communication, dogs, Germany, social media

No need to shoot the messenger…

This post could just as easily work in my travel blog, but I am currently working on my latest travel series, and I don’t want to break it up with this post. Also, I like to keep things as non-controversial as possible on that blog. This post could wind up being contentious.

I currently live in Germany. I live here courtesy of Bill’s employment. He’s a retired Army officer who found work here after he finished his Army career. I had wanted to come back to Germany because we had to leave early when Bill was last posted here with the Army. He was actually posted to Germany with the Army twice, but we didn’t know each other during his first stint, which was back in the late 1980s. Anyway, even though I had wanted to move back here to Germany, I didn’t bank on us doing that. I actually had expected us to buy a house– probably in Texas– and settle there. In retrospect, I thank God that didn’t happen. My opinion of Texas has taken a huge tumble since 2014.

When we moved here in 2014, I never expected we’d still be here in 2022. Granted, yes, we did move from Stuttgart from Wiesbaden… and although I was a bit angsty about the move in 2018, I’m now very grateful we moved. Moving helped me make some changes in my Facebook habits. I quit following most of the military groups, for instance. I have found that it’s given me a lot more peace.

For many reasons, I don’t really fit in with the military crowd, even though I was raised by an Air Force officer and have spent my whole life around military folks. I tend to have more liberal political leanings. I am older, and don’t have children. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. I have several college degrees, which isn’t necessarily a rarity among today’s military spouses, but having a lot of formal education is less common than it is common. A lot of people, especially in the military community, find me obnoxious or annoying. I suspect it’s because a lot of them have trouble dealing with strong and/or opinionated women, especially when the women are also formally educated, and especially when they are professionals. It is what it is.

Last night, I witnessed a professional woman working in the military community being berated. It was kind of a perfect storm– a woman who is passionate about her work as a professional dog trainer was trying to do a good thing. She ended up upsetting someone, who– I think– got his panties in a huge wad over something that, in the grand scheme of things, had little to do with him. The dog trainer really did appear to be trying to do the right thing, and the guy she inadvertently upset took her comments very personally and made a big stink. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in Facebook groups that involve the military, although in this case, I don’t think the man involved was ever in the military. However, he was kind of acting like some of the worst offenders in some of the military groups.

As we all know, it’s holiday time. That means a lot of people are wanting to travel. For those of us who have pets, travel can be difficult, especially when it involves flying to the US or other parts of the world. Many people in the US military community have limited incomes or want to travel on a whim. These two things can make them inadvertently break German laws regarding dog ownership. A lot of Americans will ask for people to come to their homes to feed and walk their dogs, rather than boarding them, or having the dog stay with someone, or having someone stay at their home. While this is not something I would ever feel comfortable doing myself, I know a lot of people in the States are perfectly okay with this arrangement. However– it’s against German law to leave dogs alone for hours on end.

A couple of people in our local pet group posted requests for people to come let their dogs out and feed them. The dog training lady, who is American but has lived in Germany for years, pointed out that simply having people come to the house to feed and walk the dog is illegal here. On one post, the original author was grateful for the clarification and open to suggestions. But then there was another post. See below:

hello! I will be in the States Dec 5-9.

We need someone to come take our dogs out to the enclosed yard DEC 6/7/8/9 to poop and pee and get some loving around 12n 1300 each day. (30min or so). We live in

Nothing more than inside playing with the 3 and making sure all

go out into the yard for pee & poo

The dog trainer lady, understandably, thought this was yet another solicitation for someone to just come over to feed and toilet the dogs. So she left a comment.

HBB= home based business. I also agree that the initial post made it sound like no one else would be home. I have a degree in English, so I don’t think I have an issue understanding grammar. A lot of people in the military community don’t have both spouses working and would travel together. This gent obviously doesn’t have a household like that, but that wasn’t clear from the initial post.

So anyway, the dog trainer lady then made a general “blast” announcement. She didn’t call out anyone specific in her post, and what she wrote wasn’t incorrect. See below:

Hello everyone,

I have met the most amazing dog owners who I work with in this community and I think the majority are absolutely wonderful.

However, as a professional dog trainer and behaviourist, it’s important that I try to inform as many dog/pet owners as possible that it is very unhealthy and cruel to leave your dogs alone at your home when you are out of town. It is not enough to just have someone stop by to let them out and feed them!

There are other options to board or have someone stay at your home if you plan enough ahead.

The gentleman who got upset with the trainer for misunderstanding his situation apparently felt “seen” and shamed. So, amid the people who were praising the trainer for her informative post, he added his own comment.

Oh wow. 

READ MY POST and use the grammar you learned in school. 

We have lived in Germany over 6 years. 

