American Expat in Germany Experiences Colossal Misunderstanding at the Dentist’s Office

funny-dentist-braces-picture

“Wait, what’s happening? I just came here to pick up my dry cleaning!” — Photo by Zdenko Zivkovic (http://www.flickr.com/photos/zivkovic/)

Let me begin by saying I’m still pissed about this incident. Over the past few weeks, I’ve waited for my anger to solidify into something useful and constructive — you know, like humor — but I still want to coldcock somebody so hard they wake up in the middle of next week. So please, forgive me if the tone of this post is slightly more aggressive than usual.

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Our story begins in early January of 2014, when I walked into our dentist’s office to make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I’d been to this office several times before, and always relied upon the dentist himself to speak English with me. This time around, however, I was taking a B1 German integration class, which is kind of like saying your German language skills are “intermediate, but you still suck.” Nevertheless, I felt I should have been able to make a simple appointment entirely in German. Here is what was said, if you were to translate everything directly into English:

ME: *Striding confidently up to the reception desk* “Good day to you. I would gladly like to make my teeth scrubbed clean.”

RECEPTIONIST: *A chubby woman with terrible hair and a deviated septum* “Okay. Would you like to have a professional examination with the dentist, or have a professional teeth cleaning?”

ME: *Looking stunned and confused, having only recognized the words ‘dentist’ and ‘teeth’* “Uhhh, it does me sorrow, but I have not correctly understood. I am currently, at this very moment, learning German. Can you that please, slowly repeat?”

*She repeats exactly what she said, at the exact same speed*

ME: “…Yes.”

RECEPTIONIST: “So which one would you like? Do you want to see the dentist for a professional examination?”

ME: “Yes.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Okay, are you available next week at 11:00 am?”

ME: “Yes.” *Pausing uncomfortably, wondering if it had truly been a full year since my last official checkup with the dentist himself, rather than just a 6-month cleaning* “Excuse me please. Is it normally done for me to see the dentist? I want only to make my teeth scrubbed clean.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Yes. It is normal.”

ME: *Thinking to myself, ‘How many ways can one screw up a simple teeth cleaning? Everything’s fine. You’re golden.’* “Very good. Until then. Have a nice day.”

RECEPTIONIST: “Likewise. Goodbye.”

confused-man-funny-nerd-dad

“Sharp objects in my mouth? Poor communication skills? What could go wrong?” — Photo by jonny goldstein (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnygoldstein/)

Now, at this juncture, I would like to clarify the fact that this woman made absolutely no attempt to understand the broken German I was using. I feel I made my intentions clear, but the receptionist was far more concerned with me using the correct technical words than she was with coming to any real understanding. She spoke quickly, did not elaborate or attempt to clarify the terminology used, and did so with a thinly veiled air of condescension. To this day, I hate her guts and hope she sits on a dental drill.

Anyway, I showed up for my appointment the following week — all bright-eyed and full of hope — and was led to the examination room. The dentist came in, glanced inside my mouth and said in passable English, “You grind your teeth. We need to make a night guard for you.”

Before I knew what was happening, the dentist disappeared and some assistant with a cold sore was jamming my pie hole full of pink goo. Apparently it was the material for casting a mold of my teeth, as it quickly solidified and was then removed. I was left to spit out the remaining pieces stuck between my gums into the wash basin beside me.

ASSISTANT: *In German* “Okay. All finished.”

ME: “Wait, what? But I would gladly have my teeth scrubbed… okay. I believe we have a misunderstanding.”

*The assistant went and got the dentist, who returned to the room to find me, a visibly irritated American male, perched on the examination chair like a coiled spring.*

ME: *In English* “Hi Doc. Listen, I don’t know what is going on. I came here today to have my teeth cleaned, and suddenly I’m being fit for a night guard I don’t even want — which insurance may or may not cover, because I have no idea how much it costs — and my teeth are very definitely not being cleaned.”

*The assistant ran in and out of the room a couple times to give the dentist the information on costs and insurance associated with the night guard. Apparently they are €275 euros and ‘probably’ covered.*

DENTIST: “The night guard is necessary. Without it, you will destroy your teeth.”

ME: “We’ve talked about this. I use cheap night guards from the States. They cost $15 and I just use a new one every couple of months. I’ve used night guards from the dentist before — they’re overpriced and they break just as fast as the cheap ones.”

DENTIST: “Well, if you like, we can send a letter to your insurance to see if it would be covered before you pay for it…”

ME: “Doc, I don’t want your night guard at all. Like, not even a little bit. And I don’t want to pay for that pink goo either.”

