complaints, disasters, dogs

See you next fall…

Many years ago, when I worked at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, I had a friend who worked on the Rhine River cruise ride. He was a big, strapping guy who sweated profusely and carried his lunches in Igloo coolers. I knew this guy, not just because we worked in the “German” part of Busch Gardens, but also because we were both from Gloucester, Virginia. He was the eldest of a large Irish Catholic family. I think he had eleven brothers and sisters, but I can’t say for sure. ETA: A mutual friend says that Shawn is the eldest of fourteen.

Anyway, this guy, name of Shawn, used to get a huge kick out of me. One time I asked him why he was so amused by my comings and goings. He said it was because I was always hurting myself somehow. And because I could swear a blue streak that would make a sailor blush.

This morning, I’m not so proud to admit that I did both of those things. The sad thing is, this morning’s injuries come almost exactly a week after my last significant injury… significance being a relative thing. I’m not talking about broken bones or even sprains. I’m talking about scraped knees and sore muscles from breaking sudden falls.

Last week’s accident happened when I was about to walk the dogs. It was cloudy and a little rainy. I was preparing to walk the dogs when I decided to check the mailbox. Noyzi has been getting a lot braver lately, so he followed me outside. Suddenly, I had a flashback to about a year ago, when the beagle we tried to adopt escaped the pet taxi driver who had brought him to us. He panicked and took off, as we watched helplessly. Hours later, he ended up getting killed on the Autobahn, which is very close to our house. Watching our would-be family member run to his death was devastating. We had been so looking forward to having him, only to see him take off running before we even got to pet him.

Noyzi runs like a locomotive. I don’t think he wants to run away. He seems to enjoy being a pet. He has his own big bed, doesn’t have to fight over food, and loves to take walks. He also seems to like me a lot, although he’s still afraid of Bill. Still, I knew that if he got spooked, as he occasionally does sometimes, I might be shit out of luck in getting him back. He is really fast! I panicked a bit when he came outside. I made a grab for his collar, but missed. I fell down, having lost my balance, and made another grab for him, which I missed. He quickly hit the deck, peeing submissively in the process. I tore off part of a thumbnail and badly scraped my right knee. I also got a big bruise.

It hurt. Falling down is not as painless when you’re middle aged. I literally saw stars and felt nauseous after I fell. Like, I might have been in danger of fainting from the sharp pain. I yelled a bit, because I was pissed off, humiliated, and hurt.

Healing takes longer, too. That knee is already pretty badly scarred from other spills, including one that happened during the summer of 1991, when I was working at Busch Gardens. That was by far the worst knee scrape I’ve ever had. I had just finished work and was taking my till to the cash control office when I slipped on the pebbly walkway. Because it was dark outside and had just rained, I didn’t realize how badly I was hurt until I went into cash control and handed over the till. I looked down and saw blood streaming from my knee. I asked the teller if she had any paper towels. She got a load of my knee and called the first aid office, who carted me off to the first aid station and patched me up. It took weeks for the wound to heal and I still have a deep scar.

So all last week, my knee has itched, bled, stung, and throbbed. My right thumbnail hurt like a motherfucker, since I broke the nail at the quick. As of today, it doesn’t hurt anymore, since the nail has grown. I’d say that injury, at least, is about recovered. But then I renewed my clutzy woes this morning.

Arran woke up at about 4:30am. He wanted his breakfast, since I didn’t have much of a dinner last night and he got few scraps. I got up, let him and Noyzi out, and fed them. Then I went back upstairs, but noticed that Arran hadn’t followed me. I know this trick. Arran will often stay behind and stealth pee if I don’t watch him. Not wanting to clean up an unnecessary mess, I went back downstairs to get Arran. Somehow, I tripped on a shoe. I remember feeling horrified as my ankle wobbled and I went down on my nice rug.

Mrs. Fletcher and I have something in common.

“FUCK!” I screamed. For the second time in a week, Arran was looking at me with a mixture of concern and fear. The expression on his face was like, “oh dear… she’s fallen and can’t get up!”

Yes, I literally screamed and wailed, in part because I was hurting, but also because I’m angry and frustrated. Because now, not only did I reopen the wound on my right knee and undo a week’s healing, but I also now have a scraped left knee and my left big toe is fucked up. This time the scrape is on the top part of the knee. It’s more of a rug burn, so I don’t think the flesh wound will take as long to recover. However, I also have a big bruise on top of the knee, and walking hurts. Add in the normal pain and stiffness I experience just for being old and fat, and you have someone whose Monday has gotten off completely wrong!

The kicker is, I’m supposed to drive somewhere today. It’s literally been months since I last drove anywhere. Like, it’s been so long, I don’t remember when I was last behind the wheel. It might have been in 2019, it was so long ago. And I have to drive the Volvo, because my car’s tires are low on air and even if I wanted to drive on low tires, I’d need to move Bill’s car anyway. Bill has been trying to find a working air pump at a gas station, but for some reason, the Wiesbaden area is low on functioning air pumps. We’ll probably end up ordering one.

Fortunately, the Volvo practically drives itself, and I only need to go about two or three kilometers. But the reason I have to drive is because I need to drop off a sample of Arran’s shit at the vet’s office. That just seems like a perfect Monday morning chore, doesn’t it? I still need to collect one sample before I go, too… and I’m not sure I can manage our usual walk today. My left knee really hurts. But the sun is out, and the dogs need the exercise. I need it too, but maybe only after I put on knee pads and elbow guards. Shawn would be so proud to see that nothing has changed since the 1990s, except now I’m older, heavier, and even more profane.

I haven’t even had an alcoholic drink since Saturday afternoon, so I can’t even blame this on being drunk. At least I finally finished binge watching Growing Pains.

You’d think I played rugby.

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!