I have gotten two bright red notices on my apartment door about the Schornsteinfeger. the Schornsteinfeger has come by twice now, and is increasingly urgent about visiting my apartment. what the f is a Schornsteinfeger? i ask my german manpanion who can only come up with cryptic clues like, "he is the man in black" or "he comes down the tube" and all i could think was that a Schornsteinfeger is a santa claus in black? well according to google übersetzer, that is a chimney sweep. i do not have a chimney, therefore i do not need a chimney sweep, correct? wrong.
manpanion says "he comes to check the poison in your radiator, he is here to save your life!" poison? i gather this is some sort of carbon monoxide test or something? (why would they only do that once a year?)
so, fine, i stay home from work to wait for the Schornsteinfeger, because apparently, the 4th time he comes you must pay. this is a free service, this Schornsteinfeger.
well, just like an american cable guy, he did not come within his alloted 3 hour time slot. he didn't even come 2 hours after his alloted 3 hour time slot. i knew that as soon as i would leave my house (perhaps make it to work before the end of the day?) he would show up. lo and behold, at 2:30 pm, there is a long-haired man at my door.
he wipes the snow off his shoes like crazy. uses both doormats. he is about to untie his boots when i say, it's kein problem. he is so polite, this Schornsteinfeger. i really should have offered him coffee, then again, i didn't know this whole procedure was going to take hours. he goes up to my bathroom, where the gas heater thing is, and i'm certain he must have sat on the toilet to make a caca or something, because seriously, he was up there a while. i'm putzing around, with my coat on, waiting for him to leave any minute.
finally he comes downstairs with the paperwork. always paperwork. of course i must sign somewhere. i must agree with his assessment that only 4.7 parts per million poison are emitted from my bathroom gas heater! no need to worry! as it is under 1000 ppm. only then, do you worry. he has saved my life! my gasburner is in excellent shape! we are holding hands and jumping! no poison!
the Schornsteinfeger, now showing off that he speaks near perfect english AND french tells me that i will leave to see another year - that is, until his next visit in 2011 when he will return once again in order to reassure me of survival.
i thank the Schornsteinfeger, he asks for my number.. my number? to call you next year! of course! so you don't have to wait around! so polite. and then gives me a momento, a good luck charm if you will. why it is a little ramoneur, no larger than 4 cm, a man in black, with his rope and ladder.