DENTIST: *Obviously surprised and uncomfortable* “Okay. We will only charge you for the examination and we will get someone in here to clean your teeth right now.”

ME: “Thank you.”

rage-angry-lego-man-funny

“This is me: a HIGHLY agitated manchild.” — Photo by Bill Ward (http://www.flickr.com/photos/billward/)

Now, I don’t typically get angry with healthcare professionals. It takes just the right sequence of events to piss me off — like condescension and linguistic misunderstandings followed by a poor night’s sleep — before I show any real anger. But when I do, I’ve been told it’s pretty scary.

So with great haste, the dentist sent someone in to clean my teeth, and guess who it was? The receptionist who made this jacked up appointment in the first place. She proceeded to explain to me — in rapid German, and with her hands perched on her knees like one would when speaking to a child — that the misunderstanding was my fault because I hadn’t used the correct word for ‘professional tooth cleaning.’ (It’s Zahnreinigung, by the way. I guess they failed to cover that in my German class for completely retarded immigrants.)

So this tubby bitch proceeds to clean my teeth about as well as a monkey with a screwdriver. She barely touched them, skipped over a few entirely and never once used any water. My mouth was so dry my lips started to split, and I was left to swallow all the blood, tooth paste and fluoride left over. She even left a piece of dental floss (as I would discover later at home) stuck between my lower front teeth. The whole time she worked, she talked to me in lightspeed German, punctuating each sentence with a smirk, asking, “Do you understand?” I could ignore her personality flaws, but holy shit, I have never experienced a teeth cleaning with so little enthusiasm and basic proficiency in all my life. I would have had cleaner teeth if I took a nosedive into an empty concrete pool. My teeth would have been cleaner if I tied a blindfold around my head, pounded a 5th of tequila and stabbed at my gums with an ice pick. “Look honey! I’m a dentist! Herp-a-derp-derp-derp!”

So this repellant little goblin, hands me some dental floss and a couple miniature tubes of toothpaste and sends me on my way. I walked down the hall, jerked my coat off the hanger and made for the door. If this had been a sequence in a cartoon, you would have seen flames shooting out of my ears. Just as I was about to push the door open, I heard an entirely different receptionist woman calling to me — one who was not privy to all which had transpired.

NEW RECEPTIONIST: *Speaking in German* “Sir? Would you like us to go ahead and get that night guard ordered for you?”

ME: “No. Never. Goodbye.”

In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t given that poor woman such an intense death stare, followed by the harshest goodbye of her life, but I couldn’t help it; I was in a fugue state and unaccountable for my actions.

I now realize this entire experience at the dentist was mostly my fault, as I am an American with inadequate German skills living in Germany. My speaking proficiency should be better and I am working diligently to improve it. However, there is no excuse for being a dickhole to someone who is trying to learn your language. I believe that dizzy hooker who made the appointment for me did so knowing I was unsure what I was agreeing to; she just wanted to teach me a little lesson on proper German vocabulary. This is why I have purchased a set of fake hillbilly teeth, so the next time I walk past the dentist office, I can point at her and scream, “YOU DID THIS TO ME! NOW NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME AGAIN!”

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93 responses to “American Expat in Germany Experiences Colossal Misunderstanding at the Dentist’s Office

  1. Well that was a sucky experience – I hope she sits on a drill too – one that’s on…and I any post using the word ‘fugue’ has got to be promising in its content.

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  2. Sorry for your pain, but that’s just funny right there. I actually LOLd.

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  3. I can’t stand hateful people in any language. You have my sympathy.

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  4. This reminds me of the horrors I endured whenever I went to any sort of medical facility while in China. It’s not fun, and really terrifying.

    The worst was when I had an ear infection, I went with a Chinese lady that only spoke about 3 words of English. After going to two hospitals, I was finally got a treatment plan. Not being confident in what was happening, I asked for the doctor to write it down so that I could ask my liaison (who had cancelled on my twice) what exactly was going to happen.

    Just as the doctor was finishing, one of my former students limped into the room (there’s no privacy in China, and he had sprained his ankle). He read the note and told me, and this is the most terrifying phrase I have ever heard, “First you have injection, then you have operation.”

    Then I was whisked away from that room before I could get clarification, and given an injection. My only thoughts were, ‘don’t let me suddenly go to sleep and then wake up to find out I’ve been operated on in a Chinese hospital. don’t let me suddenly go to sleep and then wake up to find out I’ve been operated on in a Chinese hospital.’ I wound up being hospitalized for 5 days, but at least there was no operation.

