Tag Archives: Germans in Los Angeles

Back At the Happiest Place on Earth

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BACK AT THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH

Since June of 2017, I have been counting down the months, weeks, and days to one particular event happening on February 1st: a trip to Disneyland.  Yes, you read that right, I bought my ticket back in June to go to an event the following year.  But it was for a very good reason.

The tickets were half off, and it was a special event sponsored by California State University Fullerton.  In very humble fashion, the school decided to celebrate its 60th anniversary at the theme park, and invited all its students along. Way to celebrate a birthday!

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Of course my college friends and I didn’t want to miss this, and so we set our alarms to midnight on June 1st, when tickets went on sale.  Luckily, all four of us were able to score a ticket before the event sold out.

Fast forward to February 1st, 2018, ten years after my last trip to Disneyland.  The last time I have been to this magical place was Thanksgiving 2008 with my back-then host family and one of my best friends.

I know it sounds very cliché, but when my friends and I stepped foot into the theme park it felt like entering a different world.  Perfectly arranged flowers in the shape of Mickey Mouse greeted us and I instantly felt like a little kid full of excitement and happiness.

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We made our way towards the famous Main Street, and walked along the many cute little shops located around the area until we reached the Disneyland castle.  Of course we couldn’t pass up on not taking any pictures in front of it.  This turned out to be quite difficult though, with hundreds of park visitors trying to accomplish the same.

After a few tries we gave up and decided to have some fun by going on one of the many rides.  We headed straight to the Matterhorn attraction, which I remember being the favorite of my host kids back in the days.  It was quite a fun ride, even though I didn’t dare to look anywhere else than at my friend sitting in front of me due to my fear of heights.

After conquering the Matterhorn, we took a slower pace and headed towards a different area of the park.  I am sure many of you have probably visited Disneyland before and know that the park is divided in several different areas, such as Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Frontierland.

The park has attractions for every age group, from the very little guests to us adults.  Even if you are not the rollercoaster type like me, there are still plenty of other fun things to do and explore, plus the park offers many great food options.  I could have just eaten my way through and would have been busy all night long.

The only fact that kept me from doing so was that most of the restaurants closed after nine p.m., when the day pass visitors had to leave the park.  That turned out to be a challenge for me since I am a vegetarian, and so my other vegetarian friend and I went on a quest to find something good to eat.

I eventually ended up with a vegetarian Gumbo in a bread bowl (yum).   Besides this tasty dinner dish, we also indulged in Mickey Mouse shaped macaroons and beignets (so so good!).

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After we finished eating, we intended to walk over to Tomorrowland. On our way over, we suddenly heard loud music coming from the Sleeping Beauty Castle, accompanied by a laser show in the colors of the rainbow.

As we walked closer, we saw a group of people dancing in front of the castle while a DJ was playing popular club music tracks.  Yup, my school sure knows how to throw a birthday bash.

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We danced a little (well, actually it was mostly me) before we continued our way to Tomorrowland, where we visited the Star Tours attraction, a 3D ride through space. For the rest of the night, we went from ride to ride until closing time at 1 a.m.  Luckily, we never had to wait long in line.

I am not sure how long it will take me this time till I am going to visit Disneyland again.  I am hoping not another 10 years, but since I just saw today in the news that the park raised its admission prices again, I think I will pass until my school decides to celebrate its birthday there again.

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Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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My Wagging Year in Review

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MY WAGGING YEAR IN REVIEW

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had wonderful Holidays, no matter how you celebrated. In this past week of the new year, I have seen a lot of posts about people reviewing the past year on social media.  This inspired me to do a specific “year in review” post.

I have been working as a dog walker for over a year now, and let me tell you, there have been some situations that caused me to consider quitting. Luckily though, the positive experiences outweigh the negative ones, and my tremendous love for dogs keeps me going every day.

So today, I’d like to share with you my top five most memorable moments working as a dog walker in Orange County and Los Angeles.  Let’s dive right into it, shall we?

1)  I once accepted an on-demand walk in the Playa Del Rey area, and when I arrived at the house to get the dogs, an older man opened the door. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting yet, but did I mention that he was topless? I am by far no prude, and he could definitely afford to walk around without a shirt- he was in great shape.  I just didn’t expect it and was a little taken aback.

I tried to stay cool and to not glance at his chest, but I definitely got distracted. I couldn’t wait to leave with the dogs, and when we returned from our walk, he was fully clothed. I have only had one other walk booked with these two dogs, and the second time, his wife was home. The inside of me just thought “Thank God” when a completely dressed woman opened the door for me.

