Today was a beautiful day in Cloppenburg. It did not rain. The sun came out. The thermometer broke 70, AND my client cancelled his English lesson for the day. I am telling you, it was enough to make a girl giddy.
The German and I went into town and ate our first ice cream of the season. It was a million calories, and I loved every minute of it. We were walking around town and I was cursing that I did not bring my camera. I promise many pictures of Cloppenburg to come.
In an effort to be a good businesswoman, I said, "Schatz, let's go by my office just to see if Nice German Customer faxed me the rest of the placement tests." I should have listened to the voice in my head: "Danger Wil Robinson! Never go to the office when you are enjoying the first nice spring afternoon of the year."
We got to the office and the fax machine was out of paper. I put more in and as it was printing out the last page of the fax, it stopped. The thing was out of ink. (I swear that damn fax machine is quickly replacing the washing machine as the bane of my existence!) I looked at my watch. It was 6:00pm. "Normal" working hours in Germany go until 8:00pm. But this Cloppenburg, and anything but normal. I knew I needed a new ink cartridge that evening in order to make sure I had the entire fax and could speak with my customer in the morning. I gave the German my "Please don't hate me" look. He sighed and he put on his coat. We would have to drive the 30 minutes to Oldenburg to go to Staples.
The drive was actually very pleasant. We kept commenting on how the trees, seemingly over night, sprouted leaves and turned green. To get to Oldenburg from Cloppenburg, you have to take a two lane county road to the main highway. Usually you only have to spend about 10 minutes on the county road. But spring has finally come to Cloppenburg. And that means only one thing . . . shit.
No, seriously, the farmers have dragged out the manure in order to get the fields ready for planting season. (I have heard bickering in town about how the corn should have been in the ground last week. Do not complain to me about this. Your insight is lost on a city girl like me.) Planting season means more tractors on the roads and more Guellemachine. If you get stuck behind one of these things on the county road, your 10 minute trip becomes 20.
"Claire, what's a 'Guellemachine'?" I am glad you asked.
"Guelle" is the German word for manure. A "Guellemachine" looks like a gas transporter. Farmers drive it around their fields to distribute the manure. It looks kind of like this:
I teach English to many companies that make farming equipment. It was inevitable that one day one of my students would ask me, "Claire, what is 'Guellemachine' in English?"
They asked ME . . . the city girl . . . the girl who is amazed by the size of sheep's balls . . . the girl who studied political science.
"I have no idea. "Shit machine" maybe? "The Shitter?""
Yup. That is probably why I never became an official UN translator.