Another week has passed, here in the land of perpetual COVID-19 lockdowns. Angela Merkel has managed to get a law passed that gives the federal government in Germany the ability to set emergency COVID-19 conditions for the entire country. Since vaccines are still very slowly rolling out here, there are many areas of “high infection” rates. That means, that in addition to the crap that’s been happening since November 2020, we now have curfews from 10pm to 5am, with exceptions allowed for medical emergencies, exercise, reporting to work, or walking alone. Gathering outside of one’s own family is still technically forbidden. And shops and services are mostly closed or offering services by appointment, and only with negative COVID test results.
Meanwhile, Bill has gotten us appointments for either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines on the Wiesbaden installation, although I am not going to get “excited” about it until it becomes more official. What really sucks is that Bill is supposed to leave for another business trip after the shot, so hopefully I won’t get too sickened by it. I will be alone again for about three weeks, like I was in March. And yes, I am pissed about that, since nothing else is open and it’s been ages since we last did anything fun or interesting.
We did have a funny experience yesterday, though. After I dumped the trash into the bins, I checked our mailbox, where I found a coupon from an online wine shop and a notice from DHL that we had a “brief” that needed signing for. I immediately felt a wave of dread, since it’s been my experience that letters that require signatures are not good news. I started thinking about who would be sending us registered mail and why they would be doing it.
It’s true that in the past couple of years, we have been involved in a couple of legal proceedings. Both ended in our favor, more or less. One proceeding wasn’t about us suing or being sued, but Bill was asked to be a witness and testify, which he ended up not having to do, after all. The other was regarding a legal matter we had with our former landlords. 😉
I told Bill about the slip and he got worried, too. We were thinking about any of the scenarios that might prompt registered mail. I wondered if maybe we had gotten a package from a friend of mine in France, or our monthly Ararat box was coming. But the slip said “Brief”, which in German refers to a letter, not a box. So we worried until 11:00am, which was when Bill was supposed to be able to go to the nearest DHL pack station (which are replacing a lot of German post offices) and find out what was up.
Bill came back from the store and gassing up the Volvo about an hour later. My stomach was doing flip flops the whole time as I pictured disaster that would lead to many headaches and heated rantings from yours truly. When he walked into the house, he said that the “letter” wasn’t at the pack station, but he’d go back a couple of hours later to check again.
So there we were, worrying more about the mysterious letter that needed a signature. I even looked up the topic on Toytown Germany, which confirmed that letters you have to sign for are often bad news. But then I remembered a couple of times when I have gotten letters to sign for that were positive or neutral things, and hope crept back into my consciousness. Still, I can’t help but anticipate disasters. It works out well that way. If I’m wrong, I’m happy about it. If I’m right, I’m somewhat mentally prepared.
I was sitting on top of our rarely made bed with freshly laundered sheets when Bill came back the second time. He was holding the May installation of our bubble wrapped Ararat box, which apparently was supposed to be delivered on Friday. I must have been in the backyard, because I was definitely home all day, as usual. We had nice weather, for once, so I probably was sitting on the patio with the dogs and didn’t hear the doorbell. I guess since it came from Armenia and went through customs, we have to sign for the box, although I don’t remember doing it for previous boxes.
Bill said he’d gone to the pack station and, once again, the clerk said she couldn’t find our “letter”. She said it looked like it had been delivered already, and we should check with our neighbor. Ironically, on Friday, I did accept a box for the neighbor. Bill was about to leave when the clerk spotted the box of treats from Armenia and said, “Entschuldigung!” She held up the box and Bill let out a big sigh.
Boy, were we relieved… And how nice it was to get it on Genocide Remembrance Day, which is the day Armenians all over the world remember the millions of people who died during the mass extermination efforts perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks. Every month, we get our Ararat box and I am impressed by the products coming out of Armenia that didn’t exist when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer there. Armenia has come a long way! But then I started thinking about why we were so traumatized by the prospect of signing for a letter in Germany.
Overall, living in Wiesbaden has been a good experience. I do miss how beautiful the Stuttgart area is, and we had a lot of fun down there, dining in many wonderful restaurants, taking trips to the Black Forest and other local areas, and making friends. Wiesbaden is less dramatic, on the whole, and not as pretty, but we’re comfortable here and we’re getting a new experience of living in Germany. It’s definitely different in Hesse, so it’s good that we get to try that. However, we’ve been very stressed out the whole time we’ve been here, for a variety of reasons.
Bill’s job is a good one for him, but it requires a lot of time away. That wasn’t so bad pre-COVID-19. I was even used to it, having been an Army wife and having seen him work at AFRICOM, which also required a lot of travel. He would go to Africa and come back with some novel viral sickness that he’d pass on to me. Then we’d go on a nice trip somewhere, spend a lot of money, eat interesting food, and I could blog about things other than our neighborhood, my dogs, and COVID-19. But now, he just goes to Bavaria for long stints, works his ass off, and comes home exhausted. It sucks for both of us, because these aren’t fun trips and they last way too long. And Bill hasn’t had a break in ages.
I don’t know a lot of people up here. In some ways, that’s good, since there’s also much less stupid drama. However, it would be nice to have a local friend I could hang out with. I get lonely sometimes, and I have little reason to get dressed every day. That’s not what I was planning for myself when I decided to go back to school years ago.
We spent a good portion of our first year here dealing with the trauma caused by our living situation in the Stuttgart area. It took weeks for us to feel comfortable and at home where we live now, and then we had to contend with dealing with our former landlady, who was trying to make us out to be terrible people (which we’re not– especially Bill). She was trying to shame us into letting her steal our security deposit, which she had no legal or proven right to do. So we had to take legal action in Germany, which is something we’ve never had to do anywhere.
That experience clouds what were mostly good years in BW… Overall, I loved living down there. But now we have a bitter taste in our mouths over having to sue… and the memories of the mean and vindictive, shaming behaviors levied at us by someone whom we feel was dishonest and abusive. I am glad we sued. She totally deserved it, and I hope she’s learned from the experience. But it sucked for us. We didn’t take any pleasure in it, and would have preferred not to have felt the need to do it.
Here it is 2021, over two years since we left that place, and we’re still thinking about it and scarred by it… to the point at which getting a notice to sign for a letter makes us nervous. We had no reason to be nervous. Even if it had been legal paperwork, we do have legal insurance and an established relationship with a competent lawyer. But still, that was an emotionally and psychologically trying experience. We are not keen to be involved in anything else involving lawyers… at least not in a country where English isn’t the dominant language. Having to read legalese using Google Translate isn’t fun.
It really doesn’t help that we haven’t been able to get to know and love Wiesbaden over the last thirteen months. Ordinarily, I would have been looking for fun things to do, like I did in the Stuttgart area. But we have no such luck here… so I’ve been buying too much stuff, trying to learn guitar, and daydreaming about trips instead… and reading way too many comments by neurotic Americans.
Ah well. At least we may soon be vaccinated, which could mean trips will be possible again. And when we can go somewhere, I’ll probably drop a lot of money on a really nice experience. So I’ll try to keep hanging on for that reason, and remember that not everything that needs a signature is going to signal doom.