January 2010


4,450 Miles From Your Door: Expect a Break-In…

I’m happy to report that I had a great day yesterday, save for two points, having traveled from Germany’s worst city to, uh…, Indiana’s largest formation that closest resembles a city, known as Indianapolis.

Actually let me back up one half step – really my whole trip has been great, except for two points, which I will get to.

First off, despite being in Frankfurt, I had a nice time. I sat in the nose of the train from Weimar to Frankfurt, so I was able to watch the tracks. My hotel room was large and spacious, despite being next to (female) strip clubs. And I had dinner at a restaurant that I’d be willing to go back to, and it was reasonably priced.

Despite the fact that it was a themed restaurant, complete with sand on the floor, named, Im Herzen Afrikas. It was actually a bargain: for groups larger than two you can order a group dish where you can sample a variety of foods for the low, low price of only 10€ per person, plus whatever you happen to drink. Our large plate contained lamb, chicken, spinach, lentils, potatoes, carrots, and salad. There was far more than we could possibly manage to eat.

I believe I’ve left something out, what is it…

Oh yes, I was eating with Jen, better known as Resident on Earth!

She’d left an immediate impression on me a couple months ago because when I discovered her blog I experienced déjà vu, all over again! No, it was not the matrix reloading, but she uses the same template for her blog that I use. This was the first time I’d ever seen my template being used by another person—until a week or two later when I realized that the OutSports.com Jock Talk Blog also uses it.

Anyhow, I want to point out that she’s cool and fun to talk to—and has great taste in restaurants, since she was the one who suggested Im Herzen Afrikas. Honestly, it’s the first place I’ve been in Frankfurt that I would enthusiastically and heartily recommend going back to. Every other restaurant that I’ve returned to has only happened because it was the least worst looking option that I could find.

So for the first time in forever, I actually enjoyed my evening in Frankfurt.

In the morning I made my way to the airport to check my bag and board a largish tube to America. Really, the flight was unremarkable. My meals weren’t great, but they weren’t bad, the seat was fine, and I shared a row of four seats with only one other person; a guy who happens to be a player for one of Germany’s National Sport Teams! I was, essentially, next to a celebrity!

I didn’t really talk to him because (a) he’s German, (b) he’s a (minor) celebrity, (c) he was at the far end of my row, (d) I didn’t know his name because I honestly didn’t know his sport existed until I saw them waiting to get on the plane, and (e) I was jackass shy and should have talked to him.

Wait, I should explain – I’ve done a tiny bit of research and the team was on their way to the 2010 Knock and Roll Tournament.

He is an elite athlete for Germany’s Wheelchair Rugby Team.

Honestly, this was the first time I’ve ever seen so many people in wheelchairs that required them at both ends of the flight (lots of people need them to get on the plane, first, and then walk off at the other end) and weren’t white haired and fragile: These guys were strong, athletic, and, uh… in a couple of cases genuinely geil.

These are men ready to play murderball:

Wheelchair Rugby, also known as “Murderball,” is the only full-contact wheelchair sport in the world today. It is a very exciting sport to watch and play, in part because of the games aggressive nature and allowed contact between wheelchairs. It is played indoors on a basketball court with minor changes; players pass a volleyball back and forth while advancing into the opponent’s half-court. While the offense is trying to advance the ball, the defense is trying to take it away and keep the other team from scoring. A common defensive tactic is to ram ones wheelchair into an opponent, at speed, in an attempt to knock them out of bounds or flip them over. The fast pace and hard hits of the sport always keep spectators wanting more.

Anyhow, the flight itself was great—I got a ton of work done. Thankfully I had power at my seat because from about 10,000 feet on the way up until somewhere over the northeastern United States, I pretty much worked—save for lunch and a brief nap.

I flew through Customs and Immigration (despite having checked a bag), made my connection and got to Indianapolis where I got my bag, got a car, and got to my friend’s house without any problems.

Now if you want to read about my problems, one a pedantic rant and the other about the break-in, click through)

But now for the two problems, one minor and one where I would thank Gott (if I believed in such a character) for my great friends and colleagues back in Germany.

First off, the minor problem: I flew an American flagged carrier to the United States, and I, therefore, at check-in, had an interview with a “security” “specialist”. Because I made a throwaway remark about airlines and which airline was flying my flight, she threatened to involve her supervisor—but then decided against it.

I’ll readily admit that I was being pedantic, but technically speaking, my flight was not operated by the airline whose flight number I was flying—there’s a merger involved here: I was flying (fake name here, and even if you know the real name, please do not use it in the comments) Change Air Lines, but the flight was operated by its wholly owned subsidiary that used to be another independent airline—Call it Change Air Lines North. It even says so right on the boarding card and whenever you view the itinerary online.

She claimed that Change Air Lines was operating my flight, and I pointed out that factually and technically she was wrong, which was something she didn’t want to hear. Technically speaking, Change Air Lines doesn’t fly the kind of airplane that I flew (yet). Technically speaking I was flying on a plane flown by Change Air Lines North crews, with Change Air Lines North flight attendants.

