German Word of the Day: der Handwerker

If you are new to Germany, you might wonder why repairs take that long. I’m German, but sometimes I wonder about it, too.

Let’s draw the shades on this repair job soon.

On 19 September, our window shutter belt (Rollogurt) tore apart after 18 years of use. I called a couple of companies, and one of them offered an appointment (just to assess the damage) three weeks down the road. The next one offered to come the following Monday. Hurray, I thought.

When the repairman came, he told me this outer roller shutter (Außenrollo) is much harder to repair. Since the Rollo could not be pulled up more than 4 inches/10 cm, there would be no way to reach the outer box without breaking the roller shutter (Rolladenpanzer) . In addition, being on the fourth floor of the building, this would also require a second repair man for security reason.

In my mind, I saw the charges adding up. Finally, these roller shutters need to be ordered from another company, as they do not keep them in stock.

I got my estimate on 24 September of € 687,82 with a note that additional charges (unforeseen at this point) might incur. I placed the job order.

On 17 October, I made a friendly inquiry to the Rollo company to see how far down the line we were on the waiting list. My friendly inquiry got a defensive reply, ‘I told you we would call you as soon as the part(s) have come in.’

It has been five weeks today. We are still without a Rollo, and I suppose the part hasn’t even arrived yet. It takes a lot of patience to be at the mercy of getting jobs done by repairmen (Handwerker) in Germany.

I’m sure some neighbors might find it odd, and speculate what’s going on behind these blinds. Not much, I can tell you. We are also in the dark about it. 🙂 Anyway, at this rate, I hope to get this done by Christmas.

Oktoberfest Breakfast in Oberursel

As we were giving our friend from Texas a little tour through Oberursel this past weekend, I noticed this sign outside the ‘Brauhaus Oberursel’.

Where else but in Germany can you get a Marktfrühstück (market breakfast), which includes a couple of Weißwürste (Bavarian veal sausages), a Pretzel, and a 1/2 L of beer (a pint).

No, this wasn’t for us. We opted for a Bratwurst-to-go from the market square vendor instead.

Their special Oktoberfest menu runs through 13 October 2019.

Baroque Castle in Werneck, Bavaria

For our most recent visit to my hometown, we decided to book a room at a brewery inn in Werneck (district of Lower Franconia in northern Bavaria). It was a good and convenient choice, as we only had to walk about a minute to reach the castle grounds.

I left home 40 years ago, and nowadays I’m trying catch up on local sights I missed to see when I was young.

Baroque Castle Werneck

Castle Park Werneck

We had picked a glorious day to take a stroll through the park.

Baroque Castle Werneck in spring time

Balthasar Neumann, Würzburg’s most famous architect of his time, had built this castle for the Prince Bishop, Friedrich Carl von Schönborn, between 1733 – 1745.

This historical postcard is part of my private collection.

Werneck Castle

The castle houses both a psychiatric and an orthopedic clinic.

The café, chapel, and park can be accessed by the public.

3 Things You Should Not Do on Good Friday in Germany

Social Media in Germany is full of debates again about our Good Friday (Karfreitag) rules, and what we can do and not do. In general, Good Friday is just one of a few public holidays, when silence needs to be observed. See Wiki for a list of ‘Quiet Holidays in Germany’.

The quiet days vary from state to state, and the state of Berlin seems to be the most relaxed about its Feiertagsruhe.

The following public places will be closed to observe this rule of silence:

Discos, clubs, sport events, open markets, circuses, fairs, theatres, opera houses, game centers, promotional events;

On a personal level, you may not:

  1. Dance to any kind of music in the public
  2. Wash your car
  3. Move to another location

… and if you are in Bavaria, you should most definitely not air out your bedding on Good Friday.

On a personal note, many years ago, we had traveled to northern Bavaria to visit my side of the family. We stayed at my brother’s house, and I saw the need for a good shake of the bedding which had not been used for many months. A neighbor chided me from across the street, “Maria, das macht man doch nicht am Karfreitag! Das bringt den Tod ins Haus!” (Don’t do this on Good Friday, it will bring death into your home!) I gave the bedding a final shake, and brought it in.

This was so strange after having just moved here from a country like Japan, where so many things are 24/7, and religious beliefs become a medley on holidays anyway.

There is little more contradictory than superstitious beliefs from pious country folk on Good Friday.

List of Expensive Verbal Insults for Drivers in Germany

So you think your German is not good enough to insult others, well, your hand gesture (the middle finger, e.g.) might be enough for you to be fined by the authorities.

Against common belief, there is no difference in whether you insult a police offer or any other person on the street, the charges remain the same. The charge only differs based on the offender’s income and social standing.

For example, a few years back, a famous German soccer player was fined € 10.000 for calling someone an ‘Arschloch’. An average worker would have gotten away with a much lower fine.

This is a shortlist of the most common insults, which come with a €1.000 fine:

  • “Arschloch”, “Drecksau”
  • “Wichser”, “Scheißwichser”
  • “Blöde Schlampe”, “alte Schlampe”
  • “Schlampen, ihr elendigen!”
  • “Sie haben den totalen Knall”
  • Sie sind “blöd im Kopf”
  • “Verbrecherin”, “blöde Kuh”
  • “Arschloch” plus showing the middle finger

Insults are not a trivial offense, but a criminal one, based on German law. This can lead to hefty fines or imprisonment.

On the other hand, the statements/name calling listed below remain free of charge:

  • “Sie können mich mal …”
  • “Oberförster”, “Wegelagerer” oder “Komischer Vogel” to a  police officer
  • “Leck mich am Arsch!” (if used around the Stuttgart area)
  • “Das ist doch Korinthenkackerei” (when arguing about a parking ticket)
  • “Parkplatzschwein” to a person parking in a non-parking zone.

Source: German ADAC – March 2019

Avoid road rage (lovely long German term: im Straßenverkehr ausbrechender Jähzorn), and keep cool.

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