There’s a lovely German phrase ‘reden mit Händen und Füßen’ which accurately describes the charades-esque attempts to converse between those that can’t use language. Alas, many a time have I invoked an alarmed expression from someone after attempting to sign my meaning but it is not even a possibility on the phone.
Yesterday morning, we get a call from a lovely sounding chap who began the conversation with ‘I have something for you’ – that’s really not so much of an inuendo in German, by the way! After 6/7 minutes, it finally becomes clear that he is selling double glazing. When in England, this would have been an annoyance but answering the phone in Germany is one of my biggest pet hates. With R at work in the day, if I am at home, I can continue with practise etc and pretend I’m not in a foreign country. When I leave the house, I can mentally prepare myself but when the phone rings, it gives me a matter of seconds in which to ‘prepare’. Answering the phone puts a fear into me, unlike anything else requiring German for the simple reason that’s it’s so much harder to communicate in a new language without the use of body language (using one’s hands and feet!). Needless to say, when I feel duped into wasting precious moments of my day, struggling to comprehend the nice man, only to realise he’s been gleefully offering me deals on windows we don’t need, I was angry – with myself more than him, I might add!
Within a minute, the phone rang again and it looked like a similar, if not identical number. I promptly picked up, heard the phrase ‘I have something for you’ and said ‘wir brauchen es nicht, danke’ – we don’t need it, THANKS (some English traits hold firm – infinitely more polite to those we are unhappy with) – and put the phone down.
The phone rings a further 6 times in the next 15 minutes, and all from the same number. I’m outraged. This is basically harassment, no? I call R at the office and he looks up the number – it seems to unattached to a company but reports are equally scam and not so we agree I was right to leave then unanswered.
An hour later, our answering machine calls to tell us we have a new message. I listen to it, and hear the word ‘Fernseher’ (TV). Oh. I have unwittingly told the delivery service that we don’t need the new TV. Of course I call them back and apologise, with an attempt in broken German to explain the call previous to theirs that had made me believe he was trying to sell me windows. Delivery was arranged, but I’m in no doubt that they had previously labelled me ‘The Hausfrau who tried to stop her man buying another TV’. Possibly even more amusing is how persistent they were in the face of this situation. They weren’t going to let the poor ‘Mann’ lose his TV.