one day at a time

day 62: where does it all end

where does it all end  © Verena Fischer 2011

where does it all end © Verena Fischer 2011

The other day I had a conversation with Ezequiel about cultural stereotypes. Germans for example always know how things are supposed to be and feel entitled to have an opinion on just about anything. I immediately remembered one of the questions from the driving theory test for which I was studying that day:

“There is a traffic jam and through your side mirror you see a motor bike illegally passing through the gap between the cars. What do you do?

a) Don’t let him pass.
b) Let him through.
c) Honk and note his licence plate number.”

Option a and c reflect German stereotypes and b is the correct option. Which reminds me of my driving lesson yesterday. Someone drove out into the street right in front of me and stopped to park their car. I would have just changed lanes and gone past, although I admit that it was a bit annoying. However, my driving instructor told me to stop right behind that car so that the driver would not be able to park there. My instructor already stepped on the breaks before I could object. Then he started lecturing me on how inconsiderate people drive here and how this is the reason why traffic is such a nightmare in Berlin. “And these people think that if they just drive out into the street without looking properly that they’ll get to their destination more quickly. Well, the driver in front of us now has to wait even longer. That’s how you deal with such people”.

Sometimes I think that only in Germany people feel they have the right to tell people how to do things. I’ve never encountered this kind of behaviour anywhere else and Ezequiel neither.

Our conversation also led us to my old Swedish flatmate Robin back when I was living on campus at the University of Sussex. One day Robin knocked on my door. He asked me “Hey, tell me, are you very German?” I was baffled! What a question to ask out of nothing! I said “No, why?!” and he said “Oh, I was just wondering whether you had a hole-puncher”! I pulled a face, mainly because … well, I had one of these things. They say Germans are very organised. They have things like hole-punchers and staplers and stuff like that. I had a hole-puncher, but only because someone gave it to me! I think that hole-puncher was out of the ominous box in Kent House where people just left stuff that they didn’t need anymore. Someone must have assumed that a German girl like me can use a hole-puncher at some point. I didn’t even use it once. After all I didn’t even use any paper as a computer science student! Nevertheless I was stuck with the “very German” label immediately.

Yesterday’s picture was taken at the Spree Bogen which is where the Bundesministerium des Innern (Federal Ministry of the Interior) is located. A cobbled street, shadows from low golden hour sunlight and reflections in the wall and the window. No wonder that I like it a lot!

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5 responses

  1. the ‘are you very german’ bit is funny. enjoyed reading it :)

    October 14, 2011 at 12:22 am

  2. Madelaine

    Well, if it makes you feel any better, I have a hole puncher and I’m not German! ;)

    October 14, 2011 at 12:43 am

  3. I too have a hole puncher and am not German.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:46 am

  4. As always you come up with wonderful pictures out of almost nothing. You really have a great eye for details and daily life. What really makes the picture for me – besides the beautiful lighting of the cobble stones – is the weird reflection on the upper right side. It almost makes the cobble stones float in the air.

    As to driving. Yes, you are right about Germans, but I’ll take German way of driving over American way, any time (being in the States right now as I am)…

    October 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm

  5. Love the ‘rant’ about exactly HOW German you are. LOL
    I worked here in Canada for VW for MANY years and in the early years there were predominantly Germans that were mechanics so I got a HUGE dose of German.
    I know, or used to at any rate, several very vile words in German and was fluently capable of swearing like a pro!
    I love this picture…..live in a VERY small town and never see cobbled streets and i just love them and the shiny reflecting wall on the right…WOW!….adds a lot!
    P.S. I don’t have a hole puncher but now I know where I can borrow one.
    I think the thing I find most interesting about the German language is the HUGE words that combine several word/concepts into one…..similar to Japanese.
    There are MANY elements of German in English but our language is function only.

    October 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm

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