We then got into a minor argument over liquids because when I said I was carrying toothpaste and it was in my briefcase, she thought I said it was in my check-in luggage. She apparently couldn’t listen, can’t think, and is probably not actually qualified for her job—which is pretty sad because I suspect that you probably don’t even need a Dipolm to work as an airport security interviewer.

The second problem, which was major, I was blissfully ignorant of until I decided to check my email at 9pm, local time, which was about 3am in Germany, which resulted in me (a) freaking out, (b) panicking, and (c) trying to call a couple of friends while they were asleep.

If you recall, and I know you all do (if you’ve made it this far into this thing), I had trouble back in December when my downstairs neighbor reported a wet ceiling. The plumber came, decided there wasn’t a problem (with zero evidence of a water leak from inside my apartment). Apparently the neighbor reported the spot was getting bigger and so the powers that be decided they wanted to view the problem from inside my apartment.

Of course, I’m not there.

And they want to look Right Now.

I probably should have left contact details, but I didn’t think anything like this would come up—but I had never bothered to tell my secretary all the information about who was going to be watching my apartment and who had a key for my apartment while I was gone. This meant that the hausmeister was going to break in at 0930 Thursday morning, a mere six hours from when I read the emails informing me about the impending break-in.

I freaked out and tried to call people (they probably are pissed at me) and texted another friend (who is probably pissed at me) because, well, I was freaking out.

It’s tough to figure out what to do when you’re 4,450 miles from home, exhausted, and have six hours to prevent a break-in.

Despite all of this, I went to bed at 10, local time, and slept like a rock with fascinating dreams until about 2:15, which was a mere hour and a quarter before the break-in. I woke up and was feeling pretty relaxed, the way I feel after a hard sleep, and felt that way for about 3 minutes before I recalled the troubles, and then I freaked out again.

Thankfully it seems like disaster was averted: my friend with the key showed up in time and they’ve decided, yet again, that it wasn’t a leak originating in my apartment.

And if you’ve made it this far, thanks! You’ve just read more than 1,400 words about some very boring things.

11 comments to 4,450 Miles From Your Door: Expect a Break-In…

  • Prashanth

    I think legally a hausmeister can “break-in” in case of an emergency. Given that the water was dripping, they would have considered it as an emergency.

    in any case…I think your minor problem would’ve become a major problem, if not for ur luck!

  • Reko


    Hi! Just to let you know: I read the WHOLE thing. Welcome to the United States of America. Please give me a call when you have a chance.

  • Reko

    P.S. u da MAN

  • G

    How damnably annoying. I don’t even think my hausmeister has a key to my place- does yours? Would they have had a locksmith open it up and then had to rekey it? Glad it all worked out so well- when we go to the US, we don’t actually leave keys with anyone at all, so we definitely would have had our privacy infringed upon!

  • mateo

    Sorry the trip hasn’t been trouble free, but at least it sounds pretty decent so far. Hope the rest all goes as planned and is enjoyable for you!

  • Ugh!

    We have had a couple instances of our heater acting up — going into panic mode, heating non-stop full blast — while out shopping. In case this happens while we’re away, we’ve asked a trusted pal in the area to check our place a few times. We do her the courtesy of rescuing her car from spring flooding in their underground parking, so it’s a nice trade. I like having neighbors like that. The idea of someone else coming in is distasteful to me, too. It could have happened in our old place, but (probably) never did. Not sure what would happen in an emergency situation at our new place…probably another housemeister/landlady break-in situation.

    Greetings from DFW OTWT PVR!

  • Pseudo Wife

    Glad your only a few states away instead of a few states, an ocean and a few countries! Sorry to hear the trip over wasn’t as relaxing as it could have been. Have fun in IN–“back home again…” ATL is waiting…

  • Jen

    See, Frankfurt isn’t so bad if you go to the right places. 😉 Thanks for meeting up with me and sharing a meal without utensils.

  • Prashanth – I slept like crap much of my first night here, worried about what was happening. Thankfully it’s all worked out, although apparently there is a problem leak somewhere in the space behind my kitchen, so they are working there today. Happily I am not there.

    Reko – I can’t wait to see you!

    G – I think they would have had a locksmith rekey the apartment and then I would have had to get the new key upon my return to Weimar. I actually always leave a key with somebody when I go away for more than a couple of days — mainly asking them to pick up my mail and to throw away any werbung that slips past my no werbung signs…

    mateo – Actually it’s been a fantastic trip! Today I’m having lunch with Koko and Boy at a Thai restaurant. I’m looking forward to it. And I’m looking forward to seeing you as well.

    Cliff – I’m glad your trip is going well. Fortunately I have friends who I trust and can leave my key with. I actually have a key for another friend’s apartment that I always have. Sometimes when I look at it, I forget what the key is for and have to think about it.

    Pseudo Wife – I’m looking forward to seeing you! Give your real husband my warm regards 🙂

    Jen – The meal was great – much better, IMHO, than the Ethiopian restaurant we ate at in Munich during the last meet-up.

  • i went to indianapolis once and i have never seen so many falling-down drunk people in my life. (i was not amongst them)

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