We know how to take care of our dogs and again, anyone can look at my original post and detect the difference between “I will be gone” and “We need help”

We are not stupid. 

Get a life.

I don’t quite understand why it was necessary to get this pissy over the dog trainer’s post. She didn’t specifically call the guy out, and there have been multiple requests in the group for people to come to community members’ homes and take care of their animals without actually staying over. Moreover, what the trainer wrote isn’t wrong. If someone feels “seen” or “judged” by what she wrote, maybe they should take a look at themselves… or realize that sometimes your actual meaning will get lost in what you write in a Facebook post, even when you do your best to be clear (which I don’t think this fellow did). It doesn’t mean someone is stupid or uneducated, nor does it warrant “shooting the messenger”. They had a miscommunication. It happens. That doesn’t require acting like your sandy undies are lodged way up your ass.

I felt the need to leave a comment, so I did… and I have to admit, I was a little nervous in doing so, because people tend to think I’m “uppity” or whatever. This was my comment:

I don’t think she’s calling out anyone specific. It’s pretty common for some folks in the military community to leave their dogs at home and just have people come by. It’s not an uncommon practice in the US, and some people just do what they always do at home.

I’ve lived in Stuttgart and Wiesbaden for ten years total, and I have seen people do this in both places. There’s no need to take things personally or shoot the messenger. The fact is, she’s right. It’s not legal to leave your dog alone for hours. She’s not wrong to point it out. Maybe her post will help prevent someone getting in trouble with their neighbors, landlord, the police, or all three. 

It’s also not legal to spank your kids here, but mention that in a military group and see how quickly things go south! 

Other people left comments lamenting how expensive and difficult it is to find appropriate pet sitters for when they want or need to travel. I totally understand that. To one lady who commented on that issue, I wrote this story:

I get it, however, there is another solution to this wanting to travel/lack of pet care situation. When we lived in Stuttgart the first time, we used a boarding facility that was fabulous. In the five years we were gone, the lady who made it fabulous left. A new person, who was nice but not very competent, came on board.

It didn’t take long before that facility, which had once been highly regarded, fell into severe disrepute. My husband actually knew a guy whose dog DIED in their care. I knew someone whose dog got hurt and had to be euthanized. Other people’s dogs got very sick because they didn’t take care of them properly. This was especially true for any dog that needed medications, or other special care. Lots of people, understandably, quit booking there. 

So we switched facilities, as did a lot of other people. That led to having to book our spots ages in advance, if we were going on a cruise or somewhere on a plane. 

You know what we did? We started bringing our dogs with us. It was pretty great, too, because we found places we never would have gone to if we hadn’t brought our dogs. One of my favorite vacation memories is of a rabbit and snail farm in rural France. It was a really cool place with alpacas, goats, horses, and an awesome donkey named Antoine. We never would have gone there if not for our dogs coming with us. We had a great time, and so did our dogs. One of those dogs is now at the Rainbow Bridge, but I have great memories of him in France with us and the awesome donkey. 

Last week, we went to Ribeauville for the sixth time to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Why? Because one of our dogs is currently having chemo and I didn’t want him to be boarded. But I still wanted to celebrate our milestone anniversary. So he and our other dog— a mammoth sized street dog from Kosovo who takes up the whole back end of our Volvo— came with us. It was the Kosovo dog’s first trip, but I knew where we were going was very pet friendly. We went, had a great time, and our chemo dog got care from us, while the street dog finally learned to poop on the leash.

Pet boarding is always going to be tough. It’s not as bad here as it was in Stuttgart, when that place went into disrepute. When it comes down to it, though, it’s our responsibility as pet owners. The lovely thing about Europe is that, if need be, you can take them with you. And if anyone wants the link for where we stayed in Ribeauville, just let me know. The landlord is VERY pet friendly and his wife won’t let him have a dog.

She wrote that she has a very large dog, so she can’t travel with the dog so easily. I get that… and I understand that sometimes situations and circumstances lead people to adopt dogs that might be hard to travel with due to their breed, size, or other issues. But when it comes down to it, it’s our responsibility as dog owners to follow the laws. Many Germans, especially in military towns, already think Americans are irresponsible pet owners. The practice of leaving dogs alone for an excessive number of hours (more than five) doesn’t help repair that image. I do empathize, though. Especially when someone is single and has a dog, but has to work a lot. I am home almost all the time, and in all of the German villages where I’ve lived, someone has commented on my dogs’ barking. The most recent comment came from my next door neighbor’s mother, who is also a neighbor. They have a labrador who barks all the time, too.

Other people tried to diffuse the situation a bit. But the guy who was pissed at the trainer wasn’t moved, as you can see below.

