It's been 5 weeks since the German started commuting to München. The commute is supposed to run fro early Monday (leaving before 5 am) until lateish on Thursday (sometimes after 22:00) but a few times it has run into Friday.
Last night was one of those and when he got in, very late, we thought twice about joining some other expat bloggers for a mini-meet-up in Hannover (about a 2.5 hour ride from here). When I heard early in the day that he would be late, I had already called and cancelled the hotel room, as 18:00 was the deadline and I knew he wouldn't be back until much later. We decided to sleep on it, set an alarm, and decide whether it made sense to leave at 7 am.
We did in fact get up at 6:30 (Thing1 gave us no choice), but the German begged to be allowed to sleep and I did accede to his request (and you can bet that I will be sleeping in tomorrow, at least as much as possible). We gave our friend Alice in NRW a call to break the news, only to find out that she and her son had strep and that they had cancelled as well. When I called Christina to apologize at 10, when we were to meet, I discovered that two other couples had cancelled and I felt just awful about it.
But the commuter marriage is really dragging me down. It's all the little things. I am tremendously grateful that the girls are in kita, so I can run errands, get some groceries, go to the doctor, go the the car shop, deal with some stuff. But on the other hand, I always need to get up early and I always need to get them in to bed alone (hard with Thing2, who still naps and thinks that since it's still light at 22:00, she can wander out of bed and say she needs the toilet. Sometimes 4 times within the hour).
And the girls miss him, especially Thing2, who sometimes has meltdowns about his morning absences. I have no help tidying up after them, or amusing them, or with any of the things that he is alwys so very helpful with. I am much more tired than I would have thought and sometimes need to remember that I was extremely ill not so long ago. This week's 5th day just kicked my tush.
So instead of meeting fellow American's, Canadian and USian for the 4th, we went to a biergarten in Dahlem to have a Turkey salad, baby potatoes, pommes and an ice (with the girls playing between eating).
Interesting note: here was the second time in 8 days that a waiter in Berlin has cheated us.
The first time was last week. Alice (who was in Berlin with husband and kids for 2 days) had lunch with me at a place around the corner that we frequently go to, often with the kids, so we know it is family friendly and have enjoyed it. The baby had a fuss and we decided to eat at her apartment so the children could go down. They went ahead and I remained to pay the bill, which I did, with a nice tip. I was in a hurry because as folks know, getting something wrapped to go here in Germany is not a fast activity.
As I walked to Alice's place, I started thinking about the amount of the bill and not being happy. I had taken the receipt and when I started reading it (while crossing streets and walking) I became quite angry when I realized that we had been billed incorrectly in three items, resulting in an overcharge of 4€ (more than 12%). I tipped more than 4€ and it was quite clear to me that the waitress had billed herself a good tip, expecting me not to tip. 4€ was not enough to make me go back and yell at the waitress, but it was enough to make me angry and resentful. I will remember that waitress and now I understand the expression on her face at my answer to her question as to where I was from, when I answered: A few blocks away, I eat here regularly.
Today, at the Biergarten in Dahlem, the German paid the bill while I was rounding the kids up and getting their socks and shoes on. When he got back, I asked him what the bill had been and when he told me the answer I said that the bill was incorrect and asked to see it. Another waiter had attempted to give us a Bolognese, so I assumed they had added that to the bill incorrectly.
I asked to see our copy of the bill and when the German told me that the waiter had simply told him the amount, I knew that the overbilling had been deliberate: our order was taken on a handheld device that itself prints out the rechnung. When the German discussed the bill with the waiter, a "mistake" of 3.5€ was "discovered. Since, once again, he had tipped 4€, it was again clear that the waiter had chosen to "tip" himself about 15%. The German was aghast. Since he did all the ordering and this was in a neighborhood local, I can't even blame this on the desire to rip off tourists: it's just a clear trend.
I think that we are going to become more German in our ways. I will know read my bill very closely, no matter how crowded or tired I am, and my new plateau will be the German no-tip, with only extraordinary friendliness and/or helpfulness making me tip above the round-up. I'm just tired of the crap. This never happened to me in the US, although I know it does. And two times in one week!
Moving onward to the injury:
We then went to T1's lieblingsplace: the marienkafer spielplatz otherwise known as Ikea(because the Smaland inside uses the ladybug as their logo). In the parkinglot T2 ran under my feet and I went down hard: so hard, that passersby stopped to ask if they could call for help (perhaps it was my scream, followed by whimpering and ankle clutching?). I didn't really notice as I was busy pressing very hard against the ligaments on both sides of my right ankle- the one without the very painful heel spur- and praying that it wasn't broken. It wasn't, but omigosh it is sprained. After I was through whimpering we limped our way in and signed the girls in for their hour of joy and we went upstairs to split a soda and chat.
Afterward, off to our evening's entertainment of shopping at the suburban (yet still in the huge city that Berlin is) mecca of Kaufland. One hour+ later, with a shopping cart piled above and below, the cost was about that of my little wheelie bin from Lidl in the center of the city. It's a beautiful thing to have a car when shopping and now I am stocked up on boxed tomatoes, pasta and such like. We didn't go to Selgros because I also wanted to stock up on milk and H-milk and they don't have Bio full milk or H-milk.
Then home and so tired that after we put the children to bed I forgot to set the DVR to record the celebrations in NYC. :(. This year was especially exciting because it's the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's exploration of the river, so I am disappointed.
But then to bed, with a compress on my foot and a few tablets of ibuprophen.