Diary of an Expat, Part 66
Miscellanea because I'm tired
I said I was going to write about Nazis, but that didn't happen because I had to go to work today and I no longer feel like expounding on the subject. But I have my notes, so maybe next week? Bother.

I am in a little bit of a cross mood, so I'll probably keep things short and scattered, like toadstools.

It's bloody cold again, which is something I didn't notice until I started biking once more. I'd put biking on hold — outdoor biking at least — because of the snow, at first, but when I needed to get someplace in a hurry I hopped on my Gazelle and reached my destination to discover that my ears were gone. They froze off somewhere around Torstrasse.

What it has not been doing, however, is snowing. Instead, the proper vehicle for cold is apparently making it quite chilly, and dry, whilst remaining overcast enough to remind everyone that snow can come at any moment. Generally this happens in fits and starts, and it falls more absently, like leaves. There is not any snow on the ground, at present. So much for that.

The construction work that dogged my apartment for more than a year ended abruptly and has not resumed. There is still a chain link fence between my courtyard and the neighboring building's, and there's still a portable toilet out front, but nobody is sawing on things at six in the morning. I'm not complaining, exactly, but I'm not sure what stopped them.

If this had a lesson it would be that, as I have said in the past, the notion that Germans are thorough and industrious is one held by people whose knowledge of Germans comes exclusively from Hollywood. Germans, in Berlin at least, are not exactly lazy, but they are pragmatic about things and apparently construction got far enough that they decided to knock it off.

"Eh, I guess" is also the philosophy behind Berlin's perennially upcoming Brandenburg Airport, which got tired of the tedious predictability of opening at a scheduled date in 2012. Indeed, so irked was it at the thought that the airport has decided now to skip 2013 as well; the last paper I read described it as opening "sometime" in 2014. So. You know.

Twice today I was put in a position where I should've needed to show my ID. I received a package and had to sign for it, and I checked into my office, which is manned by a security guard. In both cases, when I handed over my ID they waved me away, saying "no, you do not need this." So there's that thoroughness as well.

Ah well.

It turns out that I lost my debit card in Frankfurt. I have lost my debit card twice now, both in the exact same fashion: coming back from an international trip, jetlagged, putting it into a machine and then forgetting to collect it. Besides myself, I blame the design of the cardreaders. American card-readers tend to be one of two things. Often times, you just swipe them. Or, they eat your card, and when the transaction is done they shove it back out at you.

The ticket stations in Germany work by inserting your card in flush with the edge of the reader, which has a slight cutout big enough for you to take the card in your fingers and pull it back out when you're done. But this means that it's not obvious that you have a card waiting, and they don't provide an indication. And it takes so bloody long to get your ticket printed that it's easy to forget, particularly if you are in a rush.

I know this, because when I mentioned this at work two other people said the same thing had happened to them. The last time it happened, I E-mailed Deutsche Bank and they sent me a new one. This time, they told me that I had to go into a bank office to ask for a new card. When I asked if I needed an appointment, the E-mail I got back from the bank said:

"... you do not need an appointment for this, of course."

Which is, in pretty good German fashion, curt, to the point, and ever so slightly patronizing.

I like it here.
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