these wacky Germans... sheesh.
I have made progressive leaps and bounds on my quest to find a telephone connection. I finally found the lady in charge of Housing in my building when she was in her office, and asked her about the phone and the ethernet. She told me I just had to call the phone company and have them come out, to fix the phone. She told me to check with the "Haus Meister" (landlord?) about the ethernet stuff, and she gave me instructions on where to find him.
During class, I asked Prof. Feige (Frau who lectures over culture and stuff) if there was a way to distinguish between the telephone apparatus and the telephone service not being functional. She trained me in a couple of key verbs (anschliessen ~= connection) and told me if I had trouble, she'd help me out on Monday.
So, I ran some errands after class (there's a trip to Prague tomorrow) and called Deutsch Telekom about quarter to six. Its a lot like calling AT&T, except Deutsch Telekom speaks in a language I can't quite understand. Anywho, when you call, there's this musical chord and a voice says, "Deutsche Telekom — Privaaten Service" which means "you're about to talk to a person who speaks Swahili". No, it means that I called the right number, because it was the branch of the phone company that deals with individuals. There was a total of five different numbers being offered, and it took three of us foreigners to figure out which one to call.
Anywho, this lady picks up and — I swear — says something that is NOT German. I think it might have been Swahili? Anywho, I kinda got nervous, and butchered what I was supposed to say. The person on the other end says, "sorry" and I hear . But the pay phone says I'm still connected. I wait, and after a few seconds, I hear a weird tone that sounds kinda like the German phone signal for "busy". I thought this was weird, so I hung up and tried again.
This time, after "Deutsche Telekom — Privaaten Service" I heard someone who was apparently speaking German. I said (translated into English, because it's easier for me to type), "I have a problem. I have a telephone, but it does not work." She replies, "What is wrong with it?" I say, "There is no connection." She makes noises like she's typing on a computer. She says, "What is the phone number, please?" I say, "No, there isn't a phone number." She says, "I need the phone number." I say, "I don't have one, I'd like to have a phone number." She says, "I can't help you without a telephone number." I say, "I don't have a telephone number, my phone doesn't have a connection." She says, "What do you want?" I say, "I bought a telephone. I plugged it into the wall. I listened. There is no connection. There is no dial-tone." She said, "OH! There is no dial-tone?" I thought I was getting somewhere. Then she says, "Okay, what is your telephone number?" I am getting frustrated, at this point. I say, "No. Its a brand-new building. This is the first telephone ever. There is no number." She starts to say something and then I hear something like...
"Guten Abend, vom Deutsche Telekom. Wir sind geschlossen."
Which roughly translates to: "Good evening, from the weirdest telephone company in the world, and we want you to go away now."
No, I looked at my watch, and it was exactly 6pm. On the nose. I should have expected this from a country who, only a decade ago had government enforced mandatory closing hours for all businesses, and they were set (if I remember right) around 4pm on most nights. In years since, they made Thursday "long day" when business were allowed to be open as late (as late) as 6:30pm. These laws went away a few years ago, but most companies still ardently hold to the old traditions.
Anywho, I guess I will talk to one of the instructors on Monday. Sheesh. All this for a telephone.
I told this story to the other international students, and one told me about his problems in Dresden. He had called ahead to find out about his housing situation, before he gets there next week. In order for the school to give him his apartment, he has to have a local bank account. So, he calls the bank in Dresden. The bank tells him that before he can open a bank account, he needs to give them his address. He tells the bank that he can't get his address until he has a bank account. They tell him that is his problem, and say goodbye.
may the forces of evil become confused on the way to your phone company...