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  5. Dude… What. A. Bitch! Obviously you are non-native, and God bless you for making the attempt in German… at least that’s how you’d hope and expect normal people to react! Glad you made it out without them yanking anything or doing some other ridiculous, unwanted procedure… “Oh sorry Sir, but you said you wanted ALL of your teeth pulled”… :-O

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  6. Ahhh…dental care. Keep flossing and set up an appt in Portland next holiday?

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  7. Sounds like you might want to think about finding a new dentist…that said, I’ve had similar experiences here and there…they make great writing fodder. Say Käse…

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  8. Thanks for making me actually laugh out loud!! I might start using “I hate her guts and hope she sits on a dental drill” in conversation. Sorry the dentist was so traumatic. I always hate going, even at home where everyone speaks English. Hope everything gets sorted out!!

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  9. I just want to give you a hug. Been there. I was schooled in German by a Croatian nurse, whose accent was so strong, I couldn’t begin to understand her. Then when I asked her to speak English, it was clear she was probably way better in English than in German. But being in a hospital you are completely reliant on the help. All the other nurses were lovely, she just had some ax to grind. grrrr.

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  10. Oh DEAR! I’m SO SORRY you had such an unpleasant experience! I would have been absolutely livid myself. Her treating you so rudely was more about HER and her own obvious inadequacies than it was about you. She definitely wanted to feel superior and was not at all interested in you as a newcomer, as a satisfied patient, or even as a fellow human being. She is a liability in that dental office, and I would probably write a (relatively) polite follow-up letter to the dentist him/herself, making the professional aware of your negative experience and identifying that woman by name if I could. She needs more training, OR she needs to be replaced. I would address first her very inadequate “professional” cleaning, comparing it to previous cleanings you have had at that clinic, as well as her inappropriate rudeness and lack of any attempt to ensure understanding or clear communication between you and the service(s) you had booked. As I understand it, dentistry in Germany is not exactly a cultural “way of life” as it is here in the U.S.; I should think they would be grateful for any and ALL patients who walk in the door, expat or not. Since the dentist speaks English, I would write that letter in English, too. If you really wanted to be certain you are understood, perhaps you could also include a German translation, assuming you could have a native speaker or one of your German language instructors to edit for you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother with the translation at all. The one thing I would NOT do is go back there without your very negative experience addressed and, hopefully, resolved. Who knows? Perhaps the dentist will invite you back for a “do-over” at no charge to you!

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  11. Lol dude. I can completely relate. But now, I just have a vague recollection of having been punished passive aggressively for poor German skills by self righteous service personnel, cos it has happened many times and I kinda recollect all of them at once only when I turn into the Hulk. Also to share my misery. In my small town the earliest appointment I could get with a dermatologist for an ugly skin ailment on my face was two months later! I said fuck that and got an appointment the next week in Düsseldorf.

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  12. Hello! Loyal follower (since last autumn, at least) here. :)
    Looks like you had a bad experience, sorry about that.

    If you’d indulge me, I’d have a few questions:
    1. The receptionist had the necessary degree to do teeth-cleaning? I’d have thought she should’ve been at least a Krankenschwester to do Zahnreinigung, but I don’t know the exact requirements for that in Germany. In other european countries, even this lowly procedure can only be done by the Zahnarzt. Anyway, as you describe your experience, it seems your teeth have been “cleaned” by someone entirely unprofessional.
    2. Why didn’t you complain to the Zahnarzt afterwards about the lady’s behaviour? Condescending or not, if she actually did the job badly, complaining on your blog won’t stop her from behaving like in the future.

    I hope you’re not going to the same Zahnarzt in the future :)

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    • 1) Yep, all the people at this particular office perform all of the dental services. I guess they’re multi-talented. :)

      2) I think the doc got the message, but you’re right; I could have made a bigger stink. As it stands, I just won’t go back.

      Thank you for your support, Cristian!

      Like

  13. Im not sure whether my earlier comment came thru. Mishap with the keyboard. Anyway I wanted to leave this here. Maybe she was saying the same in German ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG5Qk-jB0D4

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  14. Haha. I love it. I also speak (apparently) about the same level of German as you. If I were to go to Germany I would more than likely end up going to the hospital for a sprained ankle and coming out with breast implants.

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  15. And that, my friend, is the reason why I, a German, live in North America (Canada). Too many rude and people in the old country, and especially Germany.

