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Mr. Scruffy

´Erwin Rommel Street´

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Recently, i was in a street called ´Erwin-Rommel-Straße´ in germany. My jaw droped. I never saw another. And i am a meter-reader, all over the place (´place´ being all along the rhine in germany, pretty much).

 

I´d like to get an international reaction to that. Do you think that´s ´politcally correct´?

 

A piece of background information: Erwin Rommel was known in WW2 as an exceptional german panzer general (who actually already served in the italian campaign of WW1 in commanding position, already to great success), later nicknamed ´desert fox´ for being the german military boss in most of the african campaign (later against Montgomery) and of fabolous success. He later went on to command an army group in the west (IIRC) - the one D-Day was facing. He basically was the german general most western allies fought against.

 

After the (most famous) attempt on Hitler, he was forced to commit suicide (though not directly involved in the consipiracy) and was buried with a hypocritic state-funeral and all nazi-´honors´.

 

A son of his (his only, IIRC) later became the mayor of Stuttgart (major german city) for many years.

 

The street in question is within a 20 (35) miles (km) radius of Stuttgart.

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He got a Robert E. Lee pass - he was so admirable the enemy forgave him. I'm cool with a guy who tried to do something about Hitler having his own street. :b:

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He was probably one of the top 5 brilliant general officers Germany ever produced. And he was not a Nazi. I don't see a problem with it.

 

By the time he made it to El Alamein, he supposed only had 8 functional tanks left. At least I believe thats what von Mellenthin stated in "Panzer Battles". Just one example of his ability to confound most of the allied commanders who opposed him.

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I once read a book that said part of the reason for World War II was that with repairations and whatnot for WWI, the Germans were not allowed to publicly grieve or commemorate their sacrifices and heroism.

 

Rommel was a great general and as far as I know always fought in accord with the Geneva convetion. To die as a result of an attempt on Hitler's life ... puts him on the right side of things morally in history.

 

The Dutch celebrate their courageous public and underground resistance to the Nazis, not the fact that they were second only to Austria in volunteers for the German armed forces.

 

Rommel was also a decorated leader in WWI. He was a good soldier. I think he should be remembered somehow. It's probably not going to be a statue of him in northern Africa or Normandy. A street, park or building seems quite reasonable.

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I can't think of another German WW2 officer more deserving of a street name. Maybe Guderian (another Panzer commander BTW).

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Rommel/Guderian

 

..but I agree with the others. Rommel was neither Nazi nor Nazi-like. No problem with a street named after him. :nod:

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:stupid:

 

Btw is there a von-Stauffenberg-Strasse somewhere?

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Actually, i am glad on receiving such international feedback, cause i agree. It´s quite unusual to be so much about detail concerning WW2-personalities, as often the chorus goes ´german WW2-general = Nazi´ (which is so not true, for many cases, after all, more than 50 of them got executed). And as many people dont have such background on WW2, and will just know, that Rommel was a ´Nazi-general´, i did not expect to ever see a Rommel-street and that if there ever would be an attempt to have one, it´d be shouted down by ignorants. I think the only base on which you could really go against it, is that you´d not want streets named after soldiers at all.

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Rommel's background is more widely known then you expected then. ;)

When Dale/Zkrib mentioned Guderian, I recall reading the name, but that's it.

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Hehe, everytime, i see ´Guderian´ on a bell-sign (meter-reader, remember), i am extra polite and respectful. There are quite a few Guderians out there, actually. Never had a Rommel, though.

 

A little anecdote as a side-note: I once had a bell-sign for a two story home, with two families living in there, which was individually crafted with one family name on top, and the other below. Sound design, if the family names hadn´t been ´Krieg´ and ´Willich´ so that the whole thing reads like ´Krieg will ich´ (war, is what i want). Upon pointing it out to the costumer (´funny bell-sign you are having there...´) it turned out, they never noticed. Bell-signs is what makes a meter-readers day: Ever read the meters of Mr. D. Vader? Well, a co-worker of mine did. But, hey, i read the ones of Mr. Cockram (no kidding - so hard to keep a straight face sometimes). Another funny name i encountered: ´Klaus Borgs´ (which could be translated to: steal-it borrow-it (but whatever you do: dont pay for it! ;D )).

