September 28, 2009

I is for Insane, Ironic and Impossible

Insane: Here's a quick breakdown of German political parties for you closet Deutschophiles who've been thinking recently that a country full of men in leather can't be all bad. There's the CDU, or the Christian Democrats, who more or less stand for the middle way, i.e., fiscally conservative but with some social conscience. Then there's the SDP, or Socialist Democrats, who have fallen completely out of favor since Gerhard Schroeder's time. And finally worth a mention is the FDP, or the Free Democrats, who basically want to deregulate everything and have a totally free market.

I asked Ralf yesterday how he votes, since I can't vote here. 'Are we fascists?' I asked hopefully, trying to sound informed about modern German politics. 'Green party,' was his response.

I've lived in Russia and I've seen first hand how much Communism sucks so I'm all for the free market. However, I also stayed awake long enough in economics class to learn about the Tragedy of the Commons, which states that unless restrained, multiple individuals acting rationally in their own self-interest will ultimately destroy a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long term interest for this to happen. Not might, will.

Anyway, although the CDU currently enjoys a political majority, the FDP scored an unprecedented number of votes in yesterday's national election, leading me to wonder why people always expect the same thinking that got them into trouble in the first place to get them out of it again.

Ironic: This may sound nitpicky but that song 'Isn't It Ironic' by Alanis Morrisette bugs me, not just due to its highly irriating melody but because in a long litany of things that are supposed to be ironic few of them actually are. I mean, rain on your wedding day is not ironic. Neither is an airplane crash with a passenger who fears flying. Anyway. The other day my yoga instructor Carolyn read a nice passage out loud about the enormous amount of energy women put into their appearance and how if they would channel that same energy to some higher purpose it would be enough to change the world. Incidentally, Carolyn is very attractive and looks amazing in white spandex. Now, THAT'S ironic!

Impossible: Several months back I bought a blender and two weeks ago it went up in flames while I was pureeing organic strawberries. I no longer had the receipt so I told Ralf he would have to return the blender because I knew he would succeed where I would fail. During the course of trying to return a blender to a German store with no receipt the word 'impossible' was uttered at least a dozen times by various store employees. Ralf patiently worked his way up the management chain and informed the store manager that having an easy return policy is the lifeblood of commerce. 'This is why people buy lots of shit they don't need in the US,' he explained. 'Because they know they can take it back, no questions asked. And the stores know that when they do, they'll buy more shit they don't need. Now, give me back my money for this piece of shit fire hazard you sold my wife!'

Finally after about 40 minutes of this the manager told him in a hushed voice that if he wanted his money back he would have to sign a legally binding testimony that he had bought the blender at Marktkauf. The manager seemed to think Ralf would chicken out and head for the hills once he heard this news. Instead Ralf laughed and said, 'Bring it.'

Yes, my modern day he man did get our money back.


  1. Go Ralf! Well done... just don't understand why they won't take it back. I mean then you would return to the shop again and again. As it is, they have no doubt lost a customer.

    And green party - good choice!

  2. Ralf is indeed awesome.

    And that song by Alanis bugs me, too. Those things aren't ironic, they're merely unfortunate.

  3. Awesome! because, you know, a fire on a blender is NOT a concern, is it? Oh, and the Alanis song? Drives me insane.

  4. I am rocking the returns here in Germany. Now I have learned to retain receipts for absolutely everything, I have also learned that almost everything is actually guaranteed for two years (at least!). I have a coffeepot triumph story myself:).

  5. Thanks for the solidarity on the Alanis song, I felt so alone. And G, you go girl!

  6. Oooh! The ironic song bugs me, too!
    I have an irony phobia as it is. That is, phobia of the misuse of the word 'irony.'
    And now realize I made an irony joke in my post today which was probably only clear to me.
    Is that ironic? ahhh!


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