Little Headaches

By Jane Mountain | October 7, 2013

In general, I’m a pretty calm person. I can handles life’s big events, like job interviews, moving house, and travelling around the world by bike, with a fairly high degree of equanimity. It’s the little everyday things that get me stressed out. You know, things like going to the dentist and the post office.

Guess how we spent our day?

Dental. Damn!

To me, the dentist is one of the two lowest value-for-money propositions going. You get to the office and they’re all smiles and warm welcomes. They sit you down and make a big show of adjusting the chair until you’re perfectly comfy. Who cares if my chair is comfortable when you’re going to torture me for the next hour? The pain is such that I would happily give up any and all governmental secrets to my hygienist, if only I knew some.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they somehow, while jabbing a sharp metal object into one of the most nerve-dense and sensitive places in your body, make you feel as though any pain you experience is somehow your fault.

“Oh, does that hurt? You must have very sensitive gums / you should floss more / you should eat more apples.”

Yes, all of these things have been said to me, most of them today.

Then, when the torture is done, you pay handsomely for the pleasure. And what have you got out of it, really? A warning that you need to do something about those old fillings before long, a recommendation that you should come back more often to reduce the pain of the subsequent visits, and some vague hint that you might need some gum grafting in the not-too-distant future.

Seriously, I have plenty of friends who never ever go to the dentist and they chew the same food I do. Plus, they still have the €150 I’ll never get back from this morning’s experience.

Side note. The other lowest value-for-money proposition is fast food. They convince you that you’re paying for something that will keep you alive (ie. food), while simultaneously feeding you something that will slowly kill you (ie. poison in food shape). It should not be allowed.

Postal Woes

Since Thursday, we’ve had a box of our camping equipment sitting on the floor, all ready to be taken over to the post office and mailed to my parents. For some reason, we didn’t manage to get there on Friday or Saturday morning.

Little tent in the small woods, near Boras.

Goodbye little tent, we’ll miss you!

Which would be fine for a normal person, but for me, it’s like having the sword of Damocles dangling above me all weekend. All the things that could go wrong when we finally get to the Post Office have been playing as background music in my mind for three days.

So I was pretty relieved to get that big box of anxiety out of the house today and down to Deutsche Post. As with all places in Germany where it would be really useful if someone could speak English (eg. the train station, the bank), no one at the Post Office does. I only mention this because everywhere else we go, almost everyone speaks English, so it seems weird that these monolingual folks get the best jobs.

Luckily, most of the customers at the Post Office speak perfect English, and since we’re the guys causing the line to snake all the way to the back of the store, they are happy to help translate to get us out of the way of their own postal chores.

German parcels are priced by weight, and we were about 1.2 kg over the 10 kg mark, so we unpacked a few items before shipping it off. It was darned expensive all the same, so I’m really hoping that having written Used Personal Items in block letters on the customs form will convince the Canadians they don’t need to charge duty on the other end.

Little by little, we are chipping away at the remainder of our To Do list, and consequently chipping away at my stress levels.

I will be far less stressed once we are out of this comfortable modern city and on the plane to China, where all we’ll have to deal with is an upside-down world where nothing works the way we expect it to and no one understands a word of what we’re trying to say.

I’ll take that over the Post Office any day.  

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