communication, law, Police, travel

Damned if you do… damned if you don’t…

I still have a ton of travel blogging to do, and I’ll be getting to that in a little while. First, I want to write about a situation I read about this morning.

Last month, white mom, Mary MacCarthy, was traveling with her ten year old biracial daughter, Moira. They were on their way to a funeral in Denver, Colorado. Ms. MacCarthy’s brother died suddenly in October, so MacCarthy had to take a last minute flight from her home in California. MacCarthy is a single mom, and her brother was like a father to Moira. The girl was crying when she was boarding the flight, and the two were initially not able to sit together. MacCarthy asked other passengers if someone would be willing to move so that she and her daughter could be next to each other.

Another passenger was kind enough to oblige, and the pair arrived safely in Denver, where they were met on the jet bridge by a couple of Denver police officers. MacCarthy was shocked to be confronted by the cops. She worried that they were there to deliver more bad news. But, it turned out that they wanted to talk to her because someone had called them, suspicious about their behavior. Moira had been crying because her uncle died. Then, afterwards, she was confronted by the police, and terrified because of all of the news coverage about people of color being abused or even killed by the police.

After talking to MacCarthy and her daughter, Denver police cleared them of any wrongdoing, and they were free to go. MacCarthy recorded the incident on her phone. The initial police report indicated that a Southwest flight attendant had reported the duo for “suspicious behavior”.

Two weeks later, MacCarthy got a phone call from the Denver Police Human Trafficking unit. The caller said the unit was following up on MacCarthy’s case. It was only then that MacCarthy realized she had been suspected of human trafficking.

MacCarthy sent an email to Southwest Airlines about this incident and, she says, so far they have not apologized. Instead, she claims she has only received two brief automated responses. MacCarthy has retained an attorney and is accusing Southwest Airlines of “racial profiling”. She now wants “a written apology from the airline, immediate reimbursement of the full price of their tickets, and “additional compensation to account for the trauma imposed on an innocent family, and especially on a grieving ten year-old Black girl.”

Southwest Airlines has said it’s “disheartened” by MacCarthy’s story of the events and has “plans to reach out to her.” In a statement to CNN, Southwest Airlines spokesperson Dan Landson said:

“We are conducting a review of the situation internally, and we will be reaching out to the Customer to address her concerns and offer our apologies for her experience traveling with us. Our Employees undergo robust training on Human Trafficking. Above all, Southwest Airlines prides itself on providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for the millions of Customers who travel with us each year,”

I can’t blame Mary MacCarthy and her daughter for being very upset and traumatized by what happened to them last month. On the other hand, I also have some empathy for the flight attendant who called the police. It sounds like the flight attendant was following protocol based on training. And while it’s certainly possible that the call was based on the flight attendant’s racial biases, I can’t conclude for certain that it was, based on the information I’ve read about this case so far.

Just yesterday, I read another story about a sixteen year old girl who was abducted by a 61 year old man. The girl had seen a hand gesture on Tik Tok called the Signal for Help. She used it while riding in the car with her kidnapper, hoping someone in another car would notice her signal of distress. Fortunately, someone did notice, and called 911. The motorist who made the emergency call also stayed behind the car and updated the police to the kidnapper’s location. That’s how the Laurel County sheriff’s department in Kentucky managed to arrest James Herbert Brick and bring the teenager he’d abducted to safety.

Brick has been charged with two felonies: unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor. He was locked up in the Laurel County Correctional Center in London, Ky., on a $10,000 bond.

In both of these scenarios, people saw something and said something, which is the advice often given to those who are concerned about something that is amiss. I’ve heard that advice given in situations involving potential crimes, as well as in situations that involve potential medical issues. Yes, it’s possible that a person is making much ado about nothing, but, as they say, “better safe than sorry”, especially when children are involved.

My heart goes out to Mary MacCarthy and Moira. They were already upset and anxious on that flight to Denver, given the terrible and sudden loss of MacCarthy’s brother, who was only 46 years old. Ms. MacCarthy also says that Moira is only ten, but she looks much older than ten. And it’s almost always scary to be confronted by the police, particularly in this era during which Black people have been injured or killed by American cops.

