Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Paying the Price

Pound, pound, pound, dig, dig, dig, sweep, sweep, sweep, and all the while talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. This is the second day that they have been at it since 07:30 ... What’s the point of being Arbeitslos (sorry, Arbeitssuchend) if you can’t sleep in? My neighbors have decided to totally revamp the side yard with a new tree, what looks like 100 forsythia-like bushes, and a few paving stones and gravel.

Why this is taking two-plus days, I don’t know. Martha Stewart could have done her entire Connecticut estate in the time my neighbors have spent thus far on what is essentially a mere postage stamp of real estate.

Wait a minute, I figured it out. It’s all the damn talking. Why do these people need to discuss things to death? It’s one thing I do not miss from my professional life. Americans do, Germans discuss. Both approaches have their problems when taken to the extreme, which friends and colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic seem to be very good at.

As for the tree, you would think my neighbors would think twice about that. The last tree sent roots seemingly in only two directions; the villa next door nearly collapsed when the roots tore through its foundation. Our own house has also developed a few cracks as our foundation subsides. But the neighbors must have their shade. Can you say litigation?

The neighbors themselves are an interesting pair: She spends nearly every day sweeping and washing her patio. Makes the replacement tree seem an even odder choice, since it will rain leaves on her patio. Maybe she just missed having something to do every day. He sneezes so loud, and with such a classic “AhhChoo” that it seems like a parody. If he didn’t sneeze so often, I would think it is a ruse, but sneeze he does, loudly and frequently. So the choice of forsythia-like bushes also seems odd. Maybe he just likes to sneeze. Probably covers the sound of her sweeping all day. She is German. He is French.

When they are not filling their primary roles of Sweeper and Sneezer, they also take their turn playing the Garbage police. I have been dutifully separating my garbage since I’ve been here, but I once made the mistake of throwing an old rug in the Restmülltonne once day, and the next thing I know the Partnerin is being called at the office to be informed of this transgression. They also had my office number, but for some reason seemed unable to muster the courage to complain to me.

It seems every move the Ausländer makes is watched, and when he crosses the line, any line, it is the Partnerin who has to pay the piper for choosing to live with him.

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