One of the first things I did when we moved into Trier was a join a gym. The one on base is too far away to go everyday, so why not join the Germans (of course, that's what I said at the time.. now I know why, they're smelly when they're not working out, just imagine when they're all sweaty and working out). I walked in and tried to explain to the trainers that I wanted to join their gym. With the language barrier, this was difficult. I finally got the point across and they gave me the application to fill out, which of course, was IN GERMAN. For the most part, I knew what it was asking for, but not really knowing German, I could have just signed my life away.
I was pretty inconspicuous for a while. I’m definitely the only American there. Minus the one trainer that helped me join, no other members and/or trainers suspected me of being American. I almost got caught one day when not walking in with a ‘handtuch,’ (handtowel) to put on the machines – these are required. A trainer yelled at me in German, so I took the towel and thought, ha, you didn’t hurt MY feelings, I don’t even know what you said!
The cat came out of the bag the other day though. While on the elliptical, one of the trainers was walking around asking a few people questions. Crap, I can’t answer him, I don’t speak German. I tried to ignore him, but had no luck. I used the German I did know to say, I don’t understand you, I speak English ( Ich verstehe sie nicht. Ich spreche English). Turns out, he was just asking if he could open the window (OF COURSE you can open the window – there is no AC and everyone in here smells – PLEASE OPEN!). He says a couple more things to me and walks off. Not so bad afterall? Not so fast…
The next day I walk in, find my machine, turn on my iPod, starting working out, when another trainer comes up to me. He says excitedly, “Are you the American?” Guess everyone knows, might as well admit it.
German Trainer: “Oh my God, are you listening to an iPod?”
German Trainer: “I LOVE American music. Can I have it?!”
Me: “Um, NO.”
German Trainer (in broken English): “No, just play over gym stereo today.”
Me: “Ok, I guess.”
Luckily, my iPod decides to play a non-embarrassing selection of tunes for the Germans to listen to. The next day, however, is a different story. The same trainer asks me for my iPod. I agree. Why not? I’ll tell you why not.. First song to come on: Mariah Carey 1990s classic, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” I hear it start to play and think oh nooo. About 30 seconds into it, the song is manually skipped by my trainer friend. I’m embarrassed. Now, before I go to the gym, I weed out the embarrassing tunes!