But… unfortunately, there are people out there who traffic children. Not all traffickers are scary looking men. Sometimes women are involved with trafficking children, and they get away with it, because they don’t fit the stereotypical profile of a trafficker. And flight attendants are trained to look for the signs of people who might be harming children. The flight attendant who called the police reported that Ms. MacCarthy and Moira were among the last to board the flight and the last to buy tickets. And they didn’t speak during the flight. Of course, the flight attendant had no way of knowing the circumstances of why the duo were behaving as they were, and she had many other passengers to look after on the flight. It might not have been possible for her to find out more about the situation before she made her judgment call.

It seems to me that Ms. MacCarthy is legitimately upset because she’s offended. I don’t blame her for being offended. But I would also hate to see people being discouraged from calling for help when they see something that doesn’t look right. I understand that calling the police on matters involving people of color can lead to tragic consequences. It shouldn’t be that way, though. People should feel free to call for help if they think help is needed. And I think in this case, the flight attendant was obviously concerned and felt that the situation merited calling the police. It turned out that she was wrong, but what if she hadn’t been wrong?

Over the past couple of days, I’ve noticed several people hitting a post I wrote earlier this year about how the “Karen” stigma can actually be deadly. That post was about a column I read in The Atlantic magazine, about a woman who was concerned that her pharmacy wasn’t requiring people to wear face masks at the drive in pickup station. But she didn’t want to be a “Karen”, so she didn’t say anything about it.

That post was written in late January of this year, before a lot of people had been vaccinated against COVID-19. The incident the article it was based on occurred even earlier than that. The point I made in that post is that being overly concerned about being labeled a “Karen” or a “BBQ Becky” or “Permit Patty” could actually cause harm to people. If there is a situation that is potentially dangerous, a person should feel okay about asking for help from people who have the ability to investigate. In a perfect world, making such a call would be perfectly safe, and would not result in someone being hurt, killed, or even humiliated.

Ms. MacCarthy assumes that she and her daughter were questioned because they don’t look alike. And it’s possible that racism played a part in the reason the flight attendant noticed them and called the cops. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the flight attendant was legitimately concerned and believed the duo were throwing up major red flags. The end result was that Mary MacCarthy and her daughter were cleared and allowed to go on their way. Yes, it was traumatic, embarrassing, and scary, but in the end, no one was hurt or killed, and no one actually was being trafficked. Those are good things, even if Southwest Airlines hasn’t apologized for the mistake.

For the record, yes, I do think the airline owes Ms. MacCarthy and her daughter a sincere apology. I’m sure that Southwest Airlines will eventually settle with Ms. MacCarthy. Hopefully, the settlement will be appropriate and make the situation less horrifying for MacCarthy and her daughter. According to NBC news:

“At this point they can speak with my attorneys,” MacCarthy said.

She says it’s about more than an apology.

“I travel with my daughter’s birth certificate because I’m ready to answer any questions if necessary,” she said. “The fact that we’re mother and daughter, the fact that I’m a single parent traveling with my daughter. It’s the right of TSA to ask those questions, I’m open to that. But the way this was handled was so unprofessional.

“I will do whatever it takes to speak out against the type of ignorant behavior and policies that lead to families being treated this way.”

I think people involved with serving and protecting the public have a tough and often thankless job. But I also think that these kinds of situations, where an offended person pursues legal remedies against those who act out of caution– especially when it involves children— could have a chilling effect that might lead to more children being harmed or killed. If someone sees something that raises a red flag, but they decide not to act because of the danger of being sued or even just being called a “Karen”, there could be even more tragedies. I’m sure the young lady who gave the Signal for Help while being driven through multiple states with her 61 year old captor is happy that someone acted and called the police.

But… in Mary MacCarthy’s defense, I also think that once the Denver Police cleared her and her daughter, that should have been the end of it. The human trafficking department should not have called her to “follow up”. I think if that hadn’t have happened, this story would have a different trajectory. And I do believe her when she says that Moira is traumatized by what happened.

I hope someday, the police situation in the United States will be overhauled, so that officers can actually be thought of as good people to call for help, rather than just threatening and potentially deadly. It probably won’t happen in my lifetime. And… on another note, flying has gotten to be pretty terrible these days. Stories like these make me want to avoid flying even more than ever.