 

The best bell-label i did not encounter during work though: Friends of my mom had these chinese people living in their house. The name on the bell read: ´Lei Chen´ (´Cor Pses´). Now, having ´corpses in the basement´ is a figure of speech in german, meaning, you got some dark secrets. It´s funny, how people dont see these things, for again, i had to point out the comedy behind it to them, before they realized it.

Edited by Mr. Scruffy

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Truth to be told, I don't think Rommel deserved half the hype he got mostly for propaganda purposes from both sides: own side to present him as some kind of super general, the other to disguise the suckiness of their own commanders of the early African campaign. He was a brilliant general on divisional and a very good one on corps level, no doubt, and had a very high tactical skill. His operational level skills however were questionable, and the higher he got, the worse he was, because tactical brilliance gains you little if you're commanding an army or even army group.

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Probably. Those are the little things... :D

 

Sometimes bell-labels are sort of embaressing, too, though, and i better not mention to the costumer, that neither in german nor in english or probably any other language on earth (or anywhere else), the plural is formed with "´s", but just with "s", so having your expensive, individually crafted, brass-bell labeled "Meier´s" or "Müller´s" is an astonishing feat of stupidity on your side and of that who actually made it. I see that so often. I nice way of warning stangers. Might as well put a sign on your door saying ´dyslexic(´)s inside´ (and now, i probably misspelled that), or ´you can be rich without proper education - for proof see doorbell´.

 

What´s also funny about people is, how, at least here, the right on your private data and saving money are usually big concerns to people. Yet, i´d estimate, that more than half the car owners have their number plate individualized for €12.80 (IIRC) to display - private data, usually the initials and year of birth. That´s quite nice for me, when i stand in front of a flat-building with like 8 apartments and try to decide which bell to ring. Just have a look at the cars in front of it. Ahh regional code + SK 1955, let´s see, here we have Stefan Kalium (made the name up of course) on the door bell. Probably retired early, aged 57, now. Et voilà: Bingo, most of the time.

 

People can be so funny, sometimes.

- ´No, i wont let you in, since i cant tell, if you are the ´real´ meter-reader´

- ´Okay, fine, i´ll leave you the number of the city-works, my name is XYZ, please call them to confirm and i´ll be back tomorrow evening, if you dont mind.´

- ´That sounds good. Please excuse my mistrust, but you know, these days you hear/read so much about bad things happening´ (yeah, if you read rainbow press and watch Fox-news-equivalents, sure, but whatever)

- ´No problem. I´ll just go on doing my job, at your neighbors house - see you tomorrow.´

- ´Oh, my neighbors arent home. They are on holidays for the next two weeks...´

*facepalm

[edit: By now, i tend to ask people then, why they are telling me this, when they arent convinced i came with ligit intentions. That usually gets me the first costumer right then, without having to return the next evening, because the only way of not having to admit stupidity at this point is to say ´Well, i guess i do trust you then. Come in, please.´, pretty much.]

 

One time, i was at a small house, the window was cracked (open a tad) and i could overhear the TV of the costumer, whose doorbell i was just about to ring. One of these stupid afternoon talkshows was running and one guy was shouting (something like):

- ´So, there i found this young guy in the basement and asked what he was doing there and he replied he was reading the meters. YEAH RIGHT! reading meters....´

*DINGDONG*

- ´Hello, Ms. XYZ. I have been sent from the city-works, to read your meters...´

Yeah, that one didnt work too well...

 

EDIT:

I´ll continue writing up some job-experiences - quite fun, actually.

 

So, take this advice: When you happen to be in germany, and have to go into a house, which has a german flag displayed in or hanging out of a window, by all means, do not go into the basement, unless you really have to. Because by-and-large, these people think, they are ´prefect germans´ for just displaying the flag, and that this would automatically endow them with the german ´virtues´ (tidiness, being on time, working hard...), when in reality they lack them all, which becomes an obvious fact, once you see the basement.

