In late October of 1989, I was working in (yet another) witless, dead-end occupation, when an old girlfriend [let's call her Claudia] called me up.
It seemed that she, together with her current boyfriend and another couple, had booked tickets for a trip to (what at the time was) West Germany -- West Berlin, specifically. They were leaving on November 1st and would return in two weeks.
Their problem was, only her boyfriend (a semi-expatriate Pole) spoke any German, and no one else they knew could speak the language. Claudia offered me her boyfriend's spot (in a strictly platonic way, aber natürlich) and would completely pay my way for the full two weeks so long as I acted as chief linguist, translator, fixer and tour guide.
I thought about it for a moment -- ein lange moment, Kinder, because Claudia was beautiful; dark red-haired, green-eyed, legs that went into the stratosphere runway-model stunning, in fact. The Pole was an arschloch in a way only Poles can be; I'm capable of a certain level of charm when the need or other things arise; so, who knew?
Then I said the fateful words, Jeez; I just don't think I can get the time off from work.
Claudia told me later that Berlin was 'one hot town', while they were there, and that they had all partied at The Wall the night it came down and for several days thereafter. Claudia returned, married the Pole, and I never really saw or heard from her again.
Story, as it gets said, of my life.