Helpful Germans and other folklore

So I lied. No funny story today, either. I have a ton of repair people coming to the house today and I have to play hausfrau for a few hours. New construction to an old mill equals tons of money and constant work. We’ve been here her more than a year and stuff still needs to be finished. So much for a new house=turn key operation.

So, for those living far away in customer service, convenience and answer land, let me give you an idea of what I’ve had to deal with building our house.

We got home late last night and woke up this morning to the doorbell. Granite man cometh. Sparky and I raced to throw on clothes. Didn’t want another incident like that with the painter, the locksmith, the mirror installation guys, the tüv inspectors etc. Everyone in this town has seen me naked or in some sort of compromising position.

Our granite guy came to re-do the silicon in our kitchen and bathroom. The house has shifted and all our glued parts have come unglued. The granite countertop separated from the granite wallboard. The marble kickboard from the floor tiles and the glass from the marble in our shower. The glass required clear and the marble, jurabeige. The kitchen was some unknown color the granite guy had since he installed it in the first place. One would think this was easy, but no. That is not the German way.

The marble silicon, left over from installation last year, had dried out in its container. The color, Jurabeige, stumped the granite guy. He offered to do the bathroom in the same dark taupe color as the kitchen. Our marble is the lightest shade of cream. Taupe is not good with cream. White would not work either as the rest of the bathroom including the floor times and walls were done in jurabeige. It needed to be beige. The inability to match colors seems to be national epidemic. I asked if he had jurabeige or if he knew where I could get the same product.

Well, the “jurabeige” tube had a label in French. The granite guy told me there was no way I could find that in Germany. I asked if there was a market I could find it in, someone I could call. He told me specifically that there are no shops or storehouses for tile and stone workers, there were no similar colors. I must call the French.

Well, dealing with the French was out of the question. Our construction came to a screeching halt in the early days because the French were not available to ship parts. I’m sure it was because they were drinking wine, eating cheese and fucking each other’s wives. Time means nothing to the French, until payment is required.

Then there were slight disagreements between the specific specifications of the German builders and the Laissez Faire French when it came to the actual building part. Those arguments did nothing for French-German relations. Our master builder would not even speak to our French designer after a few meetings. Since my French is limited to “Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir “, I wasn’t THAT helpful in smoothing things out. We did not separate happily with the French firm. I would have to find this tube of silicon on my own. Why this is so complicated, I do not know.

So on to the Internet I went, looking for this one particular brand, thinking the color must be specific to this company and rare as the megamouth shark. Looking at the tube and I saw faint writing beneath the French label. I tear a little piece off and what do I find? German writing. The freakin’ company is German. They stuck a French label on the tube to sell to the French who sold it to us, in Germany. And old Mr. Internet told me that jurabeige is a common color for natural stone silicon. It’s like white, black, clear and beige. Like jurabeige.

To an American, the granite guy must have been smoking crack. To a German, this is standard customer service.

I sat there, fuming, tearing off the label. I found a phone number for the company. I had Markus call, but it was between the hours of 12-2 when NO ONE works. We’ll have to call back between 2:00 and 2:03pm to reach anyone. They might answer the phone if their circulatory systems are okay during this heat wave. Or not. There are lots of fests right now so it may be some sort of holy day of the beer stein or heavenly ascent of the apple wine.

It’ll take us at least 4 weeks to get this tube of sticky stuff, 3 weeks to get an appointment and 300€ to have this genius come back and install. I wish I were better with silicon. I’d do it myself. It’s never smooth and seamless. I just manage to get it all over the place and in my hair.

Damn Deutschers.

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12 thoughts on “Helpful Germans and other folklore

  1. To be perfectly fair, you did not ask the German Granite guy about “jurabeige”. he only saw the French label (which he had never seen before) and gave you the correct answer to your question: “No, you cannot get this BRAND of Silicone in Germany”.

    Who knew that the French brand came from a German manufacturer :)?

  2. I did too! I asked specifically “do you have this color.”

    And let’s just say he only heard brand, why would he not mention that he had a similar color in another brand?

    They would in America. In America they do things like say, “oh, you just bought this washing machine, you also need the hook-up kit, 17 year warranty and a package of soap. Do you need a small immigrant woman to actually do the laundry for you? Here is our selection. Anything else we can do for you?”

  3. And it was the SAME brand in germany that it is in France. The font is different, did that confuse him?

  4. I HATE bloody builders!….we had our house built almost 3 years ago. I know the movement and silicon thing…and I am as bad at its as well – haven’t managed to get it in my hair though yet.
    We had a simular situation when we needed some more floor tiles. We were told that we were specially ordered from Denmark and would be impossible to get. Checked on the internet, found they were made in Germany, and that a local shop in Marburg had them in stock.
    The building zeit was very stressful for me, I lost it one day, I turned into an English hooligan and threatened to ‘punch the lights’ out of a couple of our builders. They put their hands up in surrender (honestly!!), so I calmed down…….anyways I better stop talking about builders before I get carried away.

    PS…..we got builders coming back in August

  5. When we installed our new dishwasher (in America) I ran up to the convenience store to buy a 6$ package of Cascade. It was when I read the directions I realized that the dishwasher, did indeed, come with both detergent and a rinse aid. You’re speaking the truth.

  6. see! Our door guy got so tired of his own failings, he refused to return our calls. We used the refrigerator box as a door for privacy in the bathroom. We did not have doors in our house for 6 months. I ended up calling his secretary every 10 minutes until she got so annoyed, she stopped screening his calls. We ended up getting our doors free. They were the wrong color, the wrong length, the wrong wood and the wrong thickness, but we were so grateful for privacy we didn’t complain. that is how germany has developed this wasteland of customer service.

  7. And THAT, my dear, is precisely why we do all home renovations ourselves, even if they sometimes end up looking like crap. I’ve seen too many of those “Hey, lets build/renovate a house with help of professionals while slowly going insane” shows on TV – those builders are scary people.

  8. @Chevy: it feels well and is pretty alive! Such trivial jobs we usually deligate to foreigners from India or Turkey ;-)…

    Look here: http://www.tbwg.de
    THIS is German engineering art!

  9. But presumably your hero builder did turn up at 7 in the morning to be unable to do his job?

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