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true crime, videos

What went down at Chipotle the other day…

Yesterday, I read about a white Michigan couple who were basically bullbaited in the parking lot at Chipotle Grill. By now, you’ve probably seen the scary pictures and video involving Jillian Wuestenberg, 32, and Eric Wuestenberg, 42, both of whom were arrested on Wednesday of this week because Ms. Wuestenberg aimed a handgun at a black woman and her daughters. When I saw the headlines, I inwardly sighed to myself, because it looked like yet another example of middle-aged white women behaving badly toward people of color.

I have never made it a secret that I don’t like call out culture, nor do I think it’s right to ruin people’s lives over what they say and do in altercations on the street. I will grant that a lot of the time, the altercations that get filmed and disseminated do make the “almost always” middle-aged white women look bad. However, that’s just a sliver of a person’s life, and I don’t think it’s right for the public, 99.9% of whom were not there to see the incident themselves, to play judge, jury, and executioner for other people’s lives. They almost never have all of the necessary facts to make such a judgment, and it’s almost always colored by their own opinions.

The longer I live in Germany, the more I appreciate that over here, you have the right to be forgotten. In fact, here, the names and identities of criminals are largely protected. They don’t publish the full names of people in trouble with the law, and when they take photos, their faces are usually covered. Privacy is very important. While I can understand the satisfaction many people feel when people are “outed” for behaving badly, I also think people should have the right to redeem themselves. And I especially think that should happen in this case of egregious baiting that led to people getting fired and being arrested.

In the uncensored video, we hear a very upset black woman yelling at a white woman, Jillian Wuestenberg. Apparently, Ms. Wuestenberg bumped into Takelia Hill’s daughter and didn’t apologize. That part of the incident wasn’t recorded, so we have to take them at their word that’s what happened. Hill claims that Ms. Wuestenberg not only didn’t apologize, but she “cursed” out her teenaged daughter. If that happened, it shouldn’t have. Ms. Wuestenberg should have simply said “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” and moved on with her day. That would have been the polite thing to do. However, people bump into people all the time, and they aren’t always polite. Most reasonable people simply go ahead with their day, even if there isn’t an apology when someone does something rude. That is clearly not what happened in this situation.

Evidently, because Ms. Wuestenberg didn’t apologize to Ms. Hill’s satisfaction, she deserved a hostile confrontation in a parking lot. We can see and hear Takelia Hill loudly and and aggressively confronting this couple over the slight. It’s plain to me in this video that this couple repeatedly tried to get out of the situation and deescalate it. At 1:12, I even heard Jillian Wuestenberg repeatedly say, “I care about you.” to Ms. Hill, and she also apologized that Hill had evidently experienced an incident that has made her feel “like that”. But Hill continues to verbally harass her, doesn’t lower her voice, back away, or calm down, so Jillian also says, “You can’t go around calling white people racist.” Why she didn’t just roll up her window at that point and drive away, I don’t know.

Jillian’s husband, Eric Wuestenberg, eventually tries to intervene. Hill then threatens Eric, saying she’ll “beat [his] white ass, too”. He responds by asking Hill who the fuck they think they are, which I can hardly fault him for doing, given the extremely hostile tone of everyone involved in this ridiculous incident. The confrontation continues to worsen, with both women yelling at each other. I’m reminded of animals who are attacked and harassed to the point of snapping. The couple tries to leave the parking lot, but Hill gets behind their vehicle and hits it with her hand.

And that’s when Jillian Wuestenberg took the unfortunate next step, which was to get out of her car, scream at Ms. Hill, advance toward her, pull out a handgun, and aim it at Hill, who doesn’t sound at all like she’s frightened. I hear Ms. Hill’s daughters screaming in fear, and I can see on Jillian Wuestenberg’s face that she’s scared and angry. She’s probably humiliated and furious, and it looks like she might also be pregnant, which could have affected her behavior. I do not at all condone Jillian Wuestenberg’s use of a handgun in this incident. She is clearly guilty of a crime. Watching it unfold as someone who is not involved, I can easily think of other things she could have done instead of pulling out a gun. I think it would have been much better if she’d simply rolled up her window and sat in the car to wait for the cops to arrive, since the parties called the police on each other.

