Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mistakes were made.

Ich: 'Entschuldigung. Ich habe mich getäuscht'.  I'm sorry. I made a mistake/I was wrong.
Sie: 'So ist das. Die Deutschen täuschen sich oft.' That's how it is.  Germans often make mistakes/are wrong.

I'd say homegirl made a mistake as I am not German.  I always find it interesting when Swiss Germans think I'm German.  I don't flatter myself by thinking that my German is so stellar that I can pass for a native speaker.  It would seem that some Swiss Germans don't have much contact, I guess, with actual native German speakers from north of the border, so that they confuse me for one.  It's either that or they must think I'm from some part of Germany where people make a lot grammatical errors and have a funny accent.  Where would that be?  Fehlerstadt?   In the land of Amistein? 

I thought her response to my admitting fault humourous.  What prompted the above short exchange is not so funny, however.  Toward the end of my shift today at the Chleider-Lädeli a couple of very intoxicated women came in to look for winter garments and sleeping-bags.  The two were a bit volatile and, truly, did not give a fuck.  My co-worker and I thought it best to let them browse on their own and we returned to unpacking the mound of donations piled high in the middle of the floor.  At one point one of the women came to me and asked if she could take a wheelie bag for shopping that she'd found.  I had mistakenly thought that the bag was part of the mound of donations and gave her the affirmative.  Some time later I returned from taking out the trash to find a bundled-up, bespectacled, older woman, head covered in a scarf, crying by the front door.  Beyond her I could see one of the drunk ladies yelling that the wheelie bag was HERS and that this woman had tried to take it from her.  Instantly, I knew I that that bag belonged to the woman with the head scarf and that I had made a mistake.  Trying to rectify the situation, I told the Swiss woman that she could not have the bag as it belonged to the other woman.  'NO! It's MINE!' came the response.  As I tried to shepherd out the woman with her wheelie bag the outraged, intoxicated woman thought it best to stop us.  Getting as close as she could to the crying woman, for I was standing between them with one arm raised in order to block the interaction, she began to rant.  That only produced more tears from wheelie-bag woman.  I then called for back-up from the main office.  Help came promptly and the irate woman was made to go outside and 'talk it out'.  Before talking came yelling and, occasionally, pounding on the glass door to be let back in.  All the while the woman whose bag it was sat and quietly cried.  I patted her back gently and told her that it would be all right.  I don't think that she believed me.  Worse for her is that she is one of a few clients who don't speak German and there was no one in the shop at the time who could speak with her.  I switched from German to English, as I do when I am stressed, and kept repeating 'it's going to be all right'.  It probably did me more good than her.  Poor thing.

In the end, all was all right.  The woman left with her wheelie bag after the Swiss woman was made to apologise.  A co-worker sat with her at the bus stop while she waited for the no. 33 to take her home. 

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