Hi guys, this is a post independent from my book. I hope you’ll like it:
Am I too German???
I have actually been told, as far as I remember, twice in my life that I was – by a Swiss guy in Switzerland and by an Italian guy in England. Only that I hadn’t really believed it. Well, I hadn’t really cared about it; about what it means to be too German.
Honestly, I hadn’t even been 100% aware of what it could have meant when I was, apparently, being too German.
Now what does it mean then – being German?
Frankly, I always believed it means being normal. Having grown up in Germany and been living in different places in the country – north and south – has naturally made me think that German culture and behavior were totally normal. And right.
Yesterday, I only realized by chance that the annual Eurovision Song Contest had happened as I saw the news about the Portuguese winner flowing in on Twitter. I opened my internet explorer to look at a German news page and what did I see: Germany landed second – from the BOTTOM!
My native country got 6 tiny points and I wasn’t even bothered about which nations had spared them. The headline of the German news website said: “Are we too harsh? Maybe that’s why we have no friends.”
However, is everything that means being German just strict, harsh and according to the rules??
Yes, Germans do like rules and following them. They don’t like it when there is no plan but only chaos. My relationship can definitely confirm this: My English boyfriend likes to go with the flow and when he says “I don’t know” or “I haven’t thought about it” after me having asked him what our plans are, then he is absolutely able to drive me mad!
Last night, as I was in bed, my attention was drawn by some noise that was coming from behind the house. I looked through the window and was ‘forced’ to observe our Canadian neighbors, at 12:38AM(!), as they were spraying and brushing their terrace with water, scraping a shovel over their wooden floor and chatting to each other at a high volume. Wife and husband didn’t care about anybody else being around, possibly sleeping, and she even dared to throw her fag over the fence into our garden – not in HERS!
I could only shake my head and start laughing to myself. Because I knew that, even if I had asked other neighbors, or our landlord, if that was normal behavior here in Canada, they might have said yes and laughed at me.
“Soyez tolerants” is the motto here in Québec.
When I told our landlord, last summer, that I was quite disturbed by the permanent smell of drugs coming into my window, he told me that things had already improved as his dog wouldn’t be getting stoned anymore as the neighbors had, at last, stopped throwing their marijuana fag-ends over into his garden. The dog was now able to chase the cats again.
So, what was I complaining about!!??
I know, I should be happy enough about our neighbors stopping work and switching off their electric saw and other tools by 2am – It’s far better than 3!
The landlord also told us that there was no problem when we had mice in the kitchen and that it was our fault if we left food remains around. We weren’t tolerant enough, apparently, when we asked him to do something about it; and who knows what he told all the other tenants of his as they had mice, too!? “It’s not true!” he said to them, and when I showed him the little video (I might actually publish that one here on my blog) of a baby mouse showing up from inside a hotplate of our cooker, he was rather amused and asked: “Oh, can you email that to me, I’ll publish it on YouTube.”
In Germany, one doesn’t make noise at 2 o’clock in the night in one’s garden. In Germany, one doesn’t make noise even at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in one’s garden. Between 1 and 3pm it’s ‘Mittagszeit’, meaning one doesn’t disturb neighbors who might be taking a siesta. One doesn’t even call somebody’s house or cell phone – for the same reason. And, in Germany, Sundays are still real Sundays.
So is it bad to be German? Does it mean I am too strict and harsh in terms of my attitude to life?
Well, it seems to depend on whom I am facing. In England, that Italian guy – a then flat mate – told me I was too German when I didn’t let him into my room as he kept asking me for sex. He clearly wanted to insult me with his comment.
In Switzerland, one other Italian complimented me, once, as I was cheering and hugging him when Germany had just scored a goal in a match during the soccer World Cup. He said: “Nice how you are able to celebrate – like a real Southern European!”
For crying out loud!! Do Southern Europeans think that a German doesn’t celebrate, cheer or party!!??
A then Swiss colleague, when I was doing research in Zurich, also said to me “You are too German”. He was almost offended with me that I had just come into his lab, started chattering and promptly came out with an urgent question I had had on my mind. He taught me that I first needed to knock on his door and make him aware that I was there. Then I needed to wait for his recognition and answer for me to come in. Then I would have needed to let him know that I have a question before actually asking it. “You are just too German this way!” he told me.
And there we go, being German is never right, it seems… !