Actually, she didn’t call him irresponsible. She said the practice of leaving a dog home alone while you vacation is cruel and irresponsible. And it is. But he hadn’t yet clarified his situation when she posted that comment. Then she advised him to be clearer about his situation, which obviously really upset him.

I would have thought that this would be the end of the spat, but no… the guy posted again– another separate post about how insulted he was by the situation.

Thank you for everyone who responded to my post about needing someone to visit & play with OUR dogs for MY trip to the states the first week of December.

WE have found someone who can take OUR 3 doggies out for the days I will not be in town and my partner can’t make it home during the day.

SO unfortunate others weren’t able to read my intent in my original post but I’m thrilled with those that stepped up to help. Whilst my initial punctuation was not correct, my grammar was.

Oh, and again, HBB business owners should never try and insult potential clients publicly. Get your facts straight before you call pet owners irresponsible.

Have a great night all!

Mmm’kay… well, I don’t know about how this came across to other people, but I don’t think the dog trainer was insulting him, personally. She was criticizing the practice of leaving dogs home alone for too many hours, which many Americans are guilty of doing. Here’s another post that appeared last night, as proof:

Please delete if not allowed but there has been hours of what sounds like 2 dogs barking and crying. This is not the first time this has happened (last time it occurred all night until 730am). The barking is coming from the area surrounding the playground at the top of Arizona/Virginia/Texas Strasse. As much as it is loud and makes it hard to sleep, I am genuinely concerned for these dogs.

It’s 12:50 am right now.

The dog trainer obviously didn’t know the guy from Adam when he first posted, and his initial post wasn’t that clear that someone would be home at night. But he took what she wrote as a personal insult, when it probably wasn’t meant that way at all. And then he turned into a proper jerk with the above comments in a follow up post, highlighting his grammar as if people are intellectually delayed and need the emphasis. I didn’t write this thought in his post, because I have no interest in engaging with someone that thin skinned, but my response to him would be that I would hope a dog trainer running a home based business in Germany would care enough to know the local laws regarding dog ownership and point them out, even if potential clients are “offended” or insulted. And honestly, I would not want this guy as a client, because he obviously has a pretty short fuse and is unreasonable. There was no need for this situation to blow up in the way it did. Imagine his reaction if something were to go wrong when he hires someone to take care of his dogs. He’s probably very litigious. He would not have liked Max, our sitter in Stuttgart, who was very free about lecturing us, sometimes unnecessarily. Yes, it was annoying and kind of insulting at the time, but he wasn’t wrong to do it. He had our dogs’ welfare in mind, which is a quality I highly regard in someone who makes their living taking care of or training dogs.

Should the dog trainer been a little more careful about her comment being seen as an accusation? Maybe… because obviously, some people are going to take offense when none is really intended. He clarified the situation, and she recommended that he add that to his original post so people wouldn’t make erroneous assumptions. He could have just done that and been done with the drama. Instead, he chose to get really offended and go on the warpath, insulting the dog trainer by insinuating that she’s uneducated. In the process, I learned a lot about him that wasn’t very flattering. He’s evidently a very rude person, which is interesting, given that according to his profile, he’s made his living in customer service.

What makes this worse is that someone else piled on with the pissy guy, agreeing that the dog trainer was “shaming” and lording her profession over “parents of fur babies”, who love their dogs but don’t always follow host nation rules. It’s the same kind of shit I’ve gotten in a lot of military groups, because as a woman and a “dependa”, I am supposed to just shut up and color, rather than express an opinion or be myself. I think the person who made the comment about being a parent of fur babies is someone who has bought into the mindset that no one should claim to be an expert, because it makes them feel inferior. Seriously… this is a thing in military communities. People get threatened by professionals and/or educated people, especially when the person who is educated is a woman. Military communities tend to be quite sexist.

I really didn’t think the dog trainer was “condemning” anyone in her “blast” post. Her comment to the pissy guy was a little less friendly, but my guess that came from the frustration of seeing a bunch of people asking for drop by dog sitting, rather than having someone stay with the dogs. Granted, she misinterpreted his initial post, but I can see how that happened. His initial post wasn’t absolutely clear. I got the same impression the dog trainer did.

