Sunday, April 29, 2018

A compliment, a complaint, and a command...

This morning, I listened to a duet a guy from Sweden did with me on SingSnap.  He left me a short comment that included a compliment, a complaint, and a command.

I have a feeling he meant well...

Clearly, his English isn't perfect, although he does have a fairly nice singing voice.  I was left a little puzzled by this comment.  I have many open duets posted on SingSnap.  He could probably spend all day on them if he wanted to.  There are probably thousands there, because I rarely delete the stuff I post.  I will admit that I haven't done any new duets lately.  For some reason, I haven't felt inspired to make much music this month.

When I recorded the duet he joined me on, I did it in the original key.  Sometimes I do change the keys on certain songs-- usually the ones that were originally done by men.  This one was recorded by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, so I didn't change the key.  And since I recorded it a long time ago and this was my first encounter with him, I certainly "didn't make it hard for him".  That kind of implies that I did something on purpose.  I don't know this man from Adam and he made the choice to join me.  If I had known him, and he had specifically asked me to sing with him, and then I deliberately chose a key that would be hard for him, then he could legitimately claim that I'd "made it hard for him."  In this case, he really can't.

Yeah, this is just another one of my quirky posts about strange comments I get from people.  I'm sure it makes me sound anal retentive or whatever.  I don't mean to sound that way, even though I probably am that way.  I just find language interesting, kind of the way Flula does.

Flula is a German guy who parodies American idioms with stereotypical German literalness...

I think this "blaming thing" is kind of a European concept.  It's like the cultures here have this fault finding feature built into their languages.  I noticed it a few years ago, when Bill and I were subscribed to Germany's version of Hello Fresh.  I had a problem with my very first order.  I tried to subscribe to the service, but their Web site kept sending me error messages.  I thought the orders weren't going through, so I tried again repeatedly, using different credit cards until I finally got a message indicating success.  What I didn't know was that Hello Fresh was getting the orders, but their Web site was fucked up.  Consequently, the following week, I ended up with four meal boxes and three fruit boxes from Hello Fresh.

This problem led to a lengthy customer service dialogue with Hello Fresh staffers, who inadvertently pissed me off by blaming me for the problem with THEIR Web site.  The representative had asked me to "be sure it doesn't happen again", as if the issue was my error.  But then, it could be a function of translation.  Sometimes language discrepancies and different constructions can lead to misunderstandings.  I also think there is a serious blame culture in Germany.  Someone has to be at fault.  It's like they don't believe in accidents.

Case in point.  Last summer, the awning over the patio at our rental house broke.  A sudden gust of wind caused it to collapse.  The collapse wasn't a total surprise.  We had told the landlady about the awning leaning a bit.  She sent her husband to fix it.  He did fix it, but the repair only lasted a few weeks.  Moreover, she didn't tell us not to use the awning or explain that in the case of a stiff wind, it might collapse.  I could not predict the wind, so I didn't roll up the awning before the sudden gust blew it over.  In my view, it was an accident/act of God.  

But my landlady insisted that it was my fault that the awning broke because I was using it on a "windy" day and because I wasn't sitting under it when it collapsed.  She also blamed me for the fact that her electric rolladen needed to be fixed.  In that case, she claimed it was my fault for not using it often enough.  So, with the awning, I was at fault for using it, and apparently, I should have been outside when it suddenly collapsed.  With the rolladen, I was at fault for NOT using it.  The repair guy later told her that the rolladen had come off the track somehow.  My guess was that it was never properly installed in the first place, because it never did unroll smoothly until after it was repaired.  

That whole situation was very exasperating because obviously someone had to be "at fault".  So instead of fixing "what was fucked up", the focus was on "who fucked up."  And clearly, the landlady felt fine with laying the entire blame on me, and did so in a very offensive way that made me want to move out, pronto.  It also tells me that if anything else goes wrong, it will automatically be my fault (not Bill's).  In my view, it seems like a bad way of resolving problems.  In many situations, I think it's better for people to work together to fix issues, rather than focusing so hard on who messed up and has to be punished.  Obviously, there are times when people really are at fault and should pay.  But a lot of times, shit simply happens.  And the landlady would have gotten a lot further with us had she not bitched me out in my living room in her house (that we are paying a lot of rent for).

Fortunately, we have personal liability insurance, which I highly recommend for anyone living in Germany.  It's cheap, and it spares people having to deal with these issues without an uninvolved third party.  The landlady wasn't happy with the small amount of money she got from the insurance company.  She tried to guilt us into giving her more euros.  It didn't work, because Bill reminded her that the awning could have seriously injured or even killed me had I been under it when it collapsed.  And then, she and her husband would have been at fault.  After he mentioned that, she backed off.  We haven't heard anything else about it since, although she may try to screw us when we move out.  Fortunately, I have also invested in legal insurance.  :-)  I also instructed Bill to tell the landlady to leave me out of her tirades.  Otherwise, I'm going to leave.

Maybe it's the same in Sweden.  If a key is too high in a song, it's my fault for recording it in too high of a key, rather than your fault for not choosing another partner or asking me to record it in a lower key.  But honestly, I do think the Swedish guy means well.  I was mostly pleased by his comment.  It just made me think of different language situations I've run into here in Germany that I might or might not run into in America.  But at least in America, I'd know it was less of a culture thing than an asshole thing.

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