I remember riding the Tube in London with overhead messages to not only “Mind the gap,” but also to mind my wallet and watch for pick-pocketers.
Since living in Germany, I have only encountered a couple of neighborhoods where my Spidey-sense was heightened and I made sure to, “Be aware of my surroundings.” But never in my own neighborhood.
This morning I got a little wake-up call…ok, not literally, but figuratively.
I checked my Facebook newsfeed and a neighbor wrote something to the affect of:
Deutsch, Deutsch…Auto…geklaut… Deutsch, mehr Deutsch.
Me to my husband: Um…What does this say?
My husband: Wha…? Their car got stolen?! And she is asking if anyone has kinder seats they can borrow.
Me: Ok, that’s what I thought, but I’m always misinterpreting everything so I wanted to make sure.
I guess my sense of safety got a wake-up call. And our neighbors don’t didn’t own a luxury vehicle or a sports car. It is was a family style Volkswagen Touran; It isn’t sold in the US, but basically it is like a smaller minivan. My husband described it as, “Like the Routan, but smaller and higher quality.” That’s a German for you.
Me: That is so weird. In the US your car might get stolen if someone wants the parts, or for a joy ride, but that isn’t the type of vehicle for a joy ride. It must have been someone who needed a family car in another country.
My husband: Maybe someone had an order… from Poland.
Me: Ah, ok, an “order” like…would you like fries with that? I guess they have Pollack jokes here too?
I have a little theory about this theft incident.
This pic shows the typical houses on the left, and on the right behind the typical neighborhood, a house from our neighborhood.
Our neighborhood tends to stand out just a little bit. Hm? I wonder why?
We are known as the “special” neighborhood in our city. If Seattle isn’t liberal enough for anyone, come stay a week at our place.
The houses in our neighborhood were built to conserve energy as well as create energy. Let’s start from top to bottom. All houses here have solar panels on the roof; some just to help provide power for heating and others who sell back to the power company.
And my science friends are rolling their eyes right about now as I attempt to explain a dumbed-down version…yep, the science dummy here.
The single slanted roofs (as opposed to the traditional A-frame houses in Germany) are built at a specific angle with regards to the sun.The roof in conjunction with large windows helps keep it cooler in the summer with less direct sunlight and warmer in the winter with more direct sunlight. The houses are all built facing the same southern direction, or north depending on which side the front door was built.
My husband started laughing: Those are supposed to be there.
Me: Um, are you sure?
My husband: It goes along with the ecologically smart design; keeping it warmer or keeping it cooler depending on the season.
Me: Ok, so now we are living like Hobbits.
My husband: Every once in awhile you have to make sure a tree or something isn’t growing up there, but it’s all ok.
Inside each house is a special air ventilation system, which absorbs the air from warmer rooms and distributes to the cooler rooms. Some of the houses have different ventilation systems with different methods for the different seasons, but it is my understanding that it doesn’t use any power…or not much power. Who knows since I don’t think either of us is using it properly.
Our warm/hot water is mostly heated from the solar panels. The walls are very thickly insulated for temperature control reasons. (As for how to hang pictures on these walls, the instructions will be coming soon to a blog near you.)
And to top it off, the area in which we live is referred to as the “Donks” because all of the street names end in donk.
For me, it brings to mind the Bronx since it rhymes. For some other English speakers, say from New Zealand, they just immediately giggle not because it sounds silly, but also because it rhymes with Bonk, which is to…well… you know, like bonking boots or bonk your neighbor’s wife.
Here are some of the street names around us…
While driving through the Donks, not only does the design of the neighborhood stand out, but everyone in our neighborhood has a shared parking lot.
My theory is that our Honkin’-Donkin’ parking lot is kind of like giving car thieves a mall or a one-stop shop to peruse potential vehicles as opposed to driving around to individual mom and pops driveways.
This pic was taken while most people were at work, but the lot is completely full at night.
After talking with my neighbor, I had forgotten that not only had three cars in the parking lot previously been keyed on the same night (mine included), but three other neighbors have had their houses broken in to at various times since we’ve lived here.
Unfortunately, my neighbor now has to wait four weeks before the insurance company pays out the claim and her car seats and stroller are not part of that claim.
It wasn’t my car that got stolen, but being a tight-knit neighborhood, I feel violated too. And I’d love to just conk those car thieves right in the kisser.