To be clear– the original poster– the pissy guy– does not appear to be military affiliated. But his adversarial attitude is one that is very common in military groups. It’s not productive. And it added fuel to a post that, in my opinion, really should not have been controversial at all. Instead of just leaving a reasonable response and extending some grace, he got very offended by what he saw as a stranger insulting him. The woman who sided with pissy guy is still arguing about what the local laws are. She insists that dogs aren’t to be left alone, crated. I can tell her that the Germans in my neighborhood don’t hesitate to say something when dogs are howling, even if they, themselves, have dogs that howl and bark. 😉 It doesn’t matter if the dog is crated. If your dog is making a lot of noise and you have uptight neighbors, you might wind up hearing from the police. So knowing and heeding the laws is a good practice, even if it’s not what you’d do at home in America. And if a professional dog trainer doesn’t know, and/or isn’t advocating for following the laws, that’s a much bigger issue than “insulting” or offending potential clients. Just my opinion. 😉

Anyway… this kind of ridiculous crap is why I now avoid military affiliated Facebook groups, except for the one I run… which doesn’t tend to be very controversial, since it’s about food and wine. But even in that group, sometimes I have to clean house.

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communication, condescending twatbags, dogs, Germany

Pre-emptive and defensive bitchiness is not the best advertising strategy…

This morning, as I was waking up to a brand new day, I scanned Facebook and noticed a post by someone in the local pet group. She has a ten year old Jack Russell terrier that she wishes to rehome. She wrote that the dog is good with kids and other animals, but has allergies that require medication. Fair enough. But then I saw the last sentence of her ad, and it kinda gave me pause…

We are looking to re-home our 10 year old Jack Russell terrier. She is great with kids and other animals (we have two cats and two children). She is house trained and super sweet. She does have allergies and requires medication. Gets motion sickness in cars. And please don’t pass judgement if you don’t know the reason why she is being rehomed. I don’t have to explain my reasons and get approval from anyone.

Um… first of all, people are going to pass judgment, and they are going to infer things. You can’t avoid it, even if you say “please”. And secondly, when you pre-emptively leave a defensive comment like “I don’t have to explain my reasons and get approval from anyone,” you kind of put off a difficult, bitchy vibe. I would hesitate to contact the person who wrote this post, because based only on that post, she doesn’t seem like a pleasant person. She’s asking people to consider taking in a dog who is already ten years old and has a couple of issues. She’s the one who is asking— other people aren’t necessarily clamoring to take the dog. In the long run, she may actually be doing someone a huge favor by offering them her dog, but at this point, she’s the one who needs help. She should probably consider that fact and behave accordingly.

I’m sure she has good reasons for rehoming the dog. I truly do try not to judge people who need to find new homes for their pets, unless they are egregious assholes about it. Every single one of our dogs in the past twenty years is with us because they were rehomed. And every single one of them has been wonderful, unique, and loving. Each one has enriched our lives immeasurably and taught us new things. We’re better off for having shared life with them.

I don’t consider someone inherently bad or guilty simply because they can’t take care of a pet. Shit happens. Sometimes, rehoming an animal is the kindest and most responsible thing a person can do. But when a person ends their request to rehome a pet with a pre-emptively defensive statement, it’s a bit of a turnoff. I don’t think it helps her case.

On the other hand, I can understand why someone would make a pre-emptively defensive statement like that one. People– especially in our overseas military community– can be immature and judgmental. Drama erupts for the stupidest of reasons, and that can have terrible effects on one’s mental health and self-worth. Believe me, I know about this firsthand. But if you’re asking someone to take your ten year old dog with allergies off your hands, and you leave a hostile statement demanding that people don’t “judge” you before you explain yourself, you kind of ask people to judge. And believe me, they will… whether you like it or not. But maybe some will skip leaving rude comments, even if they’re thinking them, or blogging about them. 😉

I’m not in the market for a new dog at this point. We still have Arran and Noyzi, although Arran will likely be crossing the Rainbow Bridge before too long. I don’t know when, or even if, we’ll be looking for a new dog. Given that we don’t know when we’ll be leaving Germany, and the high costs and hassles of moving pets, we may decide that one dog is enough for now. But if I were looking to take in a new dog, I would probably see red flags in the above ad. Because I think if you’re asking someone to take in another living creature, you really need to be upfront and honest about why you need to rehome them. And your attitude should be one of hopefulness, rather than defensiveness.

We had an experience about nineteen years ago with a woman who had found a cute little hunting beagle on the side of a country road. She named him Flea (after Fleagle, the dog in Banana Splits), and offered him for adoption through a beagle rescue in Northern Virginia. This woman lived near Richmond, Virginia, so the dog she was offering for adoption wasn’t really known by the people at the rescue, who were mostly in the DC area and Maryland.

Flea had been found in Chester County, very flea and tick infested and sick with heartworms and Lyme Disease. The rescue had given the woman money to treat Flea for his infestations. She had gotten the Lyme Disease treated, and had the first part of the heartworm treatment done– a labor intensive affair that required an overnight stay at a vet hospital and a month of crate rest. However, she neglected to bring him back for the second part of the treatment. She never told us that she didn’t get the second part of the treatment done. That was totally shitty on her part, since the second part of heartworm treatment is a lot less painful and invasive than the second part is. It just consists of the dog taking a big dose of ivermectin, or a similar drug, to kill off any baby worms that survived the first part of the treatment. My guess is that she was either too busy, or needed the money for her own purposes. Sad for Flea, and for us.

