Tag Archives: Hanover

Halfwit Thieves Fail to Steal Bicycle from an American Expat in Germany

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This is my bike. I call her, “Chain Bang.”

Remember that glorious trip my wife and I took to Bremen not long ago? This post concerns the moment immediately after we returned to Hannover, when we stepped off the S-Bahn to retrieve our bicycles.

It was way past midnight, and our two bikes were the only ones left at this particular stop. My wife rides one of those fancy Dutch style cruising bikes, which fits her personality perfectly: beautiful, classy, and designed to make you sit up so straight it’s like you’ve got a stick up your pooper.

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“Wouldn’t YOU rather steal this one?” — Photo Credit: Umberto Brayj (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ubrayj02/) — Image subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

Her gorgeous cruising bike was completely unmolested, while my previously-owned, €50 euro bike had obviously been the victim of a failed kidnapping, beaten, and then left for dead. Man, it makes no sense to try and steal mine, when they could have tried to steal hers. My wife takes great pride in explaining this to me, however: she uses two separate locks — a thick cable lock, and a rigid horseshoe lock. Apparently, two high-quality locks are enough to tell bicycle thieves to fuck right off, while my one, €10 euro, pencil-thin cable lock says, “Step on up and try your luck, you penniless guttersnipes.”

But my bike is hardly worth one lock, let alone two. When I ride it, I have to hunch over to reach the handlebars — real earnest-like — so I look like I’m trying to run everybody off the road and smash their children. The dynamo-powered light on the front has all the candlepower of a firefly, and the brakes are more interested in loudly announcing my arrival than they are actually stopping it. The chain creaks like it’s going to snap at any moment, and the bell on the handlebars makes exactly two kinds of sounds: a quiet, Please Ignore Me Entirely, sort of PING, and a GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY BECAUSE I’M AN ASSHOLE, BAH-D-D-DUH-RIIIIIIIIIIIING!

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“Oh, she may look harmless enough, but believe me, Chain Bang cannot WAIT to end my American life.”

Aaaaaanyway, as I was unlocking my bike, I noticed the handlebars had been cranked around so hard they were backwards. Like perfectly, 180 degrees, Exorcist backwards.

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“The power of Christ compels you!”

I thought that was odd; I didn’t remember trying to twist my bike’s head off before we left for Bremen. And that’s when I noticed there was also something wrong with my chain. Namely, it had been yanked so violently it no longer formed a simple loop — it had taken on a mutated “S” shape.

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“I need to see my chiropractor.”

It wasn’t until the next morning, upon closer inspection, I saw the clumsy laceration in the plastic casing. This chain cost me €10 euros, like I mentioned before, so what exactly did the thief and/or thieves use to try and cut through it? A pocket knife? A pair of pliers? A claw hammer and a prayer to Thor, God of Thunder?

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Bike: 1, Thieves: 0

Whatever they used, it didn’t work. My little bike chain held fast, and the thieves walked home using the dirty feet God gave them. I have to give credit where credit is due, however; they yanked on my bike so hard they managed to break off the kickstand. Seriously. Snapped it right off.

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They bent the front rim so it rubs against the tire, and they even twisted the mount of my headlight so badly it snapped off completely a few days later, leaving the light itself to dangle in the air like an exhausted scrotum.

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So now, I get to lean my bike against things, rather than stand it upright, and I have to use clip-on lights to ride at night. Whatever. I can put up with these things. You know what really sucks though? They stole my bike pump.

Yes, I was fool enough to keep a €7 euro tire pump strapped to the back of my bike, but I was also idealist enough to assume an item of such little value would go ignored by even the lowest of criminals. Hell, I valued the €1 euro bungee chords wrapped around the rack on the back of my bike more than the pump itself, because a new pump is available at every Rossmann in Germany. But new bungee chords? Man, I gotta go all the way downtown for one of those sons of bitches.

In the words of Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction: “Boy, I wish I could’ve caught him doing it. I’d have given anything to catch that asshole doing it. It’d been worth him doing it just so I could’ve caught him doing it.” Can you imagine? Let’s say there were 3 of them, all visibly intoxicated. One dude is grunting like an ape, yanking on my bike chain with a pair of rusty pliers so hard he gives himself a hernia, another dude is dutifully holding the handlebars without a single conscious thought in his skull, and the third guy is throwing up in the blackberry bushes. “Aww forget it,” says the guy with the pliers. “Janez, quit screwin’ around in those bushes. We’re walkin’ home…” And then they all get drilled by a train as they cross the tracks.