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2) I had this one regular client who was usually never home when I picked up his dogs. At one point back last year, he requested a walk for Sunday morning. As usual, I expected for him not to be home.  Once I had opened the front door to his house, I noticed a weird, unusual smell- it can be best described as a mixture of pot and alcohol, all throughout the house.

When I stepped further inside and looked into the living room to see if the dogs were there, I witnessed what looked like the aftermath of a pretty wild party. Pillows were scattered all over the floor; open and empty bottles of all sorts of alcohol were lying around and standing on tables; but no sign of either one of the dogs. I started to call out their names until I heard noises coming from upstairs.

I looked up but couldn’t see anything, until a male voice started speaking. He sounded very apologetic as well as a bit hung over. I figured that it was the owner, who was recovering from the previous night. I didn’t get to see him (Again, Thank God!), I just heard him gushing the dogs down the stairs, which then came walking towards me with wagging tails. I could swear they seemed relieved to get out of the marijuana infused house just as much as me.

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3)  The most serious incident that occurred during my dog walking days happened in November.  I was watching one of my private clients’ two dogs while she was on vacation.  As usual, I took the pups out on an afternoon stroll around the pretty quiet neighborhood.  Nothing out of the regular happened until we passed one particular house.

While the dogs were sniffing around, I suddenly heard a female voice from behind, calling “Excuse me.” I turned around and saw this older lady, holding a phone in her hand.  She looked at me desperately and asked if I could call 911 for her. I never had to dial these three digits before in my life, and I got very nervous and anxious when she asked me. Of course, I didn’t hesitate a second to call while the lady sat down in a chair on her porch.

The dispatcher on the other end of the line picked up in an instant. She asked me about the emergency, and since I didn’t know the situation, I turned to the lady and prayed that she would be able to answer. She told me that she had trouble breathing and that she was over 80 years old. My heart sank. While I was reporting this information through the phone to the dispatcher, a police car was already arriving.  I was astonished how quickly help came by.

The police officer looked after the lady while I was still on the phone.  The next moment, I could hear sirens from far. Again, I couldn’t believe how fast the first responders arrived. Once the dispatcher told me that everything was taken care of and I could hang up the phone, I quickly walked over to the police officer and the lady and asked him if he’d like me to stay.  He said that it was o.k. for me to leave.

I still kept looking back towards the house when I proceeded with the dogs just to see if the ambulance had arrived.  I felt really sad for this lady since she was living by herself and had to ask a complete stranger to help her out during such a scary situation. The following days, I kept being on the lookout for her whenever I passed this particular house. Luckily, one of these days she was standing on her porch together with another woman. I felt relieved to know that she seemed to be better.

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4) I had a “walk” once with a very energetic (this is an understatement) dog.  All I knew was that the dog was still a puppy, and so I was super excited before my arrival at the client’s house. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into until I got the dog.  It was a nice summer day, and the puppy was waiting for me in the backyard.  The owner, like so many of my clients, wasn’t home, but he had left notes of where to find the dog’s leash.

There were two pretty major problems that made it a little tricky to get the walk started. One, the dog was behaving totally out of control and kept jumping while playfully nipping me at the same time. Two, I couldn’t find the leash for God’s sake. I looked around and around but no sign of it anywhere.  I started texting the owner to ask him and he directed me to a couple spots where I should search.  Still no success.

After being at the house for about 30 minutes already and still not able to start the walk or find the leash, the owner suggested I should just take one of his belts from his closet and strap it around the dog’s harness.  I couldn’t believe what I read. The suggestion made me very uncomfortable, especially since the dog was so hyper and would probably break loose.

I told the owner my concerns and he was understanding. He then suggested I would just play with his dog and count it as walk time. Luckily shortly after, the owner’s roommate arrived and was able to find the leash for me in the garage.  The puppy and I quickly proceeded on our outing so that he could release some energy.

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5) One of my favorite memories from last year happened during the summer.  I was doing a house sitting up in LA and had a new walk client scheduled for one of the mornings I was up in the area.  All the information I received beforehand included the address and the breeds of the two dogs.

On the particular morning, I made sure to arrive at the client’s house a couple minutes before the scheduled time in case he would have any questions and so that the dogs could get used to me. I was standing in front of the owner’s apartment door and knocked.  I heard dogs barking and footsteps coming towards me.

