My roommate didn’t tell me he as baked until we were in the cafe at Ikea. I had wondered why he was so spaced out while he was giving me directions to Ikea. I was behind the wheel of a Renault Kangoo, and hadn’t really anticipated driving stick on the Autobahn on this fine Saturday afternoon. I think I’m still stuck in the mental attitude of being a bad driver when it comes to Manual Transmission, but I managed the trip without a hitch, and as I merged onto the Autobahn, pushing the engine that felt as though it would have rather napped on this Saturday in September, I started laughing to myself and whistling “Autobahn.” I figured it was time to give my roommate the dossier on me. I explained what I was doing here, and my relationship to Germany and why merging onto the Autobahn was a emotionally charged moment for me.
Once at Ikea things quickly turned all too familiar. An ikea is an ikea, except in this case it was the most crowded ikea I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to the one in College Park, Maryland in early August. Ikea is seen not as a cheap alternative, but a good value in Germany, I think. That’s what I’ve gathered for talking with a few Germans. When you buy property in Germany, form an apartment to a house, it is usually “Kalt” (cold) which means there are no fixtures of any kind in the kitchen, bathroom, etc. and you have to outfit all this yourself. So you end up with very modular bathrooms, and relatively modular kitchens. A lot of residents leave shit behind when you’re dealing with flatmates, etc., and it’s not uncommon for members of a WG (flatshare) to go in together on a dishwasher or other major appliance.
Fortunately, we were only there for a few items, my roommate seems genuinely astonished at how good my German is, versus his after living here for a few years, but he has no interactions with German speakers, as he’s a consultant in a largely English speaking company.
We got what we needed, and then at check out, the woman at the Kasse explained to me that it would be an hour wait before my items would be ready. She told me this in a funny way, “first you will load your car, then have a cigarette, then eat a sausage, then go for a walk, and then your things will be ready.” I followed the whole thing which felt really good, and we did some of her prescribed activities. We also discovered that Ikea has it’s own beer, so we had one of those and watched the monitor with the numbers. We sat there for an hour watching my number creep toward the top, and then it went down. And then down further. Something wasn’t right, I had not properly understood this process. There was a small word above the numbers “Abholbereit” Now I know bereit is ready. And I looked up “Abhol.” Ready for collection. The box containing my bed frame had been sitting waiting for us the entire time we were drinking beer and shooting the shit. Luckily I got to know my roommate a bit, and he’s alright. He’s only spent 1 night in the apartment because his job keeps him on the move, and he has cleanliness concerns just like me.
He has lived with a female counterpart, and I don’t want to be perpetuating stereotypes, but I think that helps a man clean his act up.
Now my room is mine, my bed, my mattress, my sheets, a rug to make it feel less empty. Sadly I wasn’t notified of one essential piece that I need so my mattress will sit on the floor till Monday, but in the meantime this is now a room I wouldn’t mind spending a cold afternoon in.
Off for a group bike ride that will end at a Fall festival in Erding. I’ve also been given a tip that watching familiar movies in German without subtitles is very helpful. So tonight will either be Star Wars, Back to the Future, or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Movies I know by heart. I wonder if Topsy Turvy has a German language dub.