Unfortunately, in good conscience, I cannot award the efforts of these would-be bicycle thieves with anything more than 1 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

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Seriously, if you can’t steal my bike, you can’t rightfully call yourself a German. A real German would have jacked my bike with premium bolt cutters and a sleek BMW getaway car, leaving a note behind, reading: “I am very sorry to have stolen your bicycle. Do not blame the Polish. Please write a letter of complaint to your bicycle lock manufacturer.”

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Would you like to read another blog post about life as an expat? You might like this one: American Expat in Germany Nearly Killed by an Acorn, Vents His Shame upon the Biggest Spider in the Universe

Culture Shock: Five (More) Things That Suck About Living in Germany

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“Go sports team! Score that goal! Make that touchdown! I mean, wait…” — Photo Credit: Stewart (https://www.flickr.com/photos/stewied/) — Image subject to Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Once again, let me begin by saying life in Germany is awesome. I absolutely love it here! I have, however, learned a thing or two about the realities of life abroad. What follows is the next list of discoveries, oddities and annoyances revealed in my first months as an expat American living in Hannover, Germany:

  1. Shameful public artwork is everywhere. It seems like every corner is home to a bronze sculpture featuring a pair of naked Germans, heads hanging in shame, mumbling to one another, “God we suck.” Yes, I understand the travesties of the world wars. I totally get the need to remember, to learn and to honor the dead, but I’d like to take at least one leisurely stroll around town without feeling like I just took a shower in dog poop and shame sprinkles.
  2. Soccer fans are scary. There are few things I enjoy less than being surrounded by drunken soccer fans, hooting and hollering as they stumble through the train station after the big game. Hell, any game. I’m not convinced the fans I’m seeing even go to the games; I think some of these guys just put on their team jerseys and scarves and go watch whichever team happens to be playing on TV at their favorite watering hole. And there’s something about a big German man wearing a scarf striped with his local team’s colors, swaying as he walks toward me with an empty beer bottle about to tumble from his fingers, which I find — on an instinctual level — absolutely terrifying.
  3. Germans are downers. This may have something to do with point #1, but a great many of the Germans I’ve encountered are depressing as hell. Nothing is ever awesome. Even if something is mostly awesome, like having a job as a wealthy, internationally respected beer taster, the average German will focus on the one part of that job which blows, and feel the need to tell me all about it. “Yes, I have a good job as a beer taster, but there is only one electric car charger at the brewery; it is indicative of a larger problem within our educational system and our government as a whole, and demonstrates the fact that our entire country is about to implode in a morbidly depressing vacuum of apocalypse.” I mean, sure, Germans have been through some crazy ups and downs throughout history, so maybe even now they’re afraid to get their hopes up, but Jesus; let’s turn those frowns upside down, Deutschland! Look, you have dirndls and beer all around you! Dirndls and beer, God damn you.
  4. Everybody is tall as hell. I’m sure someone out there can explain the correlation between height and colder climates, but all I know is here in Germany, I’m like Frodo Baggins in the land of the Silvan Elves. I’m about 5′ 10″ (or 5′ 11″ — when I’m totally lying), and I always thought my height was pretty average. Not here. In Lower Saxony, I’m surrounded by these elongated, angelic beings with wonderfully straight hair and wings sewn of Jack Wolfskin polyurethane.
  5. Even in Germany, there are assholes. Of course I am aware there are jerks in every country, but I’d hoped Germany would be different. Yes, this was my own cultural bias, but I didn’t want to let it go. Not even at the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde), full of snorting pencil pushers, who calmly lost my residence application and then told me not to worry about it. Or that sad little beer tent at Oktoberfest, where the waitress shut down my attempts to order in German, advising me, “Just speak English, it is the language of business.” Or those drunken soccer fans on Georgstraße, who passed my wife and I, asking, “Is this your boyfriend? No? He’s your husband? Are you sure?” But finally, reluctantly, I had to admit there are a few jackpipes in my beloved Germany. Luckily, for each one I meet, there seem to be 10 warm and wonderful Germans just waiting to brighten my day here in Deutschland.