I did not expect that I was about to be greeted by a particular person.  Once the front door was fully opened. I had to raise my head up to be able to see the guy’s face, he was that tall.  I don’t think I have ever seen such a tall person in my life before.  He measured at least 7 feet.

Right away I figured that he must be a Basketball player.  There was just no other way.  He was not the most talkative person, but he helped me get the dogs ready and gave me a key to the house since he was not going to be home upon our return.  I know it sounds silly, but I got a little star struck and became extra nervous to make a good impression.

The walk went fine, and throughout the entire hour I couldn’t stop thinking about my first “celebrity-walk-experience”.  As soon as I dropped the dogs back of at the house, I went to a coffee shop right across the street for Internet access.  I looked up the dog owner’s name and sure enough, he was an NBA player. Of course, I couldn’t hold back and had to share that experience with my friends, and it kept me smirking for days.

To many more wagging experiences to come in 2018 and to all of you a year full of happiness and health!

Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte

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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Halloween Horror Nights

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HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS

One of my favorite times of the year is finally back among us: Halloween. I love walking around my neighborhood looking at houses fully decked out with Halloween decorations. This year on the actual Halloween day I am going to do something I have never done before: passing out candy.  I am sorry if I gave you the intention that I would be doing something spectacular, but it is a first for me since I am usually the one who is out and about on this day.

One event I never miss during this time is the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Hollywood.  This year marked my third year in a row that I went, and I love this event more every time I go.  One of my best friends laughed at me when I told him this since he remembers me all to well back in the day,  when I was too scared to even step foot into a haunted house.  Boy, times definitely have changed.

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The Horror Nights in Hollywood started twenty years ago and have become an established event. Each year, for about a month and a half, Universal Studios gives residence to various spooky characters from famous horror movies.  This attraction is definitely not for the faint-hearted, as the monsters walk freely around the park, trying to scare the masses of people.  The event also hosts several mazes, with each of them dedicated to specific horror films.

This year, the park hosts seven mazes in total with the following themes: Saw, The Shining, Ash vs. Evil Dead, American Horror Story, Insidious, The Horrors of Blumhouse, and Titans of Terror. In addition, visitors can ride on the Terror Tram, or take part in the Walking Dead attraction, which the park hosts year round.  Several rides are also open during the Halloween Horror Nights, including the Transformers ride, which is an amazing 4D experience you don’t want to miss.

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(Part of the outside of the Saw maze)

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(Outside of the Ash vs. Evil Dead maze)

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(Part of The Walking Dead Attraction)

I personally got very excited when I heard about the Saw maze. I really can’t watch such graphic movies anymore without having to puke and facing terrible nightmares the following night.  For some reason though, the mazes don’t freak me out as much. I am mostly amazed at how detail oriented and lifelike Universal builds them every single year.  You really do feel like you are at the scene of the particular movie.

The Saw maze was pretty good, but not my favorite one this year.  I have to admit that I had never heard of Ash vs. Evil Dead before, but the attraction was amazing! It was pretty scary, and I jumped and screamed several times when the horrific characters came out of nowhere.  Bless my sweet friends who bore with me while I was jumping all over the place out of fear. Especially my one friend hasn’t had it easy the past two years she attended the event with me.

Last year, I accidentally hit her in the nose with my elbow when I jumped backwards after being scared by an American Horror Story character.  We were already exhausted from having to wait more than two hours to get into this attraction, and then I had to top it off by actually hurting her.  I felt horrible, to say the least.  But you’d think I would have been better at getting it together this year.  Nah, I am embarrassed to say so, but unfortunately, you are wrong.

We had agreed that this year, I would be the one walking behind my girlfriends, so I wouldn’t be able to hit anyone of them with my elbow by accident.  Well, I was successful at not hitting my friends.  But unfortunately, I still wasn’t able to control my body.  When we bravely made our way through the Titans of Terror maze, one of the spooky characters came at me out of the dark. I started screaming and jumped forward, my arms circling in the air and getting a hold of my friend’s net sweater she was wearing and pulling it down.

She first thought that one of the characters had touched her, which is actually not allowed due to one of the park’s regulations.  She turned around and looked into my apologetic face, realizing that it was me yet again who hurt her.  Gosh, I really can’t control my body when I am freaked out.  From that point out, I was holding my hands whenever we walked through a maze and made sure to keep a distance.  I really can’t say if she would go a third time with me to the Horror Nights.

