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terrorizing tourists

From the Department of Things Plagerized from My Own Correspondance

Recently, I was in Köln (Cologne), home of the origional Eau de Cologne and a really, really cool Dom (Cathedral). During my foray in that wonderful city, I inadvertently managed to horribly offend a pack of American tourists in a Roman Catholic bookstore.

You see, at every Dom/Cathedral or great church I've been to, I've searched for recordings of the Cathedral organ and choirs singing in the church. It finally occurred to me that the place to find these things is not in the cathedrals themselves, but in stores around the cathedrals. Sure enough, the Roman Catholic bookstore about a kilometer from the Dom had what I wanted, so I picked up one for me and one for a gift and some German lit on the Dom. When I went to pay, I noticed they had credit card machines, so I asked, "Nehmen Sie Credit Cards?" "Do you take credit cards?"

"Tut mir Leid. Nein. Es ist kaput." "Sorry, no. The machine is broken." Now, for those not in the know this means, "Yeah, we've got the machines, but I'm not going to take a credit card from you because you're not spending enough." As I've found out this summer, it's really quite common. Whatever, I had the cash so it wasn't a big deal.

"Kein Problem. Immer der Amerikaner mit dem Credit Card, ja?" No problem. Always the Americans with their credit cards, yeah?

As the shop keeper was laughing heartily at this, I heard a horrified gasp behind me. As I turned to see where it was coming from, I found myself face to face with a trio of American tourists (camera's slung around necks, fanny packs in full force, and gigantor American flags plastered across their chests). One of the women was scowling at me. Apparently she thought I'd said something tacky about Americans.

Frankly, I had said something tacky about Americans, but I was rather implicated in that statement. Hell, I carry a New Jersey driver's licence. I'm supposed to be tacky, right?

I paid for my stuff and headed out of the shop. On my way out, I entertained the notion of telling the tourists that I was also from the States, right up until I heard them talking to the shopkeeper. The woman who was scowling at me was shouting at the shop keeper in a strong Midwestern accent, gesturing wildly, "Do you know where I can get camera batteries?" At which point, she gestured as though she were taking a picture followed by an impersonation of the Energizer Bunny. Even louder, "You know. CAMERA BATTERIES."

Unfortunately, she assumed that the shopkeeper (a) did not speak English and (b) was stupid. She was neither, as her perfectly accented Oxford English suggested, "But of course, madam. We don't carry them but if you walk around the other side of the Dom, you'll find a photography store."

I remain baffled as to why, if the tourist lady was so convinced the shopkeeper didn't speak English, she didn't just pop the batteries out of the camera she had around her neck and point. But maybe common sense isn't as popular as it was when I was a young 'un.

I was standing just out side the store smirking at this point. I made up my mind I wasn't going to help the tourists when they came out and the shouting woman's husband said, "What the hell is the Dom?"

I shot the shopkeeper a sympathetic look and shrugged, refusing to take accountability for my misbehaving fellow Americans, took out my newly purchased German guide book for the Kölner Dom (that had a big ass picture of the church on the front and a big fat red title, Der Kölner Dom) and slowly ambled past the Americans with my nose in the book, walking directly to the Dom. Incidentally, the Dom was really reather hard to miss, what with a measly four story museum building between us and the positively mammoth structure that is Cologne Cathedral.

Yeah, I'm a bastard like that.
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28 July, 2006 12:28

Ha. I have similar american tourist stories from Israel. One particular bitchy New Yorker was on the trip with us and treated the world as if it was an extension of NYC. Humorously one cab driver started shaking his hands at her while toaking on his cell in Arabic. If only I could have understood. Ha. I had a great month in Israel despite the whole rocket dealio happening 12 km away. I hope you enjoy your travels as much as I have!

--Laura  

By Anonymous Anonymous  



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