4:49 p.m. - March 28, 2011
Never mind that the cashier in the shop where I bought a bottle of water and two mandarin oranges said, in English, "you don't understand anything" after I plunked down my items on the belt. When I asked if there was a problem he was surprised to hear me speak German but said no, no problem "except you don't know" which he said in English. Don't know what??? The only thing I can think of is that his lane is a produce-free lane but there were no signs as such and is it culturally arrogant of me to roll my eyes at the thought of produce-free checkout lanes? This exchange has bothered me far more than I'd like to admit, simply because it was a dagger in that carefully constructed balloon I play with when I travel abroad - you know, speak the local language, don't stick out as a tourist, do not ever, ever be the ugly American. Phhhht! just like that the clerk undid my pride and arrogance and I'm confused.
Little things like this bother me. Big things like being busted on the train without a valid ticket and being pulled aside by the collector and forced to pay a 40 euro fine - no bother at all. At least that's one lesson I can learn immediately: When in Berlin, get your damn train ticket stamped or pay the steep price. As for German grocery clerks, I'm clueless and will obsess on that for a while. Methinks my priorities are askew.