However, I also don’t think Takelia Hill is at all innocent in this fiasco. She deliberately provoked the Wuestenbergs into reacting by screaming in their faces, threatening them, and striking their car. And while I understand that black people have historically and repeatedly been harassed and arrested and provoked, too, this is not the way to make that problem go away. Two wrongs don’t make a right. There’s no reason why this situation should have gotten to the point of people getting arrested and losing employment. I get that people are tense and angry right now, for a lot of reasons. But the jails don’t need more people in them. The court system doesn’t need more cases to try. And someone really could have gotten hurt or even killed over a mundane thing that happens to people every day. There’s no reason why this situation had to escalate to verbal abuse and threats with a firearm.

Jillian Wuestenberg and her husband were legally permitted to carry the weapons they had, although they had to give them up after they were arrested and charged with felonious assault. Mr. Wuestenberg was fired from his job at Oakland University. All they wanted was some food from Chipotle! What a shame it is that they had to literally run into people who seem hellbent on creating a situation that grants them fifteen minutes of fame. This is yet another endorsement for staying the fuck at home!

What I found even more disturbing, though, besides the awful comments from people who clearly didn’t watch the whole, unedited video, was that the Wuestenbergs have already been doxed. Just a simple Google search turns up a Web site where their private information has been made public. In fact, they even include passwords for the couple’s email accounts. The reason given?

Reasoning : Aiming a gun at blacks for no fucking reason justice they shall serve

How in the hell is that LEGAL? That site should be taken down and the people running it should be sued! Watch the video. Was pulling out a gun an overreaction? Yes, it was. But it was a long time coming and certainly not without provocation. I wouldn’t say she pulled out the gun for “no fucking reason”. Jillian Wuestenberg probably did feel threatened and may have been on the verge of an anxiety attack at that point. I’m sure her fight or flight response was fully engaged.

We have a court system for a reason, folks. It’s not for the public to be the judge, jury, and executioner of everyday citizens who bump into each other and don’t apologize. I think the charges against this couple should either be reduced or dropped. I also think Takelia Hill should be brought up on charges for harassment. She’s at least as much to blame as the Wuestenbergs for the fact that this happened. And it’s not like the police don’t have better things to be doing with their time than breaking up these kinds of squabbles.

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Police, social media

What would Jesus do?

I wrote a post yesterday that I decided to password protect several hours later. I didn’t share it on Facebook, as I usually do. I figured if I shared it, I might be inviting Internet infamy, and frankly my mental state right now can’t handle that. So, several hours after I wrote yesterday’s post, I decided to put it behind a password. I figured that if anyone wanted to read it, they would message me.

One person did want to read the post. I shared it with her. We disagreed, although we did so in a civil way. I appreciated that very much, since a couple of nights ago, I got attacked by two different people on Facebook for defending Amy Cooper. Now… when I say I “defended” her, I don’t mean I condoned what she did on Monday morning. I certainly don’t think her actions were right, but I don’t know much about her. All I know about her is what I’ve read in the papers and seen on video. I don’t like what I’ve read or seen, but I don’t know Amy Cooper personally. I think she’s guilty of acting like a racist. However, I don’t know enough about her to know if she is, in fact, a racist. She might very well be a racist. Or, she might have just lost all sense of decorum in a very stressful situation.

By stressful, I don’t just mean being confronted by a black man in a park. I mean stressful to include dealing with the global pandemic in a city that has been hit very hard by the coronavirus. Most of the world is under tremendous stress right now, and I wonder if that had anything to do with the way Ms. Cooper reacted on Monday.

A lot of people have concluded that by calling the police on birdwatcher Christian Cooper, the black man who confronted her in Central Park on Memorial Day morning, Amy Cooper is a horrible person to the core. She’s lost her job, her dog, and probably a lot of friends. Many people have said they think she should be arrested and spend time in prison, even though there is no law against calling the police. Granted, many people felt Amy Cooper was simply calling the cops because she’s a racist; but not having been there at the time, I can’t conclude that she didn’t feel scared or threatened. I honestly don’t know what she was feeling at the time. I can only make a presumption based on the video and news articles that have been shared and commented on repeatedly.

