Wednesday, August 5, 2009


[ Excuse me ]

The evening before I had a bit of a dillemma. I was planning on using my cell phone from America as an alarm clock, but with no service, it was frozen at 6:19 pm when I shut it off on the flight. I had to get up early for language school so I didn't know what to use - and there it was on my books, my nintendo DS case. I had brought it since I use it with a Japanese dictionary cartridge. [ If you don't know me, I think that just begins to depict my personality to you... ]. So I set the alarm for 6, ample time to get up and make sure that nothing could go wrong before class started at 8:30. Always set a good impression, esspecially a pünktlich one for the Germans.

I woke up early, showered, packed my bag, had some tea... everything was great. I waited around for someone in the house to wake up. No one had showed me where the bus stop was... I just assumed that it would happen in the morning. Actually, I hadn't even asked about it at night. Well, we all know what happens when you assume. It was 7:15 and no one was up... and I vaguely remembered that there were two busses every hour... on the 20 and the 50... It takes well over 10 minutes to walk down the hill from Triller... At this point what would a normal person do - probably wake up their host family, be a nuisance, but arrive ontime at school. What does Chris do? - paces nervously, grabs bag, grabs apple, grabs untouched, unviewed map - runs out front door which proceeds to lock behind him... the point of no return...

I briskly walked - where... good question - and came to a fork in the road... left, why not... and kept walking. I was looking at the map, and the map had bus stops marked, but I couldn't figure out what went where... it was only the downtown, not the entire city. Do I want the blue line, green... red? I ended up getting to a bus stop, and it was well passed when the first bus would have left. There was only going to be one more bus to make it to school ontime... all or nothing.

There were posted signs with times and bus stops, but I was lost. There was an older woman at the bus stop with dark maroon dyed hair. I figured I should ask her for any kind of assistance... excuse me... excuse me.... ....


how do you say excuse me in German?!?!

words flowed through my head.

przepraszam... Polish no good...

anteeksi ... Finnish... no good either...

すみません?!?!?!.... やだ---!! .... よくない

how did I get to Germany and not know how to say EXCUSE ME????

So I looked at the woman, probably like a deer in the headlights:


I had just said hello to a woman with a rising, questioning voice... believe me, it sounded as out of place and awkward as it sounds.

"Sprechen Sie Englisch???"

shakes head no

Ich gehe zu Carl Duisburg Center für der Deutschkurs...

She pointed to the list which said Carl Duisburg Haus and shrugged...

It wasn't the same.... In America I would assume a center was different from a haus.
I had done enough assuming already.... the bus was coming... just get on.... sign of the cross.

From the bus stop I was at, to this so called Carl Duisburg Haus was 23 minutes... a pretty agonizing time to be sitting and not knowing where you are going. At the end of the time - I checked my watch often - there it came, the Carl Duisburg Center from two days before with bright yellow window panels. Well, it wasn't stress-free, but I got to the class with just a few minutes to spare.

Once I sat down, with a pretty decent story to share, there was a blue bag at my seat with papers inside. From here everything made sense. Due to the wedding, I had missed the entire orientation yesterday, including distribution of paperwork. Within my pack was a nice piece of paper -Saarbahn - with my name, an exact bus stop, my bus number, how many minutes it would take to walk to the stop, and when the bus left.... Now that was the great German efficiency that would have been handy for the morning, and also why my host family assumed I was good on my own. And actually after doing the bus once, and understanding the system, it is actually great. With my bus pass, I can get around all over the city very conveniently. After a little practice with some German that morning, class was about to begin. Maybe there I would learn entschuldigung.


  1. goodness chris, only you. haha. ;)

  2. ahahahaha. I second that comment.

  3. what i wanted to say has already been said :]

  4. I love the way you write about your experiences! I get immersed in it and without thinking I was laughing out loud while I was reading - thanks, you put a smile on my face this morning. :)

  5. wow chris! like "g" said, only you, but im glad everything worked out!!

  6. You are a world traveler like no other. Your angels are with you and seem to help St. Christopher with watching over you...what an awesome namesake for you to have with the life you are living! Doesnt surprise me that you get to where you need to be!!! Love and miss you terribly. Thanks for making me laugh, I've really enjoyed the reading thus far and look forward to all the future blogs.