Summer in the land of expats often means going home. Many families pack up and head to their home country for a few months. Oh it sounds like fun but it can be a costly and tiring few months. The cost of renting a house and car add up very fast, so you can imagine how thrilled I was this year when a friend from California suggested a "house swap"! Really, a "house swap" I thought...somehow I felt like we were getting the better end of this deal with sunny California and all! We agreed, firmed up dates, and swapped instructions on how to run things in said house.
Her email on her house was great. 7-8 lines about locking doors and running the pool, easy...after all I had lived in an American house before. I on the other hand, wrote her a thesis on the runnings of our German house! It was scary, the blinds alone could cause a grown man's blood pressure to rise a few points, not to mention the trash...oh dear God, the trash! Had she received her Master's Degree in Recycling before this trip? If she hadn't, she would have some studying to do! And, the washing machine, oh let me just apologize to her now for that whole experience!
One topic I barely touched on in my thesis, was the grocery store. I mentioned that there were bags in the trunk of my car, and to make sure that they had a coin if they wanted a shopping cart, but how could I prepare this poor, unexpecting family for the comments that were sure to come their way? Would they cry like I had the first time the checker threw their items on the floor? Or how about when someone commented on the large amount of groceries in their cart...oh yes, this really happened; An elderly gentleman followed me down the dairy aisle asking me;
"Warum gibt es so viel sum Essen?" Why so much food?
"Viel ich Hunger habe!" Because I am hungry!
"Nein, Sie sind Americanerin!" No, you are American!
Seriously, did he just say this? Oh, yes he did!
I woke up last night at 2:00 a.m. in a state of panic that this would ruin their European holiday, I had visions of them showing up at their own doorstep and telling me to find a new place to stay, the game was over! Now, I'm sure that the Tylenol PM, the Vodka and tonic and the jet lag may have had something to do with my dream but I wanted to write this blog to give them just as few pointers as I feel I left them a little "high and dry" on the grocery side of the thesis! So here is wishing you the best as you head into the land of Aldi dear, sweet home swap family for I am off to read magazines at the checkout, have someone bag my groceries and enjoy the small talk with the cashier!