Thursday, October 13, 2005

just my luck

Every year in October we get a little slip of paper like this thrown through our mail slot



That means the Schornsteinfeger - the chimney sweep, is coming. And not just ANY chimney sweep, but the Bezirksschornsteinfegermeister, who is the certified district chimney sweep, the big cheese of chimneys. By law, you need to have your chimney/furnace checked twice a year, and this guy is your man. He's the only one allowed to do it - it's called the Kehrmonopol (kehren means 'to sweep'). Apparently there are whole forums on the internet opposed to the fact that there is some kind of German chimney sweep monopoly going on.

We don't have a wood burning fireplace, or any fireplace at all, actually, but we do have a furnace that runs on natural gas. That's where those big words on the slip of paper come in - Immissionsschutz und/oder Abgaswegüberprüfung - immission control and/or flue inspection. We don't want any stray carbon monoxide flying around the house now, do we? The other check, which we aren't even aware of any more because the guy now gets onto the roof through our neighbour's house (we live in a duplex/semi-detached), consists of making sure the chimney isn't blocked in some way.

The chimney sweep usually comes at 7 a.m. on the dot, because we're the first house on his rounds. So I was showered and dressed long before that. 7 came and went, with me wondering where the heck he was. A bit after 8 the doorbell finally rang. I was expecting the same very attractive guy who's been coming to our house for the past 10 years but when I opened the door - oy! THIS chimney sweep was EVEN BETTER than the usual one. A sort of blonde cabana boy type. Quite a sight in his spiffy uniform, tanned fingers firmly clutching the handle of his little black suitcase. Resisting the urge to yell "Surf's up, dude!" at him, I showed him the furnace room instead where he went to work doing whatever it is he does in there.

All was well with our furnace, and I got a handshake out of the deal (the bill arrives next week, of course). Germans shake hands all the time, but shaking hands with a chimney sweep is considered very lucky, especially if a bit of soot rubs off onto you, since images of fire and hearth are believed to bring good fortune. Here in Germany, as in some other countries, chimney sweeps are often hired for weddings to shake the groom's hand and kiss the bride, giving a little speech afterwards - a good omen for the couple's future.


14 Comments:

At October 13, 2005 12:26 PM, Blogger Elemmaciltur said...

Awwwww, Dick van Dyke's a babe!

 
At October 13, 2005 12:33 PM, Blogger christina said...

Elemm - he's a total babe!

 
At October 13, 2005 12:47 PM, Blogger euro-trac said...

A lucky handshake and a handsome surf dude!! What a good start to the day..

 
At October 13, 2005 1:31 PM, Blogger Calamity Tat said...

How wonderful, maybe I'll need to get a chimney sweep for my new wood burning stove....

wv yelling lolipops

 
At October 13, 2005 1:42 PM, Blogger Berlinbound said...

Something I have to look forward to ...

 
At October 13, 2005 1:54 PM, Blogger traveller one said...

Hi Chritina! Thanks for linking to my blog (or glob as my sweet dad calls it!). I love the Mary poppins poster! I don't have a chimney sweep coming today but I do have my acquarium guy to look forward to! I've linked to you now and I'll come back as a regular reader. It's nice to 'know' a fellow Canuck! Kim

 
At October 13, 2005 2:49 PM, Blogger cmhl said...

hey!! the first thing I thought of as well was dick van dyke... LOVE him!

 
At October 13, 2005 3:03 PM, Blogger christina said...

cmhl - Mary Poppins rocks! Those were the days, eh?

 
At October 13, 2005 4:20 PM, Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Very interesting history. Glad you at least had one highliight in your day. :)

 
At October 14, 2005 1:02 PM, Blogger hippo_pepperpot said...

wowza.... sounds like you had some eye candy :o)
I got mine yesterday when I went to buy a light bulb for my headlamps for my new hippomobile....he he he.... I couldn't undo the clip that held it in so the kid that works at the store did it for me...then made sure I got the right one...then put it back in my car for me etc... awwwwwwwwww....he was such a little cutie pie.

wv: move over jeb

 
At October 14, 2005 4:50 PM, Blogger Philip said...

I had no idea that was required - great law. And I hadn't heard about the good luck from shaking his hand.

Nice post.

 
At October 14, 2005 8:37 PM, Anonymous mar said...

Hi again! I have "13 things" posted in case you have some time to come over and read some... Have a nice weekend!

 
At October 14, 2005 11:14 PM, Anonymous Francaise de Coeur said...

Jeezy Pete - I just cannot get over those compound German words. Your "big cheese" chimney sweeper's title almost took the whole line! I'm glad I'm a French speaker...

 
At October 17, 2005 1:05 PM, Blogger swissmiss said...

We get the same thing in Switzerland down to the little flyer in the mailbox saying when he was coming, only our chimney sweep was never cute. No fair.

 

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