We adopted Flea, and at the time, we were pretty broke ourselves. We did have him tested for heartworms, and the test was positive, but the vet said that sometimes dogs might still have positive results right after they get treated. She wasn’t concerned, so we didn’t worry about it.

We still have that couch, complete with stains made by Flea when he had cancer.

After we’d had him for a few months, we decided that Flea badly needed a dental. And he REALLY did– his teeth and his BREATH were atrocious– when he finally got a cleaning, four teeth fell out completely on their own. Fortunately, the vet tech at the hospital where we were going to have the dental done noticed that there was no record of his ever completing heartworm treatment. She called the animal hospital where the first part of the treatment was done, and they verified that the treatment was never completed. Sure enough, he was still very infested with heartworms. Going under anesthesia to have his teeth cleaned could have killed him.

Flea and MacGregor loved Germany, too.

We tried to contact the woman who had rescued Flea. She ghosted us. We contacted the rescue. Bill, who is usually very mild mannered, was very upset. We had just lost our first rescue dog, who came from the same rescue, to a mysterious and rare mycobacterial infection. We’d only had him for sixteen months when he died. Now here was Flea, heartworm positive, and us with no money to get him treated. We had been led to believe that Flea was cured, and now we felt “lied to” by this rescue. I think our vet quoted us about $850 for treatment, which at the time was prohibitively expensive for us. Bill was extremely pissed, and understandably so.

Fortunately, the rescue was willing to pay for Flea to be treated at their usual vet hospital, located some distance from where we lived. They were wonderful about coordinating the treatment, and we got him all fixed up.

Flea and MacGregor in Germany, circa 2008 or so. Flea is the one not looking at the camera.

We had Flea for six years, and he was an awesome character who was even more temperamental and crotchety than our sweet Arran is. Flea was certainly difficult at times, but I adored him, and I never once regretted taking him into our home. We brought Flea to Germany the first time we lived here, and he helped us break the ice with our neighbors, because he loved their toddler aged son. He was exceptionally good with children; especially little boys. One day, he saw their child and moaned as he strained to go meet the child. That was when they started talking to us! Flea was a true canine ambassador. Their little boy even named his stuffed dog “Flea”.

Flea and MacGregor with Bill in our first German house, back in 2008 or so.

I think Flea would have lived longer if he hadn’t had untreated heartworms for so long. Ultimately he got prostate cancer, which was diagnosed by our old vets in Herrenberg (Germany), and like Arran, he proved to be quite a fighter, lasting four months with just palliative care. We brought him back to the US with us, and he died two months later in Georgia. A month after that, we adopted Zane, whom some of you know. But imagine what Flea could have achieved if his heart hadn’t been damaged, or the woman who rescued him had leveled with us and, at least, told us that he’d only been partially treated for heartworms. We could have had him treated sooner, and he might have been with us for longer than six years.

God, I miss these two… they were such characters! MacGregor, in particular, was a star!

I’m not saying that the person offering up her dog is definitely or deliberately being dishonest. She probably has perfectly valid and reasonable reasons for rehoming her dog. But making a comment like, “I don’t have to explain, and I don’t need approval” makes me think she might not be as honest as she should be, and has an attitude that might make asking about the dog difficult. That could mean unpleasant surprises, like the one we discovered in Flea. Or worse, maybe she’s the type to smile as she hands you the leash, then ghosts you when problems arise. While pre-emptively making a statement to forestall negative comments and judgment is understandable, especially in the military community, it also raises some red flags that would warn me to steer clear. Just sayin’.

Aside from that, there are already enough unpleasant interactions to be found on social media. I don’t need to have one in person, too. I think those who know us, know that we try to take really good care of our dogs. But I wouldn’t contact someone whose very first communication to me is one that is bitchy and defensive, even if it’s a post for everyone to read. I would hope this lady would consider that protecting her ego is less important than finding a really excellent home for her dog to spend her last years, hopefully never to need rehoming again. It’s the least she can do.

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animals, Germany

The Black Forest is a dream…

I’m stopping in for a quick post before we head off to Stuttgart to see the dentist. We arrived in Baiersbronn yesterday, after dropping off Noyzi and Arran at the dog hotel. Noyzi was very excited to be there and even banged on the gate with his paw. He loves the lady who takes care of him when we travel. I expected Arran to be upset about staying there, but he didn’t seem to upset. He likes Natasha, the caretaker. They’re in good hands. With all luck, we’ll get through the weekend unscathed.

