I like living in Germany. As a country, it has many things going for it, for example: good health care, 4 to 6 weeks of vacation, really good bread, no speed limit on the highway. But not all things are better in the land of Euros and Volkswagen. Somethings here are just as annoying as on the other side of the pond.
One of my English clients (wow - using the word "client" totally makes me sound like a hooker) cancelled this morning. Thinking that I should make use of the morning, I decided to get some Hausfrau stuff done. So far I have changed the sheets on the bed, done the dishes, and put in a load of laundry (have I mentioned that I do laundry all the freaking time!). I am pooped. It is time for a nap.
In the middle of changing the sheets, the telephone rang. The caller id read "anonymous." This is like an "out of area" call in the States, which means one thing - telemarketer. I normally do not answer "anonymous" calls, but earlier this week one of my English clients (once again I feel like a hooker) called to cancel, and his call came up "anonymous." So I took a chance.
There is an important German telephone etiquette rule that you must know. When you answer the phone, you must say your name. I do not like this. I am used to the American, "Hello." I still say that on occasion. Once . . .
Telephone rings at my house. I answer it.
Angry, offended German: Who is this?
Claire: You called me. Who is this?
Anyway, today I decided to play by the German telephone rules and answered the phone with my name. The response, "Good morning. This is _____ with _____." Crap a telemarketer. Not just any telemarketer though. This was the telephone company. I knew they were calling because two month ago we switched our service in order to get a faster internet connection. I have not noticed a difference in speed, but the German has, and he is the expert in all things computer. The German has been complaining about the telephone company because they have called SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK EVERY WEEK FOR TWO MONTHS trying to get us to switch back.
I do not like to offend telemarketers. They are just people trying to do a job. Although I do not want any part of what they are selling, I do not want to give them a hard time. My mother just hangs up. One of my more morbid friends always says, "This is her mother. _______ died yesterday."
Today I figured out the perfect thing to say to a German telemarketer.
Claire: Hello. Claire ______.
Telemarketer: Is the man of the house there?
Telemarketer: Is this his wife?
(I realized she had no idea who I was. I kept my name when I got married.)
Claire: No. Me no wife. Me clean woman. (in my best American accented German)
Telemarketer: I WILL CALL BACK LATER. (speaking very loudly and slowly)
It totally worked. Sometimes being a foreigner has its advantages here . . .
Oh, before I forget. My friend Carrie left a post on my last blog about how the Germans may be indeed out to get me. My husband read the comment and wanted me to respond, "Please do not feed into her paranoia, Carrie. She is difficult enough to live with as it is."