 

If you’d like to read more of our Things That Suck About Living in Germany lists, check out our previous posts:
Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany
Five (More) Things That Suck About Living in Germany
Even More Things That Suck About Living in Germany

 

Culture Shock: Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany

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“Thanks for the pic, Hans! Now where can I get me one of them giant beers?” — Photo Credit: Bruce Tuten (https://www.flickr.com/photos/savannahgrandfather/) — Image subject to CC Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Let me begin by saying life in Germany is awesome. I love it here! I have, however, learned a thing or two about the realities of life abroad. What follows is a list of discoveries, oddities and annoyances revealed in my first months as an expat American living in Hannover, Germany:

  1. The common American advice, “Don’t worry about the language barrier in Germany; everybody speaks English,” is not helpful. Everybody speaks a little English in Hannover, and they are terribly self-conscious about using it. There’s no getting around the fact that you really should learn the German language if you’re going to stay here. That said, younger Germans are more likely to speak English, and I’ve met several who are fluent. However, if they aren’t fluent, and you desperately need to locate the nearest restroom, you’ll soon find yourself gesticulating wildly as you try not to make pickles in your pants.
  2. There are pharmacies on every goddamn block. Seriously. They’re called “Apotheken,” and they are everywhere in this city. You can go to the nearest Apotheke and get your prescription filled. You can also purchase a wide variety of over-the-counter medications which do absolutely nothing. It goes like this: you must convince the pharmacist you have a cold and then intimately describe your most disgusting symptoms, after which time, if they believe you, they hand you a box of herbal tea. “Thank you Sir! I was going to drown my symptoms in a near-lethal dose of NyQuil, but this lemon-flavored tea should prove just as effective!”
  3. Germans are impatient. They have zero tolerance for delays, lines or traffic of any kind. They operate at top speed, which is why, in the cashier line at the grocery store, you better pay for your items and get the hell out of the way, because Dieter von Shufflestein is right on your ass. The first time I tried to put my change away before taking my groceries from the counter, my items were suddenly overrun with those belonging to the person behind me. His pickled herring and canned hotdogs were all up in my situation, and he didn’t even care a bit. I wanted so desperately to turn to him and scream, “Bitch, I am going to throw your nasty shit all over the floor if you do not get off my Kool-Aid!”
  4. Craft beers and dark beers have yet to really catch on in Germany. I’m from Portland, Oregon, so I’m accustomed to an amazing variety of beer, but over here, I mostly see pilsner and hefeweizen. I’m not complaining, mind you; the pilsner here is rather strong, and my wife can always tell when I have, as she puts it, “a pilsner-buzz” on. Oh, and liquor is super cheap here. Like, $7 for a fifth of rum, type cheap. I mean, hell, that’s not just cheap, that’s cheap as balls.
  5. Recycling is a monumental pain in the ass. (I’m only speaking of apartment living with this one, and specifically, apartment living in the city of Hannover.) Glass can only be returned in these round tanks on the sidewalk, which look like giant metal boobies. And just like real boobies, they’re nowhere to be found when you need them. Recycling makes absolutely no sense to me here. You have to put your organic compost, or “Bio” garbage into plastic bags — yes, plastic bags — and take them down to the dumpster. Random items (like cotton swabs, tissue paper and tampons) go into clear plastic bags and are taken to an entirely different dumpster. Regular paper goes into blue plastic bags, while metal and plastic go into yellow bags; both of which are picked up from the street once per week… by different companies. Oh, and if you buy a bottle of water at a certain grocery store, and you want to recycle it and get your deposit back, you have to take it back to that exact same grocery store. So, with all of these convoluted rules and the counterproductive use of plastic in the recycling process, I kind of want to make a German flag out of rubber tires and hairspray bottles in the middle of a busy street and set that shit on fire.

 

If you’d like to read more of our Things That Suck About Living in Germany lists, check out our previous posts:
Five Things That Suck About Living in Germany
Five (More) Things That Suck About Living in Germany
Even More Things That Suck About Living in Germany