All in all, it was a night full of fun, my friend forgave me, and I am already looking forward to next year’s event.  If you would like to check it out yourself this year or at some point in the future, I have some tips that might be helpful:

  • Try to go early. The wait for mazes can go up to more than two hours during peak times.  Universal offers early entry at 5p.m.  My friends and I went at 5:30p.m. the first weekend the event was open in mid September, and the longest we had to wait one time was 55 minutes.  Other than that, we never waited longer than 30 minutes.
  • If you can, go ahead and purchase a front of the line pass. This gives you mostly instant access to the attractions without having to wait in the main lines.
  • Don’t bring any liquids when you go. Universal Studios Hollywood has a security checkpoint, and they will make you throw out any liquid items you posses. One year, I had to throw out my body mist spray because it wasn’t allowed.
  • Check the wait times for attractions online on the Halloween Horror Nights side. That way, you are always up to date and can see which mazes might have shorter waiting times than others.

I hope you all are going to have a spooky Halloween, no matter how you celebrate!

Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte, pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Cake Disaster Part Three

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CAKE DISASTER PART THREE

When I first decided to share my cake disaster, I didn’t intend to make a three part series out of it.  But when I started writing down this disastrous memory (I know I am a tad bit overly dramatic here), I realized that it would turn into a novel if I wouldn’t break it up.

Since my attention span doesn’t last too long and I personally get discouraged reading an article that is more than about half a page, I figured it would be best to split this story up (oh how I wish this really was just a fictional event and not a real-life experience.)  But anyways, let’s continue where I left of last time.

Luckily, my boss was very understanding of the situation and tried to calm my crying self down.  After all, I still had to go face the wedding planner and her entourage, trying to deliver a broken cake to them.  In that moment, I wish I was still a little kid whom it would be easily forgiven if it would have dropped a cake (maybe not a wedding cake, point taken, but who would give a wedding cake into a child’s hand anyways.)

I still had some driving time ahead of me before arriving at the venue, and I kept telling myself that somehow, the wedding staff would be empathetic and able to fix the cake.  Eventually, my tears had dried and I turned onto the windy road up to the Malibu Mountains.

The scenery was really beautiful: deserted windy roads, surrounded by meadows, the mountains, and wineries.  It took me a little to figure out the way to the venue, which made me arrive even later.  But that was the least problem I encountered that day.

Once I had securely parked my car I somehow managed to step out, still trying to convince myself that “everything would be fine.”  I carried the cake over to a table close by, where I then called the wedding planner.  She soon came walking over to me and spotted the disaster.  I explained the situation to her, hoping for the best.

It was no surprise that she wasn’t too thrilled about the situation.  She asked me in all seriousness if I could “just drive back, get the cake fixed, and bring it back.” I am sorry, lady, but it took me almost three hours to get there, and the cake would obviously not make it back in time.

So that option was crossed out quickly. I then suggested to her that maybe the florist would be able to do something about it.  The wedding planner was ok with that and directed me and the cake towards the main venue.

Unfortunately, it was very windy on this given day.  I had to walk really careful and slow, but I still felt the cake moving a tiny bit from the gust whirling around us.  I did manage to carry the cake over to the florist with no further incidents (thanks God.)

She inspected it and was not too happy about what she saw, but she wanted to give it a shot and sent me up to a small cottage with a kitchen where the cake was supposed to be stowed.

Again, I fought the gusty winds, balancing the cake on my hands.  Once I had reached the cottage and put the cake on a table, I let out a sigh of relief.  Relief that I didn’t drop it again, and relief that I was about to get out of this uncomfortable situation failry soon.

While waiting for the florist to make her way up, I looked around the room.  I saw wooden signs with the name of the bride and groom.  I felt horrible just imagining if it was my special day and I had to hear the news of a broken cake. I was quickly ripped away from that thought when the florist entered the room.

She kneeled in front of the cake, inspecting it while she bombarded me with questions and comments: “Why did you not bring cake tools?” “Aren’t you a baker?” “THIS is the cake they wanted? Looks so simple, you can barely see the colors,” and so on and so on.  I patiently and uncomfortably answered her everything, stating that I am just a coordinator and neither a delivery person or baker.  She eventually set me free by saying that she got this and that I could leave.

I wanted to scream my relief out, but instead I just walked quietly and fast down the meadow towards my car, jumped in it and drove off.  I called my boss and gave her the rundown of what just happened at the venue.  We both put it down as a learning experience and moved on from it.  I couldn’t wait to be back in Orange County, join my friends for my girlfriend’s birthday and get a drink in my hand.

