As someone in the military, I should be the last person to judge the oddities of another cultural entity. Given that many of the things that occur in my day-to-day existence representing the greater military good leave me scratching my head in moderate confusion more evenings than not, I tend to be more focused on the conundrums of my own little world.
However, as I travel around and about Europe, I am beginning to wonder if perhaps the strangeness is being compounded by the environment in which I find myself currently surrounded.
I have mentioned previously that there are certain interesting practices with the businesses and their customer service. I submit as exhibit A the experience I encountered just this afternoon as I was attempting to pinpoint if and when the phone company was finally going to draft the money I owe them from an account, or if they would simply wait a few months and then sue me for everything I have ever owned, currently own, or ever wish to own. They sent me an email several weeks ago informing me that I owed them the equivalent of the soul of a small child for set-up fees and the first month of charges, but that they would draft it from an account which I do have, but with information I don’t remember giving to them. Nearly three weeks later, they had yet to draft the money, and upon further investigation it turned out that they always draft the money at the beginning of the next month but that everything is put into the computer around the middle of each month, resulting in the confusion that thus ensues.
While I was there, I also saw a poor and unsuspecting couple engaged in the familiar battle of When Would Service Become Available. Whereas I had the World Cup to contend with, these fine people were relocating to the post at the beginning of the Bavarian Holiday Season, when everything in the state shuts down for a month because the entirety of Bavaria goes on holiday, or as in the States, vacation. They were suggested to check back sometime next week, because they wouldn’t get service for at least two and a half weeks, if then. And no, no one has any idea if they can even provide service to their home and whether or not a technician will even need to come out. I expressed my sympathies.
But on post and American dealings aren’t the only things that make this place seem a little off. I submit this previous weekend as Exhibit B. I encountered, this weekend, a large and famous one-night-only-annual festival that was cancelled because there was the merest possibility of rain. I encountered a frightening museum about the history of a city which included dollhouse shadow boxes containing misproportioned dolls, to include one set-up with a gigantic baby doll sitting at the head of the table with the rest of the family average doll size and the father doll downstairs appearing to wedge himself between a nightstand and an armoire while the porcelain dog on the tiny rug watched him and wondered what it was he was hiding from. Note that we could not understand the German descriptions, so we were left to make up our own stories about what was happening, which is never a good situation.
The following day I ventured to a nearby city for a music festival,full of German Funk Reggae, some guy who had translated American songs into German and got his buddies to play back-up, as well as a lot of accordians, bagpipes, and flutes on the little side streets. I also saw a man at an ice cream shop in a bright red clown wig, spiked collar neckpiece, black dress and fishnets, as well as a bleached-blond lady in a mostly see-through lace outfit wandering down the road arguing loudly with herself. A few hours later we saw her again sitting on a bench, presumably still carrying on the same argument. We never found out who won. Further up the road in front of the first church I have seen that had full battlements and spots from which one could pour a healthy-sized vat of boiling oil was possibly the most frightening statue I have ever seen. It was of a large rabbit, apparently breaking out of a box. It looked very very angry. There were little rabbits around it. There was a human foot under it. There were what looked like large nails or stakes in its teeth. I saw it again in a nightmare last night. I have no idea what it was supposed to represent. I took a picture because I realized that no one would ever believe such a thing would be on display in a square in front of a church, despite the ramparts overhead.
I think the crowning achievement, however, for the weekend was driving away from the location of the overly-expensive Wagner Festival where, 2000 euros short for a ticket, we took a picture outside and departed, was the man we saw on the all-terrain vehicle heading in the opposite direction. ATV’s are pretty popular around here, and he was all suited up for safety. He had his helmet on, his cotton shirt with a leather jacket, leather boots… and no pants. I am unsure if he had someone at home who could point out the slight fashion faux-pas, and he was a large enough individual that I did not want to be the one to do so, nor do I know how to say, “Excuse me, Sir, but you seem to have forgotten your pants,” in German.
And so the days go on, with us starting to excuse everything that happens as simply being German. I think I should swing by the clinic and see if they can give me something for these pantsless rabbit dreams I have been having of late…