day 62: where does it all end
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!