April 01, 2004

Please, Ask Me a Question

Think I'm friendly and approachable? So does everybody in Germany.

Today I went shopping. I need a new dress for my upcoming cruise and for a friend's wedding, and I thought I would go to Karstadt where I could swing by Lush as well.

First there was facing my subway fear. I have the worst sense of direction in the world and coupled with a crappy memory this makes for a very difficult time finding my way onto the right street from the subway. I was going to Hauptbanhof Nord, a trip we've made at least a half a dozen times, but can I remember which way to go? Nope.

Oh I made it on the train okay, it was getting off that was the problem. Kevin told me when I see a particular sign, go the other way. Okay, sure. So off I went the other way. Then I came to a fork in the tunnel. Left? Right? Uh, how about Right. Then, another fork in the tunnel. Left? Right? Uh, how about Right again. Wrong, and wrong. I ended up across the street and around the corner of where I wanted to be. The only reason I knew which way to go then was that the last time I tried this trip myself I came out at the exact spot.

I then had to walk down a long boulevard crowded with shoppers. There were your usual people handing out flyers, signing petitions (I think), and begging for money. Other people were striding right by these folks and not being bothered at all. I tried to effect a confident demeanor and walk right on past, but no luck. I got stopped by everyone.

And to make things worse, not one but two people asked me for directions! Am I wearing a sign that says "Please ask me a question?" In both cases I opted for the "Ich weise nicht" (I don't know) rather than the "Ich spreche kein Deutsch" (I don't speak German). But the sad thing is that even if I did speak German, I surely couldn't have helped these people.

This type of thing happens to me all the time. I guess I should be flattered. I must look non-threatening and intelligent. Maybe I'm wearing a sign that says, "Be my friend!"

As for the dress, well, in technical writing we have a saying: "Fast, Cheap, Good--Pick two." I've come to realize that dress shopping is the same: "Attractive, Reasonably Priced, In Your Size--pick two." So I struck out at Karstadt.

I then got lost in the maze of the subway station again. Picked the wrong tunnel, backtracked, inexplicably ended up on the street, backtracked, picked the wrong tunnel again (in fact, I later realized it was the wrong tunnel I picked the first time), and found the correct tunnel only to see my train pull out of the station as I was halfway down the escalator. *sigh* Well, at least I made it!

Posted by Shelby at April 1, 2004 07:41 PM