Diary of an Expat, Part 79
American american american
There's no particularly good lessons this week, I don't expect. Some stories.

I ordered some computer parts (a monitor stand — so, not trivially small) late on Thursday (like, eight or nine in the evening late). I was told that they would arrive Saturday, which is fine — that's when I'm home, and thus able to sign for packages. Instead, they arrived Friday. After I had left for work, but not that much after, which means that the computer store was able to get the order processed, shipped, and delivered in about fourteen hours. Not bad!

I became aware of this when I received notice that it had been shipped, checked the tracking number, and discovered that UPS had already given up for the day. The note said that they had made a delivery attempt and would make another one on Monday. I went home quickly (living five minutes away from the office helps) and found no note.

When I got home from work that evening, there was a note, telling me that a) UPS had tried (again?) to deliver the package and b) having given up, left it at a store next door. Which is where I went and picked it up today, which I guess was my original plan. I'm not entirely certain whether I should be happy with the German postal conventions for contriving to deliver something so ridiculously fast, or a little irked that they felt the next best thing was forcing some shopowner to sit on a huge box for a day while I tried to figure out who to believe (I didn't check next door immediately because they were closed).

Not, of course, like the shopkeeper was doing much anyway. When I walked by the shop was notionally open, but the door was closed and a piece of twine was tied across it to a little stopwatch that said "Back in x minutes," where x was counting down. So I did some errands, came back, and found that the timer had been reset. Fortunately, because Germans are quite helpful, he was willing to let me in anyway, but he appeared to just be killing time on his laptop, and returned to YouTube as soon as possible. He did not particularly care about seeing any ID.

Ah well. I'm actually not so bothered. More bothersome today has been the sudden weather reversal: it was gorgeous and warm Friday, when I was working, and then stormed overnight. Today i left my apartment to find a courtyard strewn with cherry blossoms and the temperature ten degrees colder. Very unfortunate!

Next story: I was at the grocery store today, getting some eggs. I was not the only one who had this in mind; I heard a mother ask her child (I presume?) if he wouldn't mind picking her up some as well. This was requested in German; their conversations were all in German and I have no reason to believe it was not a German family.

Particularly as the kid ran around the corner to the egg section, where I was. Then he looked at the egg section, which was pretty much empty (it was late in the evening). Then, being a well-spoken young German lad of six or seven, he settled down on his wheel-endowed shoes and declared: "Holy fucking shit."

Indeed!

Germans learn well from English-speakers. I presume here that what is meant is really Brits, because Americans would never cop to teaching their children phrases like that. Perhaps it is as a result that Americans are unfortunately saddled over here, namely in that the Germans are pretty fond of calling food items "American," but this is an adjective that universally means godawful.

I have seen, thus far:

American peanut butter, which has the consistency of Nutella and tastes like... god, I don't even know. It tastes like something that would be rejected from a Lunchables packet as being insufficiently close to "food."
American bread, which is processed white bread, in loaf form, with the loaf evincing a degree of geometric perfection that I, personally, find improbable.
American macaroni, which is essentially Kraft mac-'n'-cheese but looks a little more depressing — I confess that I find the original vile, so I did not bother to pursue this line of gustatory delight any further than seeing it on the grocery shelves.
American frozen pizza, which I would describe as being notable in its flavorlessness except that, over here, it isn't conspicuously so. But, as an American of some degree or another, I would like to note that while I am not compelled to defend American foreign policy or politics I will say that Americans make a damned good pizza

The latest discovery was a brand of cookies that were labelled both as a) ginger and b) American, and since I have an abiding love of ginger and America I figured I'd roll the dice. Store-bought cookies are generally not particularly good — baked goods aren't like wine, after all; they're best consumed near the source — so you have to manage your expectations.

But "American" cookies turn out to be just run of the mill Pepperidge Farm knockoffs that have been apathetically felt up by ginger at some point in their lives. Oh well.

I think there is some sort of judgment call involved here, like: "Well, we call it this because American food is bland and, let's face it, not very good." But that could only be true if Germans had no sense of irony, which... which...

... Oh.
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