For now, I am really enjoying the beauty of Baiersbronn, and the insanely delicious food at the Bareiss Hotel. Yes, it’s costing us a mint, but it’s so nice to get away. A change of scenery has done good things for my morale. I even made a new friend at the hotel’s petting zoo.

I love the goat. That’s saying a lot, given how many years I showed horses.

I’ll probably write a longer post when I don’t have somewhere else to be. For now, I just wanted to check in, for those who are interested. We got here safely, and it’s a pleasure to be back in the Black Forest. I hope anyone in the US reading this and facing Hurricane Ian is safe. I don’t miss dealing with hurricanes at all!

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Bill, funny stories, Germany, modern problems, politics, technology

“Will you RELAX?!” knotty gets a rare phone call, causing unfounded alarm…

Last night, as I was disassembling my latest completed puzzle project and preparing to start the next one, my Apple Watch started ringing. I wasn’t expecting a phone call. Indeed, almost no one calls me, ever. But I answered the call anyway, since it looked like it came from a Washington, DC number.

Just finished last night! Hilarious musician Paul Thorn’s second limited edition puzzle is based on a beauty queen drag show his dad held at their Mississippi church in the early 80s. Paul was the winner.

A rather awkward sounding man asked for me by name. I told him he was speaking to me. It turned out he was from Democrats Abroad, an organization that encourages Americans who live overseas to vote blue. He wanted to make sure I had an absentee ballot coming. I assured him I did. He started reading off information I had obviously input when I connected with this organization some months ago. I probably did it because I was so eager to get a ballot. There have been years when we’ve received them too late.

Bill came into the room and immediately looked very suspicious. He kept mouthing “SCAM” at me while wringing his hands. I was annoyed with him, and quietly asked him to relax. He continued to stand there, frowning and shaking his head, urging me not to talk to this man from Democrats Abroad who had a barely detectable German accent, but otherwise spoke perfect English.

I verified my information with the guy, who was rattling off where we had previously lived in the United States and my phone number. I was pretty confident that this dude was who he said he was, especially since the call had come from a DC phone number. He verified that I had requested my ballot and lamented that the mail might be too slow. I didn’t mention to him that I would be using the APO system to receive and send the ballots, rather than German mail. Then the guy said maybe Texas would let us vote by email. Honestly, I don’t remember if we can do that, but I’ll do that if it’s allowed.

Bill still looked suspicious, and it was really distracting me, and making it hard to follow the conversation with the caller, so I suddenly snapped at him “Will you relax?!”

The guy I was talking to was obviously startled, and said “Are you talking to me?”

I laughed and said, “No, I’m sorry; I was talking to my husband.”

He sighed with relief and said, “That’s good. I do get nervous when I make these calls.”

“I’m really sorry.” I said. “I do appreciate your call.” I can’t blame him for getting nervous, either. I think I would hate to have to call strangers and talk to them about voting. It’s a step or two higher than telemarketing or fundraising for colleges.

The guy said he was calling us from the Harz mountains, which are near Thuringia. I then surmised he must be a German local calling on behalf of Democrats Abroad, somehow using a DC phone number. Perhaps he’s just employed by them, or maybe he’s a dual citizen, as our half American dentist was for years before he finally went with full on German citizenship. I guess he was tired of paying taxes to two countries. Can’t blame him for that. Or, maybe it’s a German who works for Democrats Abroad, because Germans don’t want to see Donald Trump or his minions getting back into power– even though some of Trump’s (reluctant) relatives live in Rheinland-Pfalz, not so far from where we live.

We finished our call on a courteous note, and the caller gave me one last encouragement to vote in November, which I can hardly wait to do. I was amused that he wished me and my “relaxing husband” a pleasant evening. Then, after we ended our call, I looked at Bill and said, “I appreciate your concern, but you know, I can handle my own business.”

Bill agreed, then explained that he thought the caller was a scammer because he thought the man had sounded nervous, and he had encountered such a caller in Texas who had turned out to be a scammer. I love that Bill is protective sometimes, but this was not a situation that called for it. At the same time, I feel kind of amused, yet sorry, for that poor guy who thought I was yelling at him to relax. He probably won’t forget that call he made to me. He must have had an immediate reaction to hearing me snarl at Bill.

