A foreigner walks into a bar. There are two patrons, a bartender and a 3-legged dog. No one speaks a word of English. The foreigner needs to make a phone call, but doesn’t know if they need to dial anything to make an outside call. Foreigner opts to hand the number to the bartender, point to the phone and say, “Bitte” (please). Bartender agrees to make call for the foreigner.
So I call my friend Megan to let her know that I’ve made it to the station and she can come pick me up from the Air Force Base any time she feels like it. She let’s me know that she’ll be there in 20 minutes. I figure that gives me enough time to have a beer and for the first time in hours, absorb the fact that I’m in Germany. I go up to the bar and point to the beer taps and just say “Bier Bitte.” The bartender nods her head, grabs a small pilsner glass and begins to pour my beer. In typical German fashion, the bartender poured a little bit, let the head settle, and then would start the cycle over. In typical American fashion, I just wanted to say, “Pour the head out as you pour, I don’t care,” but then I realized I’d be nothing more than the stupid American yelling in a language the bartender didn’t understand, and I still wouldn’t have my beer. So I let her continue her painfully slow pour. Every time she’d pour a little bit of the beer, she’d walk in back and do something. A few minutes later she’d come back, pour some more, and head to the back. It took almost 20 minutes for her to pour a few ounces of beer for me. The two old men at the bar had some chuckles at my expense. At least I think they did, they would look at me, say something to each other and then laugh. Hell, I wanted to laugh at how ridiculous this wait was turning into. What more should I expect when I walk into a bar that has the makings of a bad joke. I kept looking behind me, expecting a horse to walk in and the bartender to ask in German, “Why the long face?”
I finally get my beer, head outside to sit at a table. Just as I’m about to bring the glass to my lips, my friend pulls up and yells for me to bring my bags over. I slam my beer in 2 gulps. I feel a bit guilty, all the time and effort it took to pour it, took me 2 seconds to drink. I felt like I should have appreciated it a bit more, but didn’t have the stamina to care. Absorbing Germany would have to come later.
Moral of the story: If you’re going to act like a tourist, you’ll be treated like a tourist. Make sure to find the humour in it. I know I did.