Those are usually also the people who tell you to just go down to the basement - surely you´ll find the meters on your own. Sure, i would. If the place wasnt a total mess! When the real typical german housewife tells me she´ll let me in under the premise that i wont look too much, i am already glad, these days, for i know, that basement will be really clean. And i tell that to that housewife, too. And if does happen to be a bit untidy (and she doesnt stop expressing embarresment for it), i tell her, that this is really still the ´upper middle-field´ of what i encounter. That usually gets me a smile.

BTW, i came to the definte conclusion, that cities make people mentally sick. If you lived in a city with more than 500,000 inhabitants for more than 5 years and caught no mental defect of one kind or the other, your mind is of extraordinary ressiliance. I, for once, pity the city-dwellers - they dont even realize what they are doing to themselves - cocooning to the extreme, mistrust and sheer hatred. There is worlds between reading meters in a big city or a village - and i clearly prefer the later (which gets me a nice niche among my coworkers, who prefer making the extra money in cities, due to higher meter-density - paid per meter read, you know). In the cities, people often enough dont even know, who lives next door in the same house. In villages, the people in number 12 of a street, will tell me, to be a bit more patient at number 27, for the lady living there alone is 92 years old - and they will call her, telling her that my visit will be soon and ligit.

I actually once had a street, in which like a good dozen of houses in a row were rented by pensioned people. I rang the first doorbell, and the lady went over (on her own) to ring the next, while i was reading her meters. And it went on like this for the whole row. That was totally awesome. Minimum annoyance and time spent, maximum smile and fun. In the city, you ring a bell of a flat-house and you get ´water meter?! That´s none of my business! P*** off!´ or something to that effect, with the door slammed shut in front of your nose, before you can even say that you totally believe that the water meter is none of this particular renters business, as you can clearly smell. Or someone pushes the buzzer to let you into the house, but the basement is locked, and someone would have to unlock it. Yet, nobody reacts to ringing the flat doorbells, or anything really (but someone let you into the house after all). You can hear them behind the door, but they wont open it, or even talk to you through it. Did i mention cities make people sick?

 

That is about the only occasion where i sometimes loose it. I mean having to say and hear the same sentences more than a hundred times a day can be exhausting as is, and sometimes you just think ´god damn it, why are you so stupid, just step aside, and let me do my job - i´ll be gone in a minute, but i am talking here for five already!´, but of course, you would never say that. But if you are standing in the staircase of a flat-house and keep wandering up and down (not like you dont do enough steps a day, anyways, right?) ringing doorbells, loudly announcing ´city works! meter-reading! Got to get into the basement! It´s locked! Somebody open it, please!´, always standing in front of the doorspies, in quasi-uniform, holding ID-Card and data-device in display (even doing fashion-show-alike 360° turns), and you know someone has to be home, or else you wouldnt be inside the house, but nodody reacts at all, out of stupid fear, it can happen that i get angry, saying things like: ´I am usually a patient man, but i am about to loose it here! Come on people: METER-READING - BASEMENT - NOW!!!´ and at the very end going straight to cussing and taunting: ´Okay, that´s it you cowards - your consumption will be estimated now - have fun paying that bill! Your own damn fault - i know someone is home, so i have no choice but to guess, that´s what you want.´, or ´That´s "Access denied", then, uh? Well, that puts it in the hands of the legal department, and out of mine, then...´ Unfortunately, that´s a hollow threat, though, since i have to leave cards for everyone to read the meters on their own and send it in (and i dont get paid for that at all). And the threat never worked either. It still feels good, though, to get some steam off sometimes... ;P Please note, though, that initially, i really try hard to meet the people living in flats with the same respect as i do with people in houses (that is harder than you might think it is - it should go without saying, but in reality this is quite rare, but you wont notice this, unless you pay attention to it). It´s not them being less rich, which makes me act like this, it´s them wasting my time.