As for me, I’m struck once again at how little use I have for the phone anymore. I used to use it daily. Now, it’s a surprise when I get a phone call, and when I do get one, most of the time I get it through my watch, and it gets broadcasted to everyone in the room. Same thing goes for my car, which I used to drive regularly… now it sits in the garage for weeks. Now that I think about it, Caller ID is now kind of obsolete, since so many people use computers to call others. Ditto to the phone book. Who uses those anymore, unless they’re total luddites? I feel like I’m in the Jetsons Age. I was about to write that I “hung up” the phone, but now I realize that I didn’t even do that. Who hangs up the phone anymore?

Ah well. Yes, I plan to vote absentee, and as soon as possible. My fingers are itching to cast a vote against the vile and deplorable Greg Abbott, whom I hope gets wheeled out of Austin as soon as humanly possible. So that Democrats Abroad dude doesn’t have to worry at all. I WILL be voting, and praying for a blue wave to wash out the extremists who are taking over the country with their anti-women views. Maybe it’s a pipe dream to hope for a Democratic governor in Texas, but I can dream, can’t I?

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complaints, condescending twatbags, Germany, healthcare, language, politics, psychology, social media, social welfare

Am I really that “funny” to some people?

Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of puzzled about how I seem to come across to people. I know that sometimes people find me funny. Sometimes, they even find me funny at appropriate times, like when I make an obviously humorous comment. But then, sometimes I find puzzling laughter reactions to things that aren’t meant to be funny.

For instance, yesterday, I shared an old photo of Bill and me at a beer spa. We were in a tub shaped like a keg with a beer spigot next to it. I suppose that could be kind of funny… but it was actually more awesome than humorous. Several people laughed at it. When I asked what was funny, no one responded. I wasn’t necessarily offended by the laugh reactions to that photo. I was just confused by them. I don’t see what’s funny about a couple sitting in a beer spa keg, especially since we weren’t naked.

I did get some laugh reactions at another post, though, that I did find kind of obnoxious. I have ranted a few times on this blog about how certain people in the United States like to tell me how life is in Germany. It’s usually conservatives who do this. They have this idea that Germany is a dystopian communist hellhole, where people are paying taxes out the ass, living in tiny boxes, can’t get medical care, and are subjected to death panels by Muslim terrorists. And yet, my guess is that most of them have never so much as ever left the United States. Or, if they did, they didn’t stay away long enough to understand that life can be good outside of the United States.

The mocking, derisive effect of the laughing emoji is annoying enough when it comes from strangers. It’s actually kind of hurtful when it comes from “friends”. Below is something I wrote in September 2019, after having a very frustrating discussion with a friend of a friend, who was convinced that no one in Germany feels safe, because people don’t walk around with guns here. She stated that she knew Muslims were taking over Germany, and that life here is a nightmare. And she was saying this from Dallas, Texas!

Twice this week, Trump supporters in the USA have tried to tell me how things are in Germany. I have heard how unsafe I am, how I can’t get medical care, how Muslims run everything, crime is rampant, and no one is allowed to have weapons. Do I really look like I have no ability to draw my own conclusions about what life is like over here? Folks, Germany is a nice place to be. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s pretty good, despite those pesky “socialist” policies that make healthcare and higher education affordable and guns more difficult to obtain.

I swear, I must come off as just plain dumb to some people. I don’t get it.

I shared this again, because it still happens regularly. I was completely serious when I wrote it, and when I shared it as a memory. Yet some friends “laughed” at me for this. People who don’t know me presume to tell me how bad it is where I live. What’s especially strange is when they assume I’m not American, and lecture me about life in rural America. It’s inconceivable to some US citizens that anyone can be happy beyond the shores of the United States. Especially a fellow citizen! It’s like– how in the world can one stand to be away from the most fabulous country in the world?

Uh… yeah. A country where people are still screaming about an election that happened two years ago, in which a delusional and obvious narcissist LOST… and on his way out of the White House, which he had threatened to refuse to leave, he STOLE highly classified documents and took them home! A country where children have to learn how to behave in case some unhinged young man with a gun comes in and opens fire on them. A country where more and more states are denying physicians the right to practice their profession without speaking to a lawyer first… and women are being denied the right to choose whether or not they want to be pregnant. A country where we speak of freedom and the right to pursue happiness, while in practice, people who aren’t conventional are pushed to the peripheries– their rights and personal safety threatened regularly. A country where a hell of a lot of people think anyone who has their well being in mind should be sent to prison. A country where a large segment of the population are incarcerated and treated inhumanely!

I could go on… but I think you get the point. It’s not that I don’t love my country. I do. I am proud to be American. But it’s really not the most awesome place there is. There are other countries where life is very good, and even preferable, to some people– Americans included. Personally, I like the lifestyle in Europe much more than I do the US lifestyle. I like the fact that people here don’t obsess so much over work. People take vacations, spend time with their families, enjoy hobbies and clubs, and engage with their communities. New parents can take paid time off to take care of their babies, rather than handing them off to a childcare facility after six weeks. And yes, it’s a huge plus that there’s a lot less violence here.

