The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

German-American Freundschaft

This is my last night in my little "hobbitty" apartment in Mannheim. I was so lucky to find this cubby when I came to Germany. Not just because it is such a cute little apartment...perfect size, fully furnished, nice neighborhood...but because of the people who own the house and live in the apartment just below me.

Peter and Barbara have been absolutely wonderful to me in the time that I have been renting from them. They have done so many little things for me that go beyond just being good landlords. Peter helped Bert and me schlep my boxes up to the third floor when I moved in and tonight he has parked his car on the street so we could put all my boxes in their garage in preparation for the movers tomorrow. When I left to go to Berlin four days after moving in here they heard me bumping my suitcases down the stairs and insisted that Peter should help me get the bags to the tram stop. When Barbara realized that, because of my Berlin trip, I would only spend a total of 18 days in the apt. during Jan and Feb she insisted that I not pay rent for the month of Feb! She had no idea how short of money I was at that point and what a gift her gesture was.

My rent includes utilities and wireless internet. I've tried to be conscientious about energy comsumption (turning off lights and, in winter, putting on a sweater instead of cranking up the radiators), but when we had a bit of a cold spell this last spring Barbara made a point of telling me to turn the radiators back on if I needed them. She wanted to be sure that I stayed warm! And when I lost my internet connection in March Peter went out of his way to get me back online as soon as possible. His connection was fine but he replaced his modem to reestablish mine.

Barbara's daughter Miriam lives here in Mannheim and often spends Sunday afternoons with her mother and Peter. Barbara always cooks a big lunch when Miriam comes over and since I moved in they have invited me to join them on a regular basis. Barbara is a fabulous cook and I have enjoyed our long Sunday lunches tremendously. The conversation is always fun and interesting and I have especially enjoyed getting to know Miriam. She is delightful but I must say I've never seen such a tiny girl who could pack away so much food at one sitting! LOL! It has kind of become a running joke at amazement at Miriam's capacity.

I've spent several very enjoyable Saturday afternoons hiking with Barbara and Peter and the evening that they invited me to go to the ballet with them was great fun.
One of the sweetest things, though, has been something very simple. Barbara reads the paper on a daily basis and whenever she reads something that she thinks would be of interest to me, whether it's news of a change in the tram schedule or a community event or a sale on "American" items at the grocery store, she cuts out the article or notice or whatever it is and leaves it on the stairs for me. Just a little thing but so thoughtful.

What I have been most grateful for, though, was how understanding they were about Lucy. They didn't even ask for a "pet deposit" when I moved in. I knew that Lucy didn't always get her butt all the way in the litter box when she had to pee so, from the beginning, I laid heavy plastic under the "pee" pads in front of her box to make sure that the wood floor was extra protected.
Letting your renter have an indoor cat is one thing (most cats are very fastidious about using the litter box) but it wouldn't have been unreasonable in this situation for Peter or Barbara to voice concern. After all it was my cat and their floor! But they never did. When they asked about Lucy it was only to inquire about how she was getting along. They were both very sweet to her and Barbara was here to say goodbye on that last day.

Last Sunday, they had a going away BBQ for me. Miriam and Daniel (Barbara's son) both came and the next door neighbors were invited, as well as Nikki and Bert. As a going away gift they gave me a book about humor that I am looking forward to reading. It was a lovely afternoon and very much appreciated.

It has been such a pleasure to get to know Peter and Barbara. They have been much more than just my landlords. They are friends who I will miss. I know they like to travel and I'm hoping they will come to visit me in Scotland sometime so I can, in some small way, return their hospitality.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I'm so sorry Lucy wasn't up to the rest of your journey to the Highlands -- she would have been great company, I'm sure. But it's wonderful that you're surrounded by such friendship and love. What an excellent adventure it's been so far, and you're just getting started -- good luck and Godspeed!!