I volunteered to pick up some flowers and a card for a colleague who is retiring. I bopped down to K in Lautern mall to buy both, squeezing in the errand in between doing some last-minute clean-up at home and continuing on to class.
I intended to speak German during all the transactions. However, I forgot to look up some key words: retiring and retirement. D'oh. I didn't have much time so I decided to wing it by saying what I did know:
"Gibt es eine Karte, für wann man ein Rentner wird?"
I imagine that it was a rather awkward way to ask but it did the trick and I left the store with a retirement card and some flowers. The clerk didn't switch to English either. Was it a small victory?