I’m on Eisenbahnstrasse at a local bakery amongst several hurried locals, all of us in a formless line. Right now, it’s my turn at the counter, and I quickly–no, proudly–place my order for bread: Ich brauche… Then it’s time to pay. Uh oh.
The clerk doesn’t move as I angle for a better view of the cash register. What in the world does Vier Euro und neunundzwanzig mean? Ah, it’s 4,29 – I owe 4 euros, 29.
What I want to do is quickly hand over what’s owed. What I am doing is discerning a two-cent euro from a one-cent and looking like someone who moves slow and rickety, more than her appearance suggests…
Sorry y’all. And that is, loosely, the phrase you need to know in the language of whatever country you’re visiting. I’m in Deutschland. Entschuldigen Sie. Most of the folks waiting at the Bäckerei tell me not to worry about taking so long to pay. I think. Anyway, they’re smiling.