Monday, March 21, 2005

Strange things about Germany

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I guess it’s a lack of inspiration, or when I have inspiration I figure that someone has already said it better and don’t need to go ranting on top of that.

But I thought I would blog a little about Germany today.

Last week, Sminklemeyer wrote a post about the strange things about Iraq…and I thought: hmmm…I could write a post about weird things here. Okay here goes:

Public Nudity Vs. Being Friendly to Strangers: Germans aren’t prude…but there is no way in hell they are going to start a conversation with a perfect stranger. In the States, it’s normal to go the post-office, and while you are in line you might talk with the person in front of or behind you about anything…it doesn’t matter…you are just passing time in the post office. That just doesn’t happen in Germany. If you start talking to someone you don’t know, they get uncomfortable…if you want to make someone nervous, smile at them.

On the other hand, these people will think nothing of getting naked in front of perfect strangers. Like this weekend, after running a 10K, my friends and I were in the foyer of a theater/opera, which was being used as a changing area. And men thought nothing of it to drop their drawers in front of everyone present.

Also, if you go to a lake in summer, there will be quite a few people totally naked…even in the city park, women are topless. And I don’t even have to mention the public saunas and spas where men and women sauna and swim together, like it was the most normal thing in the world.

I have to admit that I like it, that nakedness isn’t associated with sexuality here. I think it’s cute when a mom, dad and two kids go to the sauna together and it’s not weird, like it would be in the States. But I just wish that they could also start up spontaneous conversations with perfect strangers, and not act like you have the plague if you attempt such a thing.

Oh and apparently, the worse kind of friendliness is when a salesperson is nice to you. It is so distasteful and superficial to them. Everyone complains that they are only nice, because they want you to buy something. Yeah…okay, that’s true…but why is that so bad? If I am going to buy something, the least the salesperson can do is be nice to me.

Cleanliness Vs. Dog Poop: This is one of the cleanest countries I have ever been to, maybe with the exception of Singapore, where you can practically eat off the sidewalk. Every morning you see people outside sweeping in front of their shops, scrubbing doorsteps, etc.
However…for some reason, dogs are allowed to sh*t everywhere. You seriously have to walk with your eyes to the ground, when walking in the city here…it’s not as bad as Paris, but still. And apparently, there is a law against it, with a fine to pay. But it is obviously not enforced. In America, if you see someone letting their dog crap on the sidewalk and not pick it up, you can practically make a citizen’s arrest…I mean, you certainly get the evil eye. But here, people just kind of shrug and look away…Obviously they don’t know that it is possible to exist in a city where you don’t have to play Dog Poop Hopscotch.

Children Vs. Dogs: If you bring a child into a restaurant, you may get the evil eye. But dogs are welcome in all establishments. I often go to bars at night, and people will have brought their dogs with them, and they are sitting obediently under the table. Most often the dogs are way better behaved than children, too.

This list is far from complete, and I will occasionally add a few more.


Blogger Toni said...

Cali one of my sisters has vacation property in Florida of which there are many Germans who come for their month long 'holiday'. As you say they are definitely not concerned with nudity. You see lots of women and men in skimpy skimpy bathing suits and these are people who probably are carrying around 25 to 75 extra pounds. Gross. Then there's the peeing in the bushes, on the beach, in the get the picture. We didn't really find them to be a lovable group. Now the Aussies on the hand were great fun.

2:18 PM  

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