Friday, November 30, 2007

i know i know - you don't post anymore - you don't love me

My schedule has been a little hectic lately. I was in Zaragoza, Spain for a week performing a security assessment and obviously wandering the city. I love Spain - I will be back. The food was amazing (hand motion), the people were friendly (I was labeled a "kissy slut" because I enjoyed the european kiss on both cheeks so much), did I mention the food was amazing.

My Spanish slowly began what we fondly called Sprench by the end of the week. I learned to speak French when I was younger - unfortunately when I have had a round or two and the brain gets slightly twisted I assume that you can use French for Spanish. So when I couldn't think of the word in Spanish and there were several I couldn't think of I used french. Makes for interesting conversation with people - fortunately at one point in my adventures there was a french man with us and he and I stood in the corner speaking a foreign language I can sort of communicate in. Please remember that my French still brings a smile, not quite the laughter that my broken German brings people. The party I was with wouldn't allow me to grab my translator so we stumbled along in my broken Spanish and there english. Red wine and tapas will make everything good. After a wonderful week I headed back to Germany.

Ahh Germany how I had missed you so. I landed in Nuremberg (N├╝rnberg) a little over an hour late. I had stopped in Frankfurt at the Hertz rental and had them confirm for me that my rental car was waiting for me in Nuremberg airport. Sometimes I worry about silly things like this. The pretty young lady smiled at me, checked the reservation, said things were good and I wandered off to find my plane. I arrive in Nuremberg excited to go jump into the BMW 7 that I had rented previously from Hertz.

Instead here's the conversation I had with the Hertz girl.

me: "Hi I am Ward Spangenberg. here's my confirmation and my Gold Card Number."

her: "You're late."

me: "Well yes I am."

her: "We don't have a car for you."

me: "umm I confirmed in Frankfurt that you had a car for me. I have a confirmation number. I am a Gold member. Where's my car?"

her: "We don't have a car for you. You were late."

me: "I understand I am late. That's part of why we use credit cards and join the Gold service is so that you guarantee the car will be here for me."

her: "We don't have a car for you. You were late."

me: "So what do you suggest I do"

her: "Rent from someone else."

me: "alrightie then - thanks for your help"

her: "danken sie. auf Wiedersehen."

I kid you not. A friend would tell me later that weekend to remember that in Germany, "you are paying for the service, not the customer service." It should be noted that my brain is a bit weak on exact quote that J provided me with but hey you get the idea.

I wandered over to Avis and they had a car I could rent. I ended up with an Audi A3 from Avis. A cute little Audi with enough pep and most importantly a navi system.

I grabbed my friend, who in a week's time had managed to garner one new nickname from our client "demon" and meet a wunderbar Glas washer - no good german translation for that. We jumped in the card and headed off to Dresden for the 3rd Whiney Expat German Meetup. That by the way is not an exact description about this group of people. I don't think we whined at all the whole weekend. Well I may have but I am just a big baby.

Half way to Dresden I gave up the car keys so my buddy could drive on the Autobahn. Somewhere in that I tweeted with worry about "Demon" having that maniacal look in his eyes and the speedometer pegged. On the return I heard him mumble something like, "it won't go any faster - I have had the pedal stuck to the floorboards since we got outside of Dresden." (I took some creative license with his mumbling.)

We arrived safely in Dresden and wandered off to find the other Expats at the ice cream shop. Umm yummy ice cream - so I ordered a cappuccino.

After introductions - meaning I walked right into the middle of the people speaking english and said, "Hi I am Ward". I naturally assume that everyone no matter where I am in the world knows the "Big Dumb American" (need to trademark that - hmm wait did I just trademark that.) Guess what I am not near as famous in reality as I am in "ward's world."

Needless to say we were off and running. I am sure I scared a couple of people - it could have been me talking about all the scary things that "Demon" and I do with security - or it could be that I am a BDA. Everyone was polite and slowly slid away from me.

Our illustrious leader J arrived and the group wandered into the streets. You now have 10-15 (counting has never been my strong suit) americans/canucks wandering the streets of Dresden. We were also graced with two very tolerant germans.

I have several pictures. Here is one of my favorites as wandered along towards the river and our boat trip.


I can't say enough about how wonderful it was to meet everyone. The entire group brought new perspectives, insights and humor to the meetup. I have received several compliments in their posts about the weekend. I thank all of you. There are several memories from the weekend - others have put them to words - I have just cataloged them for reference in my future stories. Literally translated this means Ward really needs to start carrying his Moleskin with him again and taking notes.

It was a blast to meet the people behind the blogs - I get sort of star struck when meeting writers. I consider myself a hack and follow bloggers who write far better than I do. My fond hope is to one day be one of those bloggers people refer to and laugh about. You guys all rock - thanks for letting the BDA and the LDA follow along (little dumb american - he is really a medium - so going forward I will stop with the jokes about his learning disability aardvark.)

So where was I?

Oh so Sunday rolled around and MDA and I jumped in the car - and as stated before barreled down the Autobahn towards Herzo and my apartment. I went to sleep - I wasn't driving what do you expect from me?

Monday morning creeped around and we both caught planes back to the states. Details that should be mentioned here include the fact that we visited the neighborhood mexican restaurant and drank towards stupidity. Hint: don't tell a German bartender his drinks are weak.

We hit the states for T-day, me appearing on television to talk about the scary things called RFID (still waiting for them to put the video up - will link later) and me cutting down a Christmas tree.



I will leave you here. More misadventure on the return trip to Germany to follow.


J said...

Good summary. Thanks for including the Christmas tree part - I love Christmastime.

Don't expect customer service to get any better in Germany. I do hope you reported Hertz Girl to Hertz.

The Meet-Up was a blast and I hope that you attend next year's also - wherever it may be.

ian in hamburg said...

Hi Ward,
Great to meet you in Dresden! The crowd is patiently awaiting video linkage to your time on TV talking about the evils of microwavable chips.
ian in hamburg
PS: I've inserted that link because google - trying not to be evil but failing - quietly decided last week to block all / blogspot bloggers from leaving a normal link back in their name when commenting. I hope you don't mind. Please screw up their credit cards for me if you get a chance, mkay?