I have noticed that coming to a conclusion other than what the masses believe can be dangerous. Based on the hatred that was spewing Tuesday night and yesterday, it occurred to me that some self-righteous people wouldn’t mind if she just killed herself. That seems wrong to me, since Amy Cooper is a human being and I think most human beings are deserving of basic compassion and understanding, even when they don’t show it themselves. (and I will also admit that I can be hypocritical on this point, particularly when someone is hateful to me– but I am working on it)

I found the flow of vitriol toward Amy Cooper very depressing. It was bad enough that I considered getting off of Facebook. Between the constant back and forth preaching about social distancing and face mask wearing, the endless pictures of hateful white supremacists who have been toting their guns to state capitals and demanding their “rights”, and the shrill outrage expressed by thousands of people who don’t actually know anything about Amy Cooper or Christian Cooper or any of the other stories they were commenting on, it got to be too much… I was starting to feel horrible about myself, and I had nothing to do with any of these incidents.

Then I saw posts about George Floyd, the 46 year old black man who was arrested in Minneapolis and died handcuffed and begging for his life as a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, pinning him to the ground. I’ll admit, I haven’t read the details about that case yet, but I did see the horrifying pictures. I do think the officers who are responsible for killing Mr. Floyd should be prosecuted. There are far too many black men being killed by people who are supposed to be protecting and serving everyone. Ditto to the three men in Brunswick, Georgia– Gregory McMichael, 64, Travis McMichael, 34, and William Bryan, 50,– who are responsible for killing Ahmaud Arbery in February. Those men absolutely should stand trial for taking the law into their own hands and killing a black man who was simply out for a run.

I think it’s a problem that someone like Amy Cooper gets mobbed and automatically labeled a racist for calling the police. I think people should be able to call the police whenever they think they need help. No one should be able to “weaponize” the police. The police should be there to help resolve conflicts, protect and serve all people, and enforce laws. The fact that people think a middle aged white woman can call the police, resulting in a black man being killed by them, is a serious problem and something that our society must address. I think the fact that so many black men in America are being killed by cops is a much bigger issue than a white woman calling 911 when she didn’t really have to.

Unfortunately, somehow some police officers in the United States seem to have lost their way, and now they’ve become people that we collectively can’t trust. When a middle aged white woman like Alison Ettel, Jennifer Schulte, or Amy Cooper calls the police on someone of color, they become targets of rage and symbols of racism. People then feel free to cheer when their lives fall apart on a very public forum. The public becomes as bad as the offender. Seriously… I don’t think people who are outraged against Amy Cooper, wishing death or poverty or any other misfortune on her are a whole lot better than the racist they claim she is. Hate is hate. God forbid you present a different viewpoint, either. If you do, be prepared to be attacked and maligned, as I was a couple of nights ago.

And that brings me to the title of today’s post. I have never claimed to be a very religious person. I’m especially not a fan of organized religion because I’ve seen it hurt a lot of people. However, I am a fan of Jesus Christ… or at least the idea of being “Christ like”. I have been fortunate enough to run into a couple of people in my life who radiated serenity. A few years ago, I even wrote about a man I didn’t talk to, but simply noticed in a restaurant. I was in a bad mood at the time… hungry, tired, and irritable, and I noticed this man sitting at a table with several other people. He seemed to be so calm, loving, and gentle… perhaps a mere essence of who I think Christ would be if I were to meet him. The people who were with the man in the restaurant seemed enchanted by his humble demeanor and easy kindness.

My German friend, Susanne, found out who the man was. It turned out he was a Japanese Buddhist monk named Toyoshige Sekiguchi who had been traveling around the world to promote peace and nuclear disarmament. I never spoke to him, but simply seeing him in a crowded restaurant while I was “hangry” had the effect of calming me down and imparting peace. It occurred to me that someone like Toyoshige Sekiguchi would not hate Amy Cooper. He would most likely wish peace for her… something to soothe whatever it was inside of her that made her say what she said to Christian Cooper on Monday morning and take actions that led to her life being destroyed in a matter of hours.

I am a very long way from being like Toyoshige Sekiguchi. I am an even longer way from being like Jesus Christ. I have my moments of hatred, outrage, and judgment, just like everyone else does, although mine most often seem to come out against people who injure me or Bill personally. Still, I would like to be a kinder, more understanding person. Hating Amy Cooper is not a step in the right direction to meet that goal, even if I condemn her actions.

