I get told off for not wearing a coat in the rain but she wants to show me what they picked up from the shops. There’s compost and a few new herbs or vegetables (I didn’t recognise them and I certainly didn’t recognise their German names) for her greenhouse. I do recognise that she’s growing greens, and we’re both visibly relieved to have understood one another.
With this to boost my confidence, I brave the topic of eggs. Do any of our neighbours sell eggs, I ask. They both have a think, and say maybe they have some. Odd, I think, as one surely knows if one has hens or not. Then I ask if I can buy eggs somewhere near to here, if not a close neighbour., When I finally understand the directions they give me, I realise it’s to the supermarket that I already use. I say that I normally go there but wondered if there was a neighbour closer by.
At the end of perhaps 10 minutes, it becomes clear that what I really asked is if I can buy any eggs from neighbours without explaining the bit about them having hens, and therefore extra eggs. Without this, I now see, vital snippet, they came to the conclusion that I simply didn’t want to cycle in the rain and was prepared to raid my neighbours’ larders to avoid it.
They were so generous as to offer me a lift with them whenever it is bad weather! The whole part about a neighbour having hens was omitted by me because of my terrible German (and hope that it was obvious) but no, this English woman was suspected of being such a delicate flower, that on bad weather days, she couldn’t possibly brave the cycle to the supermarket.
Though ultimately a failure, it has made me even more determined to learn German as fast as possible. With such lovely and open people surrounding us here, (especially considering it’s extra and unnecessary effort for them to try and communicate with me) I look forward to the day when I’m able to enjoy these peoples’ company fully, and to a day when I’m not misrepresenting myself!