I was walking home from my physical therapy appointment wearing workout clothes yesterday afternoon. Walking through a nice neighborhood, I saw a group of girls up ahead of me running on the sidewalk. It looked like they were part of a gym class run or an after-school cross-country practice.
I kept walking down the street and came across 4 teenage girls sitting on the ground on either side of the sidewalk. When I approached where they were sitting, they immediately started yelling at me in German. I took out my iPod earbuds and looked around at them bewildered. They just kept yelling at me in German, and they sounded a little hostile. I was so shocked by it all that I couldn’t even muster up the words to tell them I don’t really speak German. Instead, I just kept walking past them with a deeply confused look on my face.
The only word I had been able to make out was “Schnell!” I thought “schnell” meant fast, so I soon realized that they were yelling at me to run faster. I guess my workout clothes made me look like I was part of the race, even though I was walking very leisurely taking in the pretty neighborhood and nice weather with my iPod on and a tote bag over my shoulder.
Even after I had passed them, they kept yelling at me. I thought, I think I was just heckled in a German foot race by a group of teenage girls.
I’m still not sure, because usually, when people speak loudly in German, no matter what they are saying, it tends to sound hostile. There’s a classic video with Dana Carvey and Steve Carrell about Germans who say nice things:
I will give the girls the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were encouragingly rooting for me in the race (that I wasn’t really in). Though, I should probably look up some “mean girl” phrases in case I ever enter a real race so I have a better idea of when I’m getting heckled versus encouraged.