Friday, April 11, 2008

10 December: Stuck in the Hotel, the New Tierarzt & a Holiday Party

I had to get up with John at the excrutiatingly early hour of 6:45 this morning so I could drive him to work (yes, please tell me how sorry you feel for me). Traffic was heavy on the Autobahn and it took a full hour to make the roundtrip to Sindelfingen and back to SI-Suites. I had taken Cody for a short walk before we left so I went straight to breakfast and enjoyed a nice relaxing meal with my book.

I sat in the hotel room for the rest of the morning and early afternoon getting caught up on my journal. (Cody, meanwhile, has settled in quite nicely at SI-Suites; see photos.) It had been a glorious sunny morning with very dramatic clouds, but it started raining again (I think it has rained every day for the past two weeks) and I really had no strong motivation to go outside. It is difficult to believe that one week from today we will be back in Michigan, permanently. I have been so busy these past few weeks that I haven’t had time to get depressed about leaving Germany, but it is finally starting to become a reality. People ask me if I’m excited about going “home” and I say no, which is often met with surprise. I have to explain that Michigan isn’t really my home; I have no family there, my friends are all working in a field that I am no longer a part of, and we will be returning to a house that needs an enormous amount of work. If I wasn’t pregnant things would be looking very sad indeed, but at least now I have something new and exciting to look forward to. It’s been reassuring to get the occasional peppy e-mail from my friends saying they are anxious for me to come back.

My one task today was to take the pets to the vet to get their health certificates signed in preparation for the trip home. (The basic requirements for re-entry into the U.S. are an up-to-date rabies vaccination and a medical clearance less than 10 days before the date of travel.) I didn’t end up leaving for the vet until almost 3:00 this afternoon because Scotty hid under the bed and I had a heck of a time getting him out. No amount of tunafish or kitty treats would make him budge. I think he knew something was up, because I put on Cody’s seatbelt harness first. I eventually had to pull the bed away from the wall and Scotty mauled me with his little needle-teeth, which required some first-aid before I finally got both pets out of the room. I eventually loaded everyone safely into the car and headed over to Botnang.

I had noticed several months ago that our Tierartz had apparently retired, as the practice had been taken over by someone new. I just hoped that the new guy had experience with the international health certificates. I walked in the door and noticed that the whole office had a bright new blue-and-yellow paint job. U of M fans would be pleased. I was shown into the office and met the new vet, an amiable young fellow with a friendly blonde assistant. He understood exactly what I needed and got to work on Scotty first. Unfortunately he had some unpleasant news; he said that Scotty was very stressed (apparently beyond the usual cat-at-the-vet stress level) and that he really needed to have a full blood work-up. We had noticed that Scotty had lost quite a bit of weight recently but he had not been acting otherwise ill, so we didn’t really know what, if anything was wrong with him. He isn’t a very happy-go-lucky cat to begin with, and of course his world has been turned upsidedown in the past few days, so I wasn’t surprised that he was more stressed than usual. The vet agreed to sign the health certificate because he knew that I needed to get the cat back to the States, but he urged me to take Scotty to the vet as soon as we got home to Michigan. Ever-robust Cody, on the other hand, checked out fine, although the vet did have the gall to ask whether he came to Germany without a tail (tail docking having been illegal in Germany for some years)!

I had to rush to get to the house by 4:00 because someone named Kerstin was supposed to meet me there to pick up the dining room rug. She never showed up, so I left, quite annoyed, at 5:00, took Cody for a short walk in the dark, and drove the pets back to the hotel. I left to pick up John just before 7, and then we drove downtown to meet everyone in his department for a holiday party at an Italian place called Sallini. We had some trouble finding it and were pretty much the last people to arrive. John’s boss had arranged the party and was covering the tab, but apparently he had to bill it as a “seminar” because they aren’t supposed to be paying for meals out.

Ironically, it was not until my last week in Germany that I finally met all of John’s co-workers and his infamous boss. I could tell you stories about John’s boss, but I’d probably get in trouble. Let’s just say that he is a bit…interesting. Gert and Jürgen were there but otherwise the faces were all new. Out of maybe 25 people, I think there were three women. I had to go around the table shaking everyone’s hands and smiling, doing the part of the dutiful wife. I ended up sitting next to an English guy named Mark. After several minutes of silence, he finally opened the conversation by asking what octopus tastes like (I had reached for a bite of it from the huge antipasto platter in the middle of the table). I ended up having quite a lengthy conversation with him about cars and driving on the Nürburgring. He owns a Lotus Elise but hasn’t gotten up the nerve to drive it on the ‘Ring yet, so I believe he was quite impressed by my relatively extensive experience.

The food was only so-so and I found myself getting tired rather quickly. I had a short chat with John’s boss’ boss, a rather stiff fellow who didn’t have much of interest to say, but at least he tried to make polite conversation. Finally John’s boss made a little speech and they presented John with a nice gift – a framed photograph of the whole department, with everyone holding up letters spelling out “Good Luck John.” Apparently not everyone had been available for the photo, so some of the graphic gurus had Photoshopped in the missing staff. A few people eventually started to trickle out, so we were finally able to make our exit. We didn’t get much of a chance to talk to Gert and Jürgen, but we will be going to Jürgen’s for dinner on Thursday night, which I’m sure will be a lot more fun.

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