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501 German Oddities: Observations from an Innocent Abroad

501 German Oddities: Observations from an Innocent Abroad

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501 German Oddities: Observations from an Innocent Abroad

Length:
144 pages
2 hours
Released:
Sep 14, 2014
ISBN:
9781311204219
Format:
Book

Description

Do you often feel the uncontrollable urge to drive at ridiculously high speeds when out on the freeway? Does that constant, nagging struggle between the opposing sides of your inferiority-superiority complex keep you up at night? Are you brutally direct, painfully precise and sometimes feel like you’re speaking a foreign language because no one seems to understand you? Vorsicht (watch out)! You might be German. In that case you won’t have any use for this book. Have a nice day.

If, on the other hand, you have always been puzzled by odd German Attitudes, Behavior or Cultural practices, then this is the book for you. You are not alone, you see. Nor is there anything wrong with you reacting that way. Your puzzlement is a perfectly healthy and normal human response to the cognitive dissonance and other psychological disrruptions that often dissonate and disrupt when foreigners make unprotected contact with high-grade Germanness. Or at least that’s what a specialist in Vienna told me.

As Winston Churchill once said, “Germany is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Actually, he said Russia when he said that but I’m pretty sure he meant Germany. He was Winston Churchill, after all, and he had been around a bit. I certainly would have said Germany. And I wouldn’t, much less couldn’t have said it better myself. Germany and the Germans are indeed enigmatic and, well, really weird sometimes. This collection of random personal observations and unsolicited opinion is an attempt to document just that. I cannot guarantee that this list of German oddities is complete, of course. I can assure you, however, that enjoying these oddities in the privacy of your own home is a relatively safe and effective way to partake in the German experience without any of the harmful side effects. Viel Glück dabei (and good luck with that).

Released:
Sep 14, 2014
ISBN:
9781311204219
Format:
Book

About the author

Dazed and confused about Germany in general and Berlin in particular, Hermann Observer (aka Clarsonimus Maximus) is a mean, angry, cynical and nasty old expatriate American [place favorite expletive here] who observes the world around him in quiet desperation.


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501 German Oddities - Hermann Observer

Text Copyright

© 2018 by Hermann Observer

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without prior permission in writing from the author.

Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

Do you often feel the uncontrollable urge to drive at ridiculously high speeds when out on the freeway? Does that constant, nagging struggle between the opposing sides of your inferiority-superiority complex keep you up at night? Are you brutally direct, painfully precise and sometimes feel like you’re speaking a foreign language because no one seems to understand you? Vorsicht (watch out)! You might be German. In that case you won’t have any use for this book. Have a nice day.

If, on the other hand, you have always been puzzled by odd German Attitudes, Behavior or Cultural practices, then this is the book for you. You are not alone, you see. Nor is there anything wrong with you reacting that way. Your puzzlement is a perfectly healthy and normal human response to the cognitive dissonance and other psychological disrruptions that often dissonate and disrupt when foreigners make unprotected contact with high-grade Germanness. Or at least that’s what a specialist in Vienna told me.

As Winston Churchill once said, Germany is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Actually, he said Russia when he said that but I’m pretty sure he meant Germany. He was Winston Churchill, after all, and he had been around a bit. I certainly would have said Germany. And I wouldn’t, much less couldn’t have said it better myself. Germany and the Germans are indeed enigmatic and, well, really weird sometimes. This collection of random personal observations and unsolicited opinion is an attempt to document just that. I cannot guarantee that this list of German oddities is complete, of course. I can assure you, however, that enjoying these oddities in the privacy of your own home is a relatively safe and effective way to partake in the German experience without any of the harmful side effects. Viel Glück dabei (and good luck with that).

Why should I care about the nonsense I said yesterday?

- Konrad Adenauer

Preface

Sure, you may have thought you already knew everything there was to know about Germany and the Germans. After all, every school kid knows that Germany is the land of circulatory disorders, Turkish döner kebab, naked sledding competitions and David Hasselhoff. But Germany is more than that. Much more. Did you know, for example, that Germans invented the Volkswagen, brew several types of beer and were actively involved in World War II? No, of course you can’t be expected to know everything. That is why I have gone to the great trouble of putting an enormous amount of my precious time into compiling a work of relevant and irrelevant contemporary and sociohistorical Betrachtungen (observations) that will hopefully fill in some of the appalling gaps of knowledge you appear to have. This stupendously Supergeil (totally awesome) seminal study will thrill you with its perplexed ranting, baffled raving and crude and undifferentiated commentary, all presented to you by an accomplished Deutschland expert with over thirty years of active experience in the field. I can only hope that you will enjoy reading this book half as much as I enjoyed getting all of this pent-up frustration off my chest. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. What you see is what you get. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. You can't judge a book by its cover. Though perhaps this time you can.

German literary critics all agree!

"Schwachsinn. Unfug. Blödsinn. Mist."

-Ostfriesischer Rundschau

"Das ist ja der größte Unsinn, den ich jemals gelesen habe! Wer schreibt so ein Scheiß?"

