А couple drinking coffee
One day shortly after my arrival in Berlin, I exercised my very poor German by ordering a pizza at a neighborhood Italian restaurant. The audience of my vain attempt to construct a German sentence was man who appeared to be of Turkish descent and was likely born in Berlin. He looked at me from under his dark eyebrows and in the spirit of efficiency, abruptly responded in English to everything I said.
Me: Ich hätte gern ein Pizza. ( I would like a Pizza.)
Him: What kind?
Him: For here?
Me: mmmm, nein. (no)
Him: Anything else?
Me: Nein, danke. (no thank you.)
I sat down on a stool to wait telling myself that after a few weeks he would realize that I was not just passing through.
After a few moments, a woman came in. I recognized her wiry, almost boyish frame, blond hair and tired face from the bar next to my apartment building. Amidst greetings and teasing with the man behind the counter she ordered a glass of wine and indicated that she was going to take her usual spot outside. Just before walking out the door with her glass in her hand, she noticed me, gave me a huge smile, shook my hand, and we exchanged a few words in German.
She announced to me with a great wave of her arms that she does not speak English. I replied that I do not speak German. I thought that the very utterance was proof, but she corrected me and said that I spoke a little German and that I am learning. Then she went outside with a glass of wine while I stayed inside to wait for my food.
Suddenly, the man behind the counter became extremely solicitous. He gave me a menu in English. Declining, I explained that I must learn German, so he gave me a German menu. Then he went back behind the counter and returned with a bowl of peanuts. He explained that they were for me to eat while I waited. Ever after, whenever I would walk by the Italian resturaunt, he would smile and wave. “Gutten Tag!” So I became a part of the neighborhood.