Giving Directions

My German teacher supposedly appreciates my sense of humor, though she has told my wife if I don’t curb it I will fail the government exam. Which doesn’t phase me – I don’t plan on writing the exam, though I guess I haven’t told her that.

When I was a child, my teachers would complain about my behaviour to my parents. Now it is my wife who hears of my escapades, as she knows my teacher socially.

For my classmates the “Prufung,” the government language test, looms large. Failure to pass means no access to the job market. I already have a job and my work is in English; I want to learn German to make daily life a bit easier, but I could function here without it. Taking the exam at the end of the course is optional for me, but not for my classmates.

We had a test recently, and I had a bad day. I knew before class started that my brain was fried. I looked at the test paper, and it isn’t that I didn’t understand, I couldn’t even think of the answers in English to mentally translate into German. After 10 months here, I guess I need a reboot of some sort.

Still, I did what I could, which meant leaving a lot of the test blank. Oh, I scribbled some words, but I doubt they made much sense. At least they didn’t to me.

What spurred the complaint to my wife though was the writing exercise. We were supposed to send an email to a friend, giving directions for them to find our residence.

As I said, my brain was not functioning. I couldn’t remember the words for left, right, turn or anything else one might use in giving directions. Then it occurred to me: I don’t usually give directions anyway. Everyone I know has a smart phone with GPS. Giving directions is an obsolete skill.

In effect, that is what I wrote. I told my friend to use his phone rather than make me do his work for him, or words to that effect.

In German class (and perhaps in Germany?) creativity is frowned on. I knew that from the last time I deviated from the expected script. Because this wasn’t just a writing test, it was a follow the directions test. I didn’t do what the assignment required, and even if my German had been perfect, that would not have been enough. My teacher told my wife if I try something like that on the exam I’ll fail.

I get it. But I still don’t give directions. It is so much easier if you just use your smartphone.


  1. bad boy, bad boy, whatchya gonna do when dey come for you?

    1. The won’t be able to find me Mr. Marley – nobody gave them directions.

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