My first phone call – a breakthrough in German after all these years

It is rather embarrassing, but probably time, to admit that after almost 5 years in Austria my husband still makes all my appointments for me – from the doctor to the hairdresser – I’m like a small child.

call doctorI’d been nagging hubby for some time about a dentist appointment, but due to general busyness and life, suddenly months had passed and I realised it was time to bite the bullet. But I was so afraid to talk to someone on the phone, I actually decided that instead, I would waste half an hour of my day to drive into town and physically go to the dentist to make the appointment in person.

Instead of a two minute phone call.

I know, I’m ridiculous.

But it worked! I got my appointment, and two weeks later I endured the mandatory ‘drowning in one’s own saliva’ – thankfully this time, no surprise filling.

When I got home I felt pretty proud. And I thought, ok, now it really is time. So later that afternoon, I typed numbers into my phone and was connected to the office of my Frauenarzt (gynaecologist). I had been practising my spiel before the call, and I rolled easily into it, a precision delivery… before realising that no one had actually answered the phone. I had just talked to the ‘on hold’ message and was now forced to listen to the twangs of stilted xylophone from the 1981 collection of on hold music.

My heart immediately sped up and I began sweating. I almost hung up the phone. I’d been calm before the call, and calm at the first pick up, but now I was panicking. I waited through two renditions of the song before they took my call. At which point I was so flustered that I stumbled through a less-than-perfect delivery. Still… she got my point, and asked me for my name. But this is where things really went downhill. You see, I can’t really say my last name properly, so standard procedure is to say it, then spell it. The problem is, my last name has R’s and E’s and A’s in it. These German letters, pronounced by my awkward Australian tongue, all sound the same.

So what I said sounded something like this: ergh ergh, doppel G, ergh ergh.

She did not get it.

Luckily, by this time she’d realised that I was a special caller, and she patiently asked if I’d been there before (I had) and my birth date, and found me in the system.

After offering me a time, which I obviously accepted (by this stage I would have taken anything), I repeated it back to her no less than 6 times in different ways to make sure I had it right.

And when I hung up, I even remembered to use the correct word for when you’re saying goodbye on the phone (because there is a special term). Did I use formal speech, I hear you ask? Hmmm… not sure… maybe.

Still, I succeeded. Better late than never.

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2 thoughts on “My first phone call – a breakthrough in German after all these years

  1. Mum November 2, 2018 / 6:46 am

    Well done Deb. Such a scary thing to overcome.

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