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  16. The Danes (while not as mean) too seem to find any slight mispronunciation of a single swallowed syllable tantamount to some sort of tortured request. Luckily most people speak beautiful English and would rather speak English than listen to you maul their language. But there is a definite lack of trying to understand. I mean, it’s usually not that far off that they couldn’t make an educated guess as to what you were trying to say, while gesturing and making international hand signals for, say, knitting needles. I wouldn’t even try at the dentist though. That’s just asking for trouble…

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  17. Change the dentist! This one seems to have to pay for another appartement house to help him through old age.

    That is the only thing I can recommend. There are about 50 or so in Hannover. I have changed a few times till I got to mine. And I am speaking their language.

    And when you do change – make sure you they speak English! That should be standard and yet sadly isn’t. This is a town that prides itself in hosting big trade fairs with a lot of international guests – they should live up to it!

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    • That dentist is ancient history to me now. Thank you for the encouragement. Not only will I learn a LOT more dentist-specific words before my next cleaning, but I will make sure the staff are all at least halfway friendly.

      Thank you for reading, Fran! As always!

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  18. make sure you ASK IF – sorry, have forgotten those two words … I obviously do not speak English either *shakes head*

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  19. Yikes. I’ve been studying German on and off since High School (currently on again- yay!), but I think I’d be pretty unprepared to navigate any sort of healthcare setting there- the vocabulary is definitely more complex. I’m sorry it sucked for you- I had a similar bad experience with an angry, condescending German, just in a laundromat (of all places)- it’s no fun and you feel helpless and stupid. Mine left me a shaky mess that I had to explain to my German roommate who became quite angry on my behalf.

    On an unrelated note- in the German class I am taking (an advanced Composition & Conversation class), we’ve spent quite a bit of time on immigration there and in Switzerland. Would you be willing to talk a bit about your experience? We’ve focused mainly on immigrants from Turkey, Eastern and Southern Europe, and the Middle East and Africa. I’d be interested to hear what it’s been like for a fellow American (beyond what I’ve read in you blog, that is). I’m kicking around trying to do an internship over there.

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  20. Oh MAN! Nice job getting out of taking the night guard home. Stick it to ‘em! I found that you just need to act slightly more indignant than whomever is being indignant towards you auf Deutsch to win the argument. Channel your best dramatic teenager and you will win the next round.

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  21. This can happen anywhere. In Barcelona, I went to a dentist to have my teeth cleaned and checked because I had a weird feeling in the back of my mouth that I thought might be a cavity. Despite the fact that I speak Spanish perfectly and expressed my concerns about pain in my jaw/gums, the dentist assured me that all was well, brushed my teeth with paste (which is to say, did nothing I don’t already do myself), charged me half a day’s wages and sent me on my way.

    A few months later when I was in France, the feeling had turned to pain and I finally went to an ER because I thought I was dying or had a tumor. It turns out that the one molar I hadn’t had taken out when I was a teenager had dropped and was 3/4 of the way out of my gums. It was so far along, I didn’t need oral surgery; the doctor numbed the area and pulled it out with pliers. And my French wasn’t any good at all. Final charge: an hour’s wages.

    PS. I am sorry about your experience. That troll woman sounds like the worst. Find a new dentist and don’t ever go back there. (Or send her some of those really bad smelling flowers.)

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    • Haw! Thank you for the kind words of support, le cul en rows!

      Oh man, your situation sounds far worse. I would have gone berserk. Glad it worked out in the end though.

      Thank you for reading and commenting! Have a wonderful week!

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  22. That’s exactly why I google dentists or doctors in general that speak my native language. I’ve also had some really bad experiences with doctors abroad. I know that the German embassy keeps a list of all German speaking doctors abroad. Maybe you should check it out for your embassy? When it comes to health care I don’t want to rely on my language skills, it’s far too important. Good luck!

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  23. I spent 2 years in Germany – I understand. I made the mistake of asking for a paper gown at my doctor’s office and they laughed me and said here we are wasting paper on such a thing. So you just wait naked on an examining table. When in doubt, Umlaut!