-Gifhorner Volksstimme

"Der Typ scheint jeglichen Bezug zur Realität verloren zu haben."

-Luckenwalder Tagespost

1. The German language. Don’t even go there. Forget about it.

2. But if you absolutely positively insist on learning German, be warned that it is a very precise language. If your hair were to be on fire, for example, and you were to ask a German Don’t you think it's hot in here? he would answer No. If, on the other hand, you were to say Damn, it’s hot in here. Why do you think that is? he would explain to you that your hair is on fire. This is why you should never ask a German How are you doing? He will actually tell you.

3. Oktoberfest is celebrated in September.

4. Germans are generally very honest and direct, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, Germans are also generally very honest and direct, which is a bad thing.

5. Young adults in Germany have never known a chancellor other than Angela Merkel. She has been in office since 2005.

6. Most German neighborhoods I have ever lived in have at least one Turkish döner kebab takeaway, two funeral homes, three driving schools, four hair salons and five pharmacies.

7. Germans clearly have split personality issues. Although always moaning about how they did everything wrong in the past, for example, they regularly complain about things not being like they used to be.

8. Only in Germany can you have a popular reality television show called "Goodbye Deutschland" in which German viewers celebrate other Germans who are fed up with Germany and leaving the country in disgust.

9. If there were only two Germans left on earth they would take turns clearing away the dishes from the dinner table before the other one has finished eating.

10. Germans have more words for taxation than Eskimos have for snow.

11. Germans don’t like surprises. That is probably why they have insurance for practically anything you can imagine. It’s crazy. They not only have vacation insurance, for example, they also have what-if-I-decide-to-cancel-my-vacation insurance. They have insurance for their insurance, you see. And if you were to ever tell a German that you didn't have any Rechtschutzversicherung (legal costs insurance) they would gasp for breath and look at you like you just beamed down from Mars.

12. Germany is a place where Germans caught without a subway pass on the train are publicly shamed and heavily fined while non-Germans caught sneaking over the Austrian border without passports are welcomed with open arms.

13. You can get beer at McDonald's here. This gives the Happy Meal a whole new dimension.

14. One of the best-known kids TV characters is a depressed loaf of bread named Bernd.

15. Germany is a place where huge underground bombs are routinely unearthed all around the country and this barely even makes second page news. In fact, most Germans directly affected are more annoyed about it than anything else. They grudgingly leave their homes until the bomb crews have disarmed or detonated the damned things. Over 5,000 bombs are found in Germany every year.

16. Suggesting to Germans that they introduce a general speed limit on German autobahns for the sake of highway safety would be like suggesting to Americans that they give up their weapons for the sake of firearm safety. Driving at ridiculously crazy speed on the autobahn is one of the few freedoms Germans have left and they won’t let the government pry it away from their cold, white-knuckled hands.

17. Germans have a thing with windows. A real German is a faithful practitioner of Stoßlüftung (inrush airing). This is when somebody rips open several windows to let fresh, preferably ice-cold arctic air into what had previously been your warm and cozy apartment or office. When it comes to leaving these windows open for longer periods of time, however, Germans are clearly divided into two distinct ideological groups. The first is the shut the window right this minute because there's a draft faction (Germans are terrified of drafts). The second is the leave the window open because it smells like a hamster cage here faction. Sadly, these ideologues appear to be equally distributed in homes and offices throughout the nation so conflict is vorprogrammiert (preprogramed or inevitable).

18. Bitte does not just mean please here. It also means you’re welcome, you go first, not at all, pardon? and are you kidding me? It all depends. So, bitte.

19. Germany is a place where dog owners will actually get angry and chew out the person their dogs just tried to bite. This is normally someone who did absolutely nothing to provoke the mutt, too. I've seen this happen way too often to be convinced otherwise.

20. Keep moving along. No threatening symbolism here. Weiberfastnacht (women's carnival night), the Thursday before the Carnival’s big parade on Rose Monday, is when women go around with scissors cutting off men's ties with impunity.

21. A real German would never dream of just splitting the restaurant bill 50-50. Here one’s share is calculated down to the penny.

22. One of the eeriest places you can be in Germany is in a large corporate headquarters building around one or two on a Friday afternoon. It's almost as if you were the only person left in the place. This is because you most likely are.

23. An unfurnished apartment in Germany is a completely unfurnished apartment. No stove, no refrigerator, no kitchen cabinets, no nothing. Sometimes there isn’t even a toilet. Germans don’t like doing things half-way so if unfurnished is what you ordered, unfurnished is what you get.

24. Germans are brought up to distrust their German instincts and fear acting on their own German self-interest. Therefore they tend to question the real motivation of those less distrustful and fearful than themselves, many of whom seem to be enjoying successful and neurosis-free lives. Da stimmt was nicht (there’s something wrong there), these distrustful Germans think.

25. Which brings us to a related oddity. When Americans refer to something as being typically American they generally mean this in a positive way. When Germans refer

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