Edited by Mr. Scruffy

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I haven't seen a meter reader in decades. I'm reading them myself and report it by mail or online. I didn't even know, that they still exist.

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Ever had this problem? :D

 

[video=youtube;v5p-YQkbe_s]

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Neither did I. I just moved to Germany and promptly got a note in the mailbox, reading that the meter reading came by only to find an empty house. Also the request to send the numbers on my meter to them by e-mail :)

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Oh, yeah, Zoid, there are wierdos out there, and if they are out there, i´ll visit them. In fact, my standard reply, if someone asks me ´how do i know you are not some sort of psychopath´, is ´Well, how do i know, you arent one? Think about it - who is really at risk here? You, letting one guy in, or me, visiting hundreds of homes?´ And cheaters? Sure. You just never tell them, when you caught them.

 

So there was this one costumer, letting me in, after appointment, leading me to his meters and then announcing ´Now, i´ll tell you the numbers to type in´, with the meter-reading blinded by post-its. I was just smirking, saying that i´d prefer to read them myself, really. Upon which he replied, that this wont happen and that he´ll take self-reading cards then. Which is what i did. Back on the street, i took the notes, to file a report (completely unpaid for, but you know, you dont take me for a fool, like this, unpunished), saying that his self-readings will most probably be fraudulent and describing the situation. He could have simply not let me in, in the first place (the appointment card says, that a card for self-reading will be left, if noone is home for the appointment), get the cards this way and just not try to make his cheating look like mine (´i didnt give those values - the meterman did´). That really pissed me off.

 

BTW, most of the time, we work with a software that does plausibilty-checks and if it fails on a reading, we have to make a picture of the meter. I usually dont tell people this either, but rather say it´s a random thing, to proof that we are actually out reading the meters and not making the numbers up (which is the one biggest no-no in this job - the boss will sue you, if he´ll find out). I used to tel the truth, but all you get is a bunch of stupid questions, like how much less/more the bill will be. Like i could tell!

 

There´s all sorts of oddities, which makes the job so interesting. Sometimes, it takes a second to grasp, what´s actually going on. Like this one time, the door opens, i hardly finsih saying ´city works´ and from the back of the room, someone darts at me with a heap of pieces of papar going like ´nonononono- look here - everything is okay...´. And then i look at the papers and realize it´s the bank account print-outs. They thought i was going to switch them off. I´d never do that! That´d be mean! No seriously, i didnt know how to do it, if i wanted to. The people were so relieved upon hearing that everything was okay, that i just needed to read the meter.

 

That other time, i stand in a flat-house staircase, in front of an open meter-box, when my boss calls. The conversation goes on for a bit, and an inhabitant opens the door of his flat next to me and keeps looking at me, in my work-uniform with the word ´meter-reading´ on it about a dozen times, until i am finished on the phone. As i just want to get back to work, he goes like (snobishy tone): ´Soooo, my i inquire what you are doing there?´ - you really want to give a funny response, but you have to watch, that he wont be pissed off by his own stupidity and complains about you at the works...

 

Oh, and of course there are these poor lonely people, often somehow physically impaired or just old, who try to keep you there, for as long as they possibly can and tell you all sorts of things. They are so freaking vulnerable - if i wanted to, i could do really nasty stuff with them. Of course, i dont. In such cases, take this as a rule: Only directions you walk are: to the meter and to the door. No ´let me show you this or that in the living room´. If they want to show you something, they´ll have to bring it, and by the time they return, you have already made another couple of meters towards one of the above mentioned two destinations. You are certainly a good person, if you feel the desire to spend some time with these pour souls, but you putting yourself in a delusion, if you believe that this will save them. Be friendly, be polite, but also be determined. If someone tends to talk you to the ground (balablabalabala), turn the stick on them and ask questions or tell them something of yourself, showing them, how boring that is. Another tactic is to piss people off on a personal level, like you see from the interior that these really conservative people, you just drop a line about your pet-rat, or something, if they seem to like you too much, for your taste.