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  24. Hi Bud,
    I would recommend visiting the Zahnklinik of the MHH. It’s the University clinic for aspiring dentists, and they do speak English there. If you don’t mind sitting for one or two hours in a little cubicle (or longer, if there’s real work to be done in your oral cavity), surrounded by 15 other patients, each in his/her own little cubicle, it’s good. And cheaper than a normal dentist, who only wants to pay for the next full tank of gas for his horrendously expensive Daimler parked just outside the waiting room window, with a kind of “I know where my next gas fill is coming from” smug look about it. I used to go to such a dentist, until I decided to go the MHH-ZK, where I got my entire stock of amalgam fillings removed, replaced with composite fillings, various crowns and bridges, for only 2500 Euros! Plus, as I was taking part in the final exam of the dental student, my dental student (who was already a qualified doctor, but needed the dental qualification to embark on his career as a maxillofacial surgeon) fitted me with, and paid for, a 200 Euro inlay, which he said was his way of saying “Thanks” for the past 18 months of my patience! I’m not promising that you’ll get the same kind of gratuity from your chosen tooth-mechanic, but at the end of your treatment, they do pay you for having taken part in the student program. OK, it’s only around 80 Euros, but that is some serious beer money!

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    • Hey Michael! That’s actually something my wife has suggested and I fully intend to try it next time. The MHH may take longer, but I’m sure the experience will be both thorough and professional.

      Thank you very much for reading and sharing such useful information with us. Have a stellar week my friend!

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  25. It’s a real shame. Your first posts were really good. Unfortunately, this last one about your trip to the dentist is why some Americans have a bad reputation here. The whole thing was your fault from the very beginning. And then to become angry at Germans because they had the gall to speak their own language! Get that chip off of your shoulder and ask your wife to write a note for you next for what you need done, there is no shame in that. I’ve lived here for over forty years. It can be tough at first but it’s your responsibility, not theirs. Just picture the reverse situation in the US. So relax and enjoy your stay in Germany (and hit those language books :- )

    Joe Turpin

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  26. Yikes!! So far (after almost 4 years), I’ve not had such a rude experience as someone who (still) barely speaks German. In Berlin, most folks are only too anxious to show you their English skills or practice speaking English. And they’re generally helpful if they don’t speak/understand English. They may not understand you, but with sufficient hand gestures and pantomime, you will usually communicate your wish/question. [If you get out in the boonies, however, you can be in trouble even if you CAN speak decent German because they still speak in a dialect and, if you happen to be in places that were in former East Germany, the second language they learned in school was Russian, so you’re really SOL there.

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    • Hi Jaton! Yeah, it took a real jerk for my dentist visit to go from a language problem to a personal problem. But hey, I’m not going to stop trying to speak the language, right?

      Thank you for reading and commenting! Have a great day!

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  27. I was cringing at the thought of sitting on a dentist drill, but wow, she does sound pretty terrible. I guess you’ll be finding a new dentist office to go for your next Zahnreinigung.

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  28. Yes and no. Quite frankly when it comes to health care abroad I think it’s essential that doctor and dentists speak English if and where necessary to clarify completely what the issues at hand are. I have had terrible experiences with health care here – things that would never happen in another country. Unfortunately yours just a number somwtimes and they just want you out of their office as fast as possible so that they can cram in as many patients in one day. It’s disturbing. There’s no need for the assistant to be so abrupt and rude on your case. Communication skills are often lacking here

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  29. > that the misunderstanding was my fault

    Actually, yes, it was your fault. You should not have tried talking about medical terms in a language you only barely understand how to use. You should have insisted to talk to someone proficient in English (most of us have 6-9 years of English lessons in school).

    In this case, the worst that could have happened is you being forced to hand over the big bucks. In more dire situations, your health and life might depend on information being relayed to healthcare professionals in a non-ambigious manner.

    I think this link might help you: http://the-text-clinic.com/wordpress_2012/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/article_01.pdf

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    • Sorry, Martin, but I’ll never stop trying to utilize my German language skills… no matter how rough they may be. It’s the only way to really learn, and it should not be discouraged.

      Of course, if I’m about to undergo major surgery, I’d probably bring along the wife to make sure I didn’t lose a limb or something. :)

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Have a great day!

      Have a great day”!

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  30. What a dreadful experience!! You are so vulnerable when you speak a foreign language and truly need all the support you can get. I myself recall a visit to the medical centre when I lived in Spain. I thought I had a really bad cold, but was sent home with some pills that turned out to be antidepressants….

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  31. This is so funny and timely. I just happen to be an American dentist planning to help open an office in Böblingen this summer.

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  32. I tell you what, I am still pissed, and it didn’t even happen to me! Stupid Nurse Ratched! Maybe her grandfather died in the war and she holds a deep-seated grudge against all Americans? I hope she will be a one-off among the Germans you meet because I seriously think that we don’t have enough people like you around and losing you because of a Zahnreinigung gone awry would be… well, the opposite of awesome! Looks like you managed to mine at least some humour though, which in turn makes me very happy.