A wise professor once told me, having been the wife of an abusive alcoholic– you have to separate the person from the action. Most people occasionally say and do bad things, but that doesn’t necessarily make them inherently bad people. And… just for the record, I can name several people off the top of my head whom I think are much worse people than Amy Cooper is, and none of them have ever been outed, let alone fired or arrested. But what they did was never recorded on a camera phone and leaked to the press. Most of us could easily find ourselves making a very public mistake that gets put on blast. I doubt very much that any of us would want to have our lives upended and wrecked for having a couple of bad minutes of our lives recorded for posterity and shared with and judged by the masses.

For his part, Christian Cooper has publicly stated that he doesn’t think it’s right for Amy Cooper’s life to be upended. He said:

“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake… And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt.”

“I’m not excusing the racism,” he said. “But I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.”

He opened his mouth to speak further and then stopped himself. He had been about to say the phrase, “that poor woman,” he later acknowledged, but he could not bring himself to complete the thought.

“She went racial. There are certain dark societal impulses that she, as a white woman facing in a conflict with a black man, that she thought she could marshal to her advantage,” he said.

“I don’t know if it was a conscious thing or not,” he added. “But she did it, and she went there.”

Christian Cooper says he doesn’t want to reconcile with Amy Cooper face to face, but he has expressed regret that she’s received death threats and that her life is being “destroyed”. He has acknowledged that by making her go viral, he played a part in (hopefully temporarily) destroying her life… even though many people feel that by calling the police, she could have ended his life. He even almost called her a “poor woman” as he spoke to the New York Times about the aftermath of making her go viral. I commend him for having compassion for Amy Cooper. The world would be a better place if more people did. I hope someday that Amy Cooper recovers from this incident and even gets her dog back, as long as she’s willing to keep him on a leash.

What I think is especially sad, though, is that we don’t have more faith in the New York City Police Department being able to do their jobs without killing someone. And that our lack of faith in New York City’s police is due to the all too frequent stories about black men being killed by cops in places like Minneapolis, Minnesota. That, to me, is a much bigger issue than Amy Cooper deciding to call the cops.

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musings

Dying to be right…

It’s almost noon and I haven’t done any writing yet. That’s because I am not inspired. Ever since we left the hotbed of crazy that is Stuttgart, I’m finding it harder to write stuff. I’m no longer a member of most of the Facebook groups in the Stuttgart community, so I don’t get exposed to some of the crazy shit that inspires me to opine. I do run an annoying Facebook group, but it’s for winos and foodies in Wiesbaden and Stuttgart. It rarely gets dramatic in that group, because we mainly post about our indulgences.

I had a neighbor in our first village who had one of these…

Actually, this morning, Bill was telling me about someone in one of the Stuttgart groups who got bitched out by a local. His dog escaped the house and took a crap in the neighbor’s yard. The guy was trying to apologize to the neighbor and asked where the crap was, so he could clean it up. German neighbor wasn’t having it and said next time, he was calling the cops. Wow. Really?

A lady in the Stuttgart Facebook group said that a woman stopped her car, leaned out the window, and yelled at the Facebook lady for letting her dog pee in the street. She said the dog should hold it until it was out of the housing area. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had much success in preventing my dogs from peeing outside when they need to go. Moreover, having spent a few years in this country, I have seen PLENTY of evidence that they don’t have that much of an aversion to public urination. I have lost count of the times I’ve seen people pissing on the side of the road. Granted, it’s usually at rest areas, in rural areas where there are no restrooms or, when there’s a traffic jam, on the side of the Autobahn. But seriously, I have seen a lot of public whizzing… especially from men and children.

I do think it’s important to clean up dog crap when it happens, especially in areas where people are walking. I am very good about cleaning up after Arran. Generally speaking, I usually clean up his dumps just after he does them. Sometimes, I make exceptions if it’s pouring rain, as it was this morning, or too dark outside to see. Then I wait until the sun is up and the rain isn’t so heavy. But sometimes, I am not the one who takes Arran out and I miss a dump.

