Deutsch Direkt was a teach yourself a foreign language series on BBC TV in the eighties.
It’s also the way this Teutonic race speak. We Brits use understatement all the time.
I’m a little bit concerned… (that you are attempting to murder me).
I’m not very happy… (that the garage charged me 200 pounds for five minutes’ work).
Germans, on the other hand, don’t do understatement. They say it exactly as it is.
Post-cinema drinks in a restaurant-cum-cocktail bar in Essen. The new waitress has an unorthodox way to meet’n’greet.
Schatz and I walk in.
New waitress comes to us.
“Ja?” she asks us.
So friendly. There I was, expecting words to the effect of, “Good evening. May I help you?” Never mind.
We sit down. We ponder what drinks to order. I fancy mai thai or zombie.
We make a decision.
We want to get our waitress’ attention, maybe eye contact with her.
She was too busy, hugging her friend who had just arrived at his table, then chatting with him. Hey, she’s enjoying that chat. She’s really LOL’ing at the joke he just told her.
Finally she comes to take our order.
Our drinks come.
Another couple come in the meantime. They order. Cup of tea and a large Pils. Pretty straightforward order. No fancy cocktails.
Twenty minutes later our waiter comes and, in shock, asks our neighbours:
Oh, did your drinks not arrive? No? But I did place your order at the bar.
(Yes, but you were too busy chatting with your buddy on the other table to pay attention to other customers, my dear.)
Our neighbours have in the meantime chatted about where to go for the next rounds, namely the next bar along. They finish their drinks. They ask for their bill. They pay. €5.75. They give no tip. They leave the bar.
Schatz and I manage to get the waitress’ attention a couple more times. Very kind of her to serve us. Sorry we interrupted her socialising. Very rude.
So fed-up are we of her lack of “customer-oriented attitude,” that we decide to pay up.
“Don’t give her a tip,” I tell Schatz.
“No way!” is the response.
“Elvtas,” our usual waiter walks by. We try to grab him and ask to pay him our bill.
No joy. We have to pay it to the newbie. Leider. 😦
“Ihre Kollegin ist schrecklich!” Schatz tells Elvtas. (“Your colleague is terrible.”)
I impulsively want to hug Schatz. You’re a woman, but you really do have balls. No British “don’t make a fuss” from you.
Our waitress finally comes with the bill, €37.50.
Schatz gives her a €50 note. Pregnant pause from waitress as she starts giving Schatz her change. Notes given back. Then a bit slower, the coins. You’re not getting a cent, meine Liebe. Just be grateful that Schatz has not given you a piece of her mind after you abysmal customer service. All change given back. I stand up and take my pullover. Waitress looks intently at Schatz. Schatz looks at me. I look at the door. Pregnant pause as waitress waits and hopes in vain for her tip.
Finally waitress gives up.
A snarled, “Schönen Abend,” from her, as she heads away, presumably to flirt again with her buddy.
Schatz, I am sehr proud of you.
Have a customer-focussed day, won’t you!