No Reservation

November 15, 2011

Standing in wait. People everywhere. All frantically look around suspiciously at each other. Palms begin to sweat. Glistening beads of perspiration form at the brow. Eyes dart to and fro. The heart begins to beat anxiously in the chest. Restless legs attempt to stay in place. Strategies begin to form. “How can I beat them?”

Then you see it. It’s approaching. People begin to herd closer together with all their luggage. Elbows begin to be used for their evolutionary intent – knocking people out of the way. This makes boarding Southwest Airlines look like tea time. Then it is noticed that that train that is approaching is already full! Sheer panic begins to break out, though not outwardly. The Germans are much too refined for that. It’s an inward panic that begins to sweep the crowd. “There aren’t enough seats. I paid a lot of money for this ticket. I want a seat.”

The train stops at the platform. Now the real pushing and shoving begins. People with enough luggage to clothe a small country shove their way forward. The poor disembarking passengers fight their way through the chaos. The waiting-to-board passengers hold a collective breath until that final passenger disembarks.

Finally, the last passenger is off. And all hell breaks loose.

Cute little grandma is shoving and cussing. Mothers throw their small children head first onto the train directing them to scramble through legs to find open seats. Italian tourists yell really loudly in Italian, gesturing with gusto in different directions, but then you realize that has nothing to do with boarding. It’s just what Italians do. The French join the stampede because the French don’t ever stand in line. The Spaniards join because they think the bulls are coming. And the Americans stand around looking perplexed because they don’t know how to ride a train and, naturally, don’t speak the language. (You can always pick them out. White running shoes on a fat person).

You get caught up in the crowd, being shoved from every direction. And then you make it. You get on the train. And you see that open seat. But so does that person coming towards you. You are equi-distant from the seat. Who gets to have it?

Depends on who you are. The Germans make an all out dash and pretend they don’t see the other person. Survival of the fittest. The French follow suit. The Italians are too busy yelling to notice there was an empty seat. The Spaniards – well, I’m not sure what they think, and the Americans have just realized that the door to the train is open and perhaps that is an invitation to get on. Upon realizing there are no seats left, they begin to complain loudly.

Welcome to the Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) without a reservation.

Disclaimer: the author has been known to use hyperbole when sharing her stories. Please consider much of her posts to be tongue in cheek.

Dirty Windows

November 14, 2011


Look at these pictures. Do you see anything particular about them?

I didn’t either. But…

Germans are very particular about their windows. Well, they’re particular about a lot of things in their lives, but next to the condition of the air and always having a kleenex available at a moment’s notice, the Germans are inordinately preoccupied with the cleanliness of their windows.

A German friend came home and within the first 36 hours of being home mentioned how dirty the windows were at least 4 times. Um, really? It’s not like they’re are covered in mud or something. But in all the years I’ve lived here, there is an unhealthy preoccupation with the windows.

She even told me that her neighbors probably gossip about how dirty her windows are. I told her that 4 of my windows got lucky in the Spring when I decided to clean them. The rest? Well, like most American windows, haven’t been touched since the house was built.

Now if you Germans had screens, perhaps your windows wouldn’t get so dirty, eh?

Schlechte Luft

November 3, 2011

I told you people that the Germans were way too preoccupied with the condition of the air.

I’m with a German friend and within 10 minutes, what is said?

“Oh! It stinks everywhere! The air is so bad! (schlechte Luft) We need to open the windows!”

Point made. I lie not.