I remember being chewed out by ex landlady a couple of times because there were landmines in the back yard. I hadn’t seen them because they were covered by the tall grass it was her job to cut. Bill would take the dogs out in the middle of the night and they’d poop. I wouldn’t see that they pooped, because I was in bed and it was dark out there anyway. And although I always did a check in the morning, sometimes I wouldn’t see where they went, mainly due to the dumps being hidden in the tall grass or bushes. She would also show up whenever she felt like it, so it’s not like I’d ever know when she was coming so I could do an extra check. It drove me nuts. I would try to explain this to her, but she was never one for listening or being reasonable. Instead, she would simply tell me off, and with each ass chewing, I would have that much less respect for her. You might guess how much regard I have for her now. 😉

Fortunately, at our current residence, I don’t have to worry about the landlord showing up willy nilly, nor is he responsible for cutting the grass. He lives next door, yet I can count on one hand the number of conversations we’ve had. All of them have been pleasant. He respects our privacy. I don’t think he even knows we lost Zane last month. I still try to clean up the poop pronto, though. And if I happen to step in a pile, that’s life.

I guess that’s one thing about living in Germany that I can’t get used to. People seem to have no compunction about scolding others. I mean, they tell off perfect strangers for everything from crossing the street against the “red man” to driving a moving truck the wrong way down a one way street (because it’s the only way the truck can reach a residence). I find it very rude and disrespectful; it offends my southern sensibilities. Besides, in the United States, it’s not a good idea to yell at someone because they might be packing heat and in a bad mood. Maybe you won’t be yelled at by an American in the United States, but you could very well get shot by someone who is a bit unhinged.

I remember during our first tour in Germany, I frequently got yelled at by strangers all the time for doing things “wrong”. It took a long time to get used to it. I mean, sure, it’s not a bad thing to correct me when I’m wrong, but do you have to be so fucking nasty about it? One time, in the first week of our first tour in Stuttgart, I got screamed at by some lady because I walked the dogs through a playground. I didn’t realize that it was “verboten” to take dogs in play areas. I remember going back to our shitty hotel room at one of the worst hotels in Stuttgart and having a good cry. I was very frustrated, especially since I didn’t understand her. It wasn’t until later that I found out that dogs aren’t allowed in playgrounds.

I don’t get “told off” so often anymore, especially since we moved. In fact, a lot of people think I’m a local until I open my mouth to speak. And even then, sometimes I get mistaken for German. It happened yesterday. Some American guy thanked me in German for letting him pet Arran, even though I spoke in perfect American accented English the whole time. But then, a lot of Germans speak in perfect American English, too. Too funny.

I find the older I get, the less inclined I am to tolerate being scolded by people. I’m 47 years old and could be a granny. In fact, I actually am a step-granny. I figure I have earned the right to be given a modicum of respect from other people. However, I have not yet gone back to screaming at them in kind, as I might have before I got therapy. Maybe that would be the best way to deal with it, although in Germany, a person can get in trouble simply for flipping someone off or calling them a name. Some insults are worse than others. For instance, it’s never a good idea to ever tell a German that they’re acting like a Nazi or a member of the Stasi (East German secret police). Double that for a police officer or court official. However, I do think it’s kind of sad that instead of speaking calmly and reasonably to the other party and handling things at a low level, oftentimes shit has to escalate to the point of involving the police or taking someone to court. Sometimes, I don’t think Germans have a concept of win/win. There simply has to be winners and losers here, and many Germans seem all too willing to “die to be right”.

I do still love Germany, for the most part. In many ways, it’s a lot better than the United States. At least I don’t worry that my life is in my hands when we go to the grocery store. Also, Germans are always good for a fest. Yesterday, we went to an apple fest that was pretty epic. I know down near Stuttgart, it’s onion cake season and there will be festivals celebrating onions, of all things. There’s always something going on, and Germans love zany, slapstick humor. I love that about Germany. And I have also found that many Germans, once they know and trust you, are sincere friends. Germany is a beautiful place with many fine traditions. But sometimes, it’s nice to get out of the country for a few days and be around people who aren’t quite so tightly wound. Fortunately, I still have many friends… and some of them even live in Europe.

I look forward to planning our next trip. At this point, it appears that we’ll be going to France for Christmas… visiting friends. Yes, I still have people who like me enough to spend a holiday with me. Imagine that!

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