For the moment, at least, I'm back online. Turns out the problem with the DSL was...my fault! But of course it was! This is Germany and the customer is always wrong.
The DSL modem had died. The guy I talked to suggested I go buy another one. I asked him why I wouldn't get another one from Telekom. "Hey," he said, in that patented friendly Telekom manner, "you've had this one since 2001."
So today I went to a T-Punkt, and, after waiting about 40 minutes in line, was sold another one for a mere €89.99! There goes the food budget for the forseeable future, but at least it works.
And, last night as I was thinking about this, I remembered my very first contact with Deutsche Telekom and thought I should share it with you nice folks.
When I first got here, I lived in a succession of apartments (well, two) where the phone bill was automatically taken out of the subletter's bank account and I paid them back. But a sometime business associate was moving to Hong Kong and wanted me to take over his apartment, which was huge, so I happily did it. One thing, though: he had to put all the utilities in my name, everything but the lease. There was one problem: they'd had their telephone turned off a few weeks earlier, and this was a time when if you were lucky, it was an eight-week wait for a number, since for some reason there was a shortage of them.
So his wife ran down the street to one of the storefronts Telekom used to have all over the place, and she talked to the lady there, who looked in the computer and said "You're lucky: the number hasn't been reassigned, and we can turn the phone on for the new tenant." So they started setting me up with the new account and old number, the wife explaining that my German was very bad, and I'd authorized her to do this (I think I'd already signed something that said so). "Ward," said the Telekom lady. "Is he English?" "No," the other woman said, "he's American." The Telekom lady stopped filling out the form. "Is he a black man?" she asked. "Oh, no," she was assured. "Good," said Ms. Telekom, starting to rubber-stamp stuff on the papers. "Black people don't pay their bills."
And I wish I didn't have to end this story by saying that when this guy's wife told me of this encounter, she finished by saying "They don't, you know." But she did.
Anyway, lots of other stuff, much more interesting than my own travails here, to report, so I think this blog's going to get active again in the next few days, as we play Hide the Synagogue and report on Berliners' mental health. Now to catch up on the e-mails.