Confused but not discouraged, I continued trying to work my charms on my new friends.
One morning, I passed Roger, the department’s statistician.
It was an incredible event that would have never been allowed to happen in the US because of all the safety violations — someone could hit their head, fall off a bed, get whacked in the eye.
And it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to.
Credit cards are also virtually nonexistent in Germany.
This presented a problem for me when my American bank account decided to shut down after my first “suspicious” attempt to withdraw money in Leipzig, but once I got that squared away, being required to plan my expenditures and live on a cash-only system helped me keep my finances under control.
Whenever anyone passed me in the hallway, I would grin maniacally, wave, and yelp, “Hi! ” The responses ranged from bemused looks to a total lack of reply.
“Only an idiot would fail to realize that a steep cliff is dangerous,” my German co-worker stated matter-of-factly.
A few months later, after a particularly brutal snowstorm, I remember seeing an older gentleman faceplant on the ice while waiting for the tram.
Over time, however, I learned to both plan my days and to enjoy the break from chores rather than obsessing over lost time.
After a few months, I was occasionally leaving work at 3 PM to go watch the football game with friends instead of trying to cram in a few more hours of work.