The whole trip took me seven hours.  Seven hours!  That was a clear turning point for me.  From that moment on I did not fulfill any more deliveries.  And, to be honest, I think my boss liked it that way, too.

Images: pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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You May Have Your Cake, But You Can’t Always Eat It

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YOU MAY HAVE YOUR CAKE, BUT YOU CAN’T ALWAYS EAT IT

Dear Readers,

I know it’s been a while.  Unfortunately, it’s been way too long, and I do feel bad.  I missed writing and taking the time to be creative.  But, as all of us know, life happens.  My life has been extremely busy these past couple months.  I am not complaining as I love being busy, I just deeply regret that I didn’t have time to sit down, be inspired, and write.

The thing is I probably could have produced somewhat of an article each week- but it would have felt more as a chore than something that I truly enjoy. Busting out an article because you have to instead of because you want to produces (obviously) different results.  But I am finally able to slowly get back into the swing of things.

As I have mentioned in one of my last pieces, I started working with dogs, and I love it!  Being with animals is such a stress reliever, and I met so many wonderful people through it as well.  But besides this opportunity, I also started working as a coordinator for a baker.  One of my friends was doing the job before, but since she started a full time job she was unable to continue the work and recommended me.

The position sounded really great as I was able to work remotely, so it perfectly fit in with my schedule.   But, as this happens a lot in life as well, things came different at some point than discussed.  In theory, my duties consisted of handling e-mail customer inquiries, a fun and easy task.  Of course, it took me a little in the beginning until I got the hang of it, but I eventually was able to spend less than one hour a day working from my computer.

Things started to change about a couple weeks into my job.  I knew that my friend handled some of the pastry and cake deliveries in the past as she was living less than five minutes away from the bakery.  I, on the other hand, live about an hour away from Redondo Beach, where the shop is located.  So I became a little skeptical when my boss started asking me to do deliveries as well.

I might not have minded it that much if it wouldn’t have been on a weekend, but to ask me to come out two days in a row to deliver cakes just didn’t sound too appealing to me, especially since one of the locations included Compton, which I thankfully turned down.  As a compromise though and since I didn’t want to seem entitled, I agreed to accomplish the delivery of an ice cake to Marina Del Rey.

The whole way from Redondo Beach to its final destination I felt like I was on my way to Siberia.  Since it was an ice cake, I had to put the air conditioning in my car on full blast. Even though I ended up with a cold I am happy to report that the cake made it to the party without any harm.

From that day on, my boss figured she could sign me up for more deliveries.  Without even asking me, she concluded that I was in charge of spending one precious Saturday in April driving up to the Malibu Canyons to deliver a wedding cake.  If that didn’t already sound bad enough, let me tell you that the notorious cake was only supposed to be used for photography purposes and not to be eaten.  Anyways, since my boss was supposed to go out of town that weekend, she told me that I have to do this delivery.

I wasn’t very happy, to say the least, especially since it was my friend’s birthday and I would be missing half of the celebrations.  But what was I supposed to do when my boss tells me to do it, even though deliveries were not part of my job description in the first place?  I know, I know, I sound like a whiner and unappreciative.  Well, you might feel me a little more after I tell you the whole tale of that one fateful day.

It was a warm and sunny Saturday morning.  I had come to terms with the fact that I was about to drive the 160 miles round trip to deliver a simple twelve piece cake into the middle of nowhere while my boss was basking in the Palm Springs sun.

To my surprise though, she was still working on the masterpiece when I arrived at the bakery in Redondo Beach.  She told me that she had to cancel her girls’ trip since she still had a couple orders to finish.  I instantly felt bad and selfish, and I swore to myself to bury any feelings of irritation about my interrupted weekend plans.

We ended up sharing some bonding conversation while she was finishing up the wedding cake.  Looking at the clock, I got a little nervous considering that the cake was supposed to arrive in Malibu at 11 a.m. and it was already past nine.  Luckily though, she was almost done.

Since I am a pretty clumsy person, I didn’t decline her offer to securely transport the cake to my car.  She put it in a carton box and carried it over to my passenger seat, where she positioned it in a way to make it easy for me to pick it up and switch it onto the cake board once I arrived at the destination.

We then exchanged our goodbyes, not knowing what unanticipated turn the whole day would take.  But more to that story next time.

Image: pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.


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