 

´Turning the stick´ is something i do quite frequently on a preventive base: If i feel, i cant stand another person telling me the same ****, i dont care about, i just simply turn very outgoing (which is really not my nature), and note stuff i see in the house and from there switch to something about me (prime-example: ´What a cute cat... you know, that´s the biggest drawback of my job: That i cant have one. I love cats. But i live in hotels, mostly, soo... ramblerambleramble... well - that was all, thank you and good bye´.

 

About the job itself. Well, in my home town, it´s costumer-reading as well. For now. In a couple of years, they will want to check it themselves again, because some people are too dumb to do even that right (floating point being the most common mistake, but also, some people think, that the water is counted by the buzzing thing in the wall, while the electricity is probably running through the tubes - or they write down the serial-number instead of the reading). The company i work for, which in turn works for various energy-suppliers (water being counted as energy, here, too), has so much work to do, right now, that i took a vacation. Sounds Paradox, but i really dont like being thrown around like a german armored division in the east, in 1944, always filling gaps, which is what it would be like atm (i am sort of a freelancer, btw, without fixed contract, working whenever i want to, not working when i dont want to). If you do live in germany, and have a car, look tidy and dont mind talking to people, i could easily hook you up (and i´d even get a provision for it). Chances are, we´d meet in person sooner or later (possibly even sharing a hotel-room - now doesnt that sound tempting - lol). It´s a job, that could be done (much better actually) by apes - if people would let apes into their houses, that is. No qualification required (except driving licence).

Edited by Mr. Scruffy

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...You mean "customer" not "costumer"...

 

This is sorta interesting stuff.

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...You mean "customer" not "costumer"...

 

[...]

 

Yeah, though sometimes it appears to be the same. :D

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:lol: Took me a while to figure out what you meant, though.

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Yeah, though sometimes it appears to be the same. :D

 

Especially around bierfest time? :cute:

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Jobs in the service sector, you got to love them. We get our fair share of weirdos in the restaurant as well... :D

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Well, yeah. I´ll add another page, i think.

 

So, as i indicated earlier, we usually live in hotels, when we are working. And often we are working in teams. And man, can that get annoying. Every single one of us gets talked to way too much during the day and has a lot to tell in the evening for balancing his personal talk-listen ratio for the day. After a couple of days, it can really get into some sort of psychological extreme situation, where conversations rapidly increase in volume, people almost shouting at each other, without anyone having any argument. Try to watch your favorite TV show in that. Being a smoker doesnt help either. This part can get the most exhausting of the whole work, if worst (co-worker(s) you dont like) comes to worst (2-or-more-bed-rooms-hotel). In any case, alcohol consumption usually starts high during the week and tends to increase slowly, but steadily (i reset that at home, though).

 

We work independently, more or less, getting the device with the data, the cards we need and an ID to display (as well as the jacket). Then it´s upto us from there. Paid per meter read and having the quota in mind, we ´conquer´ the street by street. There´s different sorts of streets, and quarters and such and also different regions in germany entirely. It´s a really big RPG, with different dialects and habits among the lands population, and there is a lot XP to be gained. Some of that is not even transferable: Every face is different, and a way of approaching the cOstUmer, that works for one reader´s face might not for anothers - every one has to find his own way for that part. There´s sort of riddles and hints, too. Like sometimes you have to get a janitors number, but only get it via three others. Or who had the key to the basement, last, did Frau Müller do her laundry before Frau Meier did hers, or after? - now that is a sidequest, right there!

 

In this game, if you want to see it as that, replaying parts is the most fun! Coming back to a place after year, and having grey memories pop up around every corner, is special. On the third time, you really know the place, how to get the keys, who to ask what and so on. Of course, that pays off, too. But repetition of places is rather rare - mostly you are going to where you have never been before. Exploring non-stop. In beautiful places, i call it extreme-tourism. See, i dont stop at the door... :D

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Those are some nice anecdotes, makes good reading material, thanks for sharing :b:

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