I’m not saying life here is perfect. It’s not. There are global issues that affect life here as much as they do in the United States. Sometimes I really miss my friends and family back home. I miss being able to do things easily, simply because I can easily speak and read the language. I miss certain foods, and having things like a big kitchen, closets, and the ability to buy a king sized American mattress with ease. I miss being able to go to the beach without spending ages in the car. But, by and large, it’s been nice to live in Europe. I like it here. I think this experience has forever changed me, too.

A few years ago, Bill and I attended a Christmas market in our village, and we met a German lady with an adorable little shih tzu dog, who was wearing a t-shirt that read “Security”. The lady spoke excellent English, and explained to us that she had lived in Tennessee for years, having worked for the drinks company, Seagrams. When we told her about how we’d been in Germany for years, she smiled with recognition and said, “Well, you’ll never be the same again. When you go back to the US, you’ll be too European.”

She’s right, of course. Every time I live abroad, I’m irrevocably changed. This latest stint has been the most life altering. Sometimes, I wonder if I can stand the idea of moving back to the US. Other times, I think that of course I can. That’s my home. But living over here has opened my eyes to its many shortcomings. Why is that funny to some people?

I think social media has really made people more thoughtless and callous, anyway. I started my morning today by blocking a young lady named “Ashlie” who left a rude response to a comment I had left about Dr. Fauci, who had just announced his retirement. I expressed support for Dr. Fauci, because I think he’s done some incredible work for humanity. His job has truly been thankless, because there are so many people in the world– especially in the United States– who think that COVID is a hoax, and vaccines are useless. I just want to ask those people– where the hell do you think all those people who died went? Are they all in Roswell, New Mexico with all the people who disappeared on 9/11? COVID is very real, and it’s killed millions of people. The vaccines have been life savers.

I had COVID myself over the summer. It was like a bad cold. Maybe it would have still been like that if I hadn’t been vaccinated, given that it wasn’t the original variant that got me. Or maybe I would have had to be hospitalized and would have been left extremely debilitated or even dead. I have a few of the risk factors for severe COVID. I’m still not a big fan of face masks, but I cooperate with the rules. I trust people who went to medical school and work in public health.

But this young woman wrote “straight to prison where you belong.” to my well wishes about the octogenarian, Dr. Fauci, who is finally going to retire. I assume she means Fauci should be imprisoned, but the fact that she presumably accidentally wrote that I should go to prison was enough for me to block her. Lately, my block list has been growing by leaps and bounds… and in a way, it makes me sad. People can’t all be this awful, can they? And yet, they are… even though Facebook keeps disciplining me with bots, claiming that I’m a poor citizen of the ‘Net.

I wonder if the young woman who left that comment wanted me to block her. Maybe she doesn’t care. If she doesn’t care, why should I?

Ehh… I know some people would miss me if I quit social media, and I would miss them. But, I have to admit, I do think about doing it every day, because I’m tired of interacting with people who don’t think. I suppose I could have asked “Ashlie” what the hell is wrong with her. I could have addressed her, stating that I haven’t done anything that warrants going to prison, and neither has Dr. Fauci. I admire Dr. Fauci for the lifesaving work he’s done, in spite of massive hostility and stupidity directed toward him. And I could have made a firm statement that COVID vaccines have saved lives worldwide… and Dr. Fauci is just one of many competent healthcare professionals worldwide who have touted them.

I live in Germany, and COVID vaccines have been heavily promoted here. Dr. Fauci doesn’t work in Germany. Should I adopt the belief that Germany’s healthcare minister, Karl Lauterbach, who is a physician and has a Ph.D. in public health from Harvard University, should go to prison for the work he does? I don’t like all of Lauterbach’s opinions or policies, but he has a tremendous responsibility. His job is necessary. My guess is that he’s lost a lot of sleep over the past couple of years. Yes, he’s in a position of power, and some of his policies have been highly annoying and tedious. But again– he has a tremendous responsibility and is in a position of huge trust. Same as Dr. Fauci. Saying that either of these men should go to prison, simply because of their unpopular policies, is ludicrous, disrespectful, and frankly, very stupid.

I could have told Ashlie all of that, but in the end, I just decided to remove her from my sphere, because I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with such idiocy. It just seems like here in Europe, there are fewer people like Ashlie to deal with. They do exist, but they’re in much smaller numbers. Or… maybe it just seems that way, because I don’t speak German very well. Anyway, I like it better. No need to laugh at me for that. At least my opinions are based on real experience instead of conjecture.

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