While shopping a few weeks ago for a new wardrobe, my husband and I passed through the vacuum cleaner section and I noticed all of them were the old-style canister vacs. I asked him, “Are all the vacuums like this?” He said, “Sure. Aren’t they the same in the States?” I said, “No. They’re all one unit that you lean back, start, and push around rather than having to drag the canister behind you.” His reply… “Ohhhh! The really old style ones? We had those when I was a child!” I explained that Americans had the canister style ones when I was a child and then we got smart and moved to an upright. I absolutely cannot begin to tell you how cranky it makes me to vacuum with this thing. I loathe it. If I thought it had feelings (and snot) I’d kick the snot out of it every time I looked at it just for the fact that it has the audacity to occupy space in my house. And all the millions of times that the canister gets caught on something or the hose knocks something over while I’m vacuuming, all I want is to pick it up and toss it out the window while I question my sanity and allow four-letter words to run through my brain.
This led me to make a list of all the things I miss most about the States. And please don’t misunderstand. I love Germany, but no country is without its flaws.
So here it is, in no particular order… the things I miss most:
3. Closets – The German says German houses are too small for closets, but oddly enough they find room for 1 or 2 wardrobes in the bedrooms sooooooo…. what’s the problem?
4. Garbage Disposals
5. Electrical Outlets actually INSIDE the bathroom
6. Being able to say, “I need to use the restroom” rather than having to make the very crude statement, “I need to use the toilet.”
7. Long showers – Water is expensive here. Rather than enjoying a long, hot shower, I get wet, turn off the water, lather up, turn the water back on, and rinse. Good times.
8. Free water in restaurants. Yeah. You read that right. I prefer to drink water. It’s better for you and it’s free at restaurants in the States so your dinner bill is cheaper. Not here. If you want water, you get half a liter (16 ounces) and you pay in Euros what equals out to about $3.41. Oh, and when you run out, be prepared to dole out another $3.41 because refills ain’t free even for water.
9. The second kitchen sink. Yep. You only get the right side of the kitchen sink. The left side isn’t a sink. It’s a flat metal piece with a drain that you can put your clean dishes on without having to use a towel or dish container. I don’t even mind not having a dishwasher. I’ve lived without one for years, but please, someone bring me the other half of my kitchen sink!
10. American TV shows that aren’t dubbed in German (Thank you, mom, for shipping The Big Bang Theory for my birthday. I can’t wait for it to get here!)
11. American beds with a metal frame high enough to store things under it and box springs. I don’t want a 6″ thick mattress with nothing more than wooden slats holding it up.
12. Not having to say goodbye (tschuess) to EVERYONE. It’s horribly impolite not to say goodbye, and my poor German has had to remind me of this a few times. On Saturday we were at the butcher getting what Germans consider to be breakfast food (it wasn’t). One shopper left and another shopper who didn’t appear to know the person leaving and hadn’t once spoken to him the whole time he had been in the butchers said, “TSCHUESS!” I looked at my husband and said, “SERIOUSLY?! You guys are all crazy!”
13. American breakfast. We were out of town this past weekend and on our way to an amusement park on Saturday morning. I told my guy, “Hey… I need breakfast. I can’t trek through an amusement park without some nourishment.” So he pulled up in front of a bakery filled with brezen (soft pretzels), other fresh bread, cheese, and pastries. I’m sorry… where can I find some meat and eggs? And could you throw it in one of those fresh rolls, please? I looked at him, puzzled, and said, “I can’t eat all this bread or pastries for breakfast. My blood sugar will make a hole in the floor in two hours and I’ll be chewing on my arm!” So after our purchase we went to the butcher. We wound up with 2 brezen, 1 roll with a few slices of cheese in it, and two rolls each with a few slices of salami. All cold, no eggs, and one very dissatisfied Arkansan.
14. And of course, upright vacuum cleaners. I miss them most of all.
To my surprise, not having a clothes dryer didn’t make the list. I thought I’d hate it. I thought it would be terrible to have to hang up all our clothes, but it doesn’t bother me at all. And having a small dorm-room-sized refrigerator isn’t an issue, either. We make it work. And really, I’m so happy here. If I were any happier, I couldn’t tolerate it. I’d have to be scraped off the walls on a regular basis, but I do miss some of the luxuries of home.