My Austrian Neighbors…

One morning my doorbell rang. I looked out the window and saw a youngish-middle aged mother with two kids, one slightly bigger and the other slightly smaller than Tortellino. Thinking this was a surprise social visit of some kind, I grabbed Tortellino and ran down the stairs to open the door…

“Do you speak English?” she asked in almost perfect English. Wow, I couldn’t believe my ears, I was sure she wanted to make a connection.

“Yes! We do. We also speak in Italian and Tortellino, here, also speaks in German – me a little bit.”

“Ahah…” she nodded her head and looked disnterested.

“Well,” she began. “Since you’re new here, you probably don’t know how things work in Austria. You are responsible to cut the branches that stick out onto the sidewalk. I’m having problems walking by.”

“Oh,”I was starting to realize the scope of the visit. Trying to turn things around, I introduced myself “… and this is Tortellino, he is 2.5 years old.” I looked at her two children smiling, waiting.

“Ahah…” she nodded her head and didn’t introduce herself or the children.

“Also, in the winter, you need to salt your sidewalk and shovel the snow. And, have you been separating your trash? Last month saw plastic bottle sticking out of your garbage can!”

“Excuse me,” I interrupted confused.

“Do you live in the neighborhood?”

“I live in the Yellow and White house, over there” she pointed to a block of three yellow and white houses.

“Oh, I’ll talk to my husband about cutting the branches. Thank you for your visit!”

“Ahah..” she nodded, grabbed her unidentified kids and left.

I was a little surprised by the visit.. given that we have a double-wide sidewalk and the longest branch that sticks out is at least one meter from the edge of the sidewalk.

Depressed about a neighbor that I’ve had for six months that never introduced herself and only visited me to complain, the next day, coming home from with Tortellino from an errand I found something on my doorstep. A bottle cage with six 2 liter bottles of home-made apple cider. No note, nothing.

Remorse? Friendly neighbor? I thought a while and then it hit me!

Two months ago, a lady rang my doorbell. She knew the former owner and was desperate to find a parking spot (we live very near the city center and across the street from a University building so parking at certain times of day can be tricky). I let her park in our driveway. Anyway, hubby wasn’t home so it wasn’t any problem for us! She was in a hurry but, now, I remember she promised to bring me a bottle or two of Apple cider as soon as the apple season started.

Every neighborhood has a jerk but, thankfully, they are usually outnumbered by the kind.

Oh, by the way, the youngish-middle aged woman rang my doorbell yesterday. When I saw who it was, I didn’t bother answering. She probably wanted to complain about something else.

This post was copy and pasted from my personal blog lapsus humanus.

1 Comment so far

  1. Oliver (unregistered) on October 3rd, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

    Yes its sometimes difficult to remember that only a minority of Austrians (Graz people) are unfriendly and brusk (especially some older ones) – You tend to remember them and not the nice and friendly people you meet otherwise…
    My English wife and I live in a largish block of flats were some of the older residents are imposible (especially towards my wife) – they think they own the place because they have lived here since it was built in the 1960s and they also don`t exactly hide the fact they don`t like Ausländer… It really seems to annoy them that my wife has now had a baby – “all these bloody Ausländer breeding like rabbits” ;-)
    Take care, Oliver

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.