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    • Sandra, yours was easily my favorite comment on this post. Thank you so much for your support as I muddle through the process of learning the German language. I love this country and the people. It’s gonna take MANY more jerks than that to turn me off of Deutschland!

      Have a wonderful day!!!!

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  33. Pingback: In need of a good filling | Hausschuhe and Handshakes

  34. Time to get a new dentist and maybe carrying a concealed Wörterbuch to be whipped out when the need arises might help. I started doing that after I asked for shrimp in the fabric store when I wanted some thread. Garnalen/garen. The saleswoman laughed and told me the fish shop was 2 doors down the street.

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  35. Integrationprocess is a term for a row of humaliating experiences. Oh what sweet memories surface by reading this.
    Well, if you come from a shit country, like a country that never provided you with enough knowledge to figure out how to use for example a shower or what a suncream is, after a while you think, that stumbling from one humaliation into the next is a fate caused by you DNA.
    But alas, the first year is the most difficult one and from that point it gets easier bit by bit, year by year. And maybe one day all your experiences will turn into wisdom so greatly, that you head will explode.
    But at least you have some allys in this enemy country…keep up!

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  36. My German friend living in the us was blown away by how amazing her first American teeth cleaning was. What you had sounds like the typical German teeth cleaning experience. :(

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  37. What a bummer; as if going to the dentist isn’t already fairly unpleasant. It’s funny that you mention the night guard fitting. While home in February I visited my dentist, and he suggested that I use one, as well (then proceeded to push his clinic’s $400 model, of course). I was sure that they’d be significantly cheaper here in Germany, but they seem to be equally exorbitant. Do you order your drug store models here in Germany? Or just stock up when you’re home? Or is the whole thing a scam…

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  38. You should report them. Surely they have a government department you can complain to.
    I dread the dentist in an English speaking country.

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  39. Okay, I’m sorry, I laughed anyway. Your writing is maybe a little more harsh and angry (understandable) but it’s still funny!!
    And believe me: It wasn’t your fault AT ALL!
    Eventually you should have started with asking if they do have someone who does speak and understand American English to avoid any misunderstandings. I guess it’s your God given right that they do take some efforts to make a paying customer feeling welcome and understood!
    Besides: that “receptionist” sounds like she’s been working as a butcher before. *sigh*

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  40. I totally feel you, I live in Bavaria and we must have the same dentist. The chick who does the x-rays almost ripped my face off with that moving death ray that spins around your head to get the x-ray. She had it too close and it almost broke my jaw, then she has the nerve to tell me I ruined the X-ray by moving. When the insurance company over paid (don’t laugh, it actually happened) they called me and told me I had to come pick up the money, I asked if they could just apply it to my wife’s account (she had a night guard made that insurance only covered part of) and they refused because it was from my account. So I went down and they gave me the 50€, and I handed it back and said I wanted to pay my wife’s balance and that was ok for them.
    As one of my German friends says, “Zer are rulez you must follow.”
    Good stuff here, keep it up.

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  41. The language barrier is exactly why I won’t go to the dentist here- and why I paid around 1300 dollars for my last dentistry in the US since my insurance is currently German insurance. I dislike going to the dentist when I *do* understand the language.

    When I do go to the doctor here, I don’t even *attempt* to use German. I just speak English. The doctor is basically fluent in my language, which prevents at least a third of the misunderstandings that occur every time I go to a medical professional.

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  42. LMAO!! I lived in Munich, Germany, for 10 years (1990-2000). I had some German doctors but managed to find an American dentist. One thing I quickly learned was once you stepped over the threshold into a doctor’s office, all bets were off and it was a virtual ‘No Man’s Land’ of German vocabulary that you never get in language classes.

    Just happened to stumble upon your blog today…. I am glad I did! I wish blogs were around when I moved to Germany in 1990… I’ve collected some funny stories too. Used to write for Munich Found magazine and even did the idiomatics column for a while. Fun! Fun! Fun! Looking forward to reading more in your blog. Bis bald und Machs gut!!

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  44. Pingback: American Expat Gleefully Passes German Integration Course | Oh God, My Wife Is German.

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  46. Had an equally frustrating visit (first since I arrived here) to a GP. I couldn’t explain to him that I had a bad bout of acid reflux! Somewhere between my broken German and his broken English, he managed to understand what the problem was!

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  47. Hahah! Yeah! One time when you are thankful you learnt your die, der, das (and so much more!) ;) Still a long way to go for me, though!

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