Even though I knew Germans love order and rules, I´ve never imagined some of them are really obsessed about them, Germans love efficiency, you can see it in every way they act, they eat, they sleep, they enjoy themselves…
Some 5 years ago, I read in a very interesting novel by Tod Wodicka (All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well) something about the German people and their immaculate, maniacal way of decorating their gardens, manias of flowers, garden gnomes, ceramic animals, everything so neatly, millimetrically arranged, but really, I wasn´t prepared for what I found…
Emphasizing: even though I knew Germans love order and rules, I´ve never imagined some of them are really obsessed about them, and me being a messy Latina trying to blend into a German orderly world has been quite curious, from people laughing at me when I didn´t know the noun of the object they were trying to sell me, to ask for my passport when I went to the post office to retrieve a package.
After a whole year living with the citizens, I´ve collected enough information to make my own “Surviving The Germans” hand booklet.
First of all, obey rules; all these you know and specially those you don´t, in case of doubt, better don´t try it…
Of course that meant that I waited some good four months before I ventured into the forest behind my home, or that I waited a couple of weeks before I dared myself to meet my local store, seven or eight blocks away, and I felt a bit like some amazon Indian hazarding for the first time into the civilized world, sometimes I even expected to see some feathery arrows and a bow in my hand.
Second, order and tidiness. All right, after picking some groceries (the local hobby for seniors), I lined into the nearest queue, there I saw Germans perform a wonderful choreography that would make Henry Ford, or Porsche in this case quite proud of it:
Germans love efficiency, you can see it in every way they act, they eat, they sleep, they enjoy themselves (I’ll write about it another day, promise). Anyway, they love their routine of greeting the customer/cashier, scanning half a dozen goods – mostly beer and sausages –, exchanging some cash for a ticket, saying goodbye, leaving and repeating. It´s really some sort of assembly line where everyone works flowing with the rhythm; so, can you imagine can do a newbie Mexican girl with more than a dozen products to their perfect mass production performance? Yes! I did it!
I can´t recall how much did it cost, but I remember the exasperated face of the cashier – Germans lack of patience –, then she looked at the coins on my hand and started counting them loud on it as if I was five years old, and she took the necessary amount of euros and cents and leaving the rest on my open palm; meanwhile everyone waited impatiently for me to pack my groceries in my backpack, so they could start their assembly line ballet all over again.
There´s always something good out of every experience, from that day on, I’ve rehearsed the steps, mentally counting the goods and the cost, preparing the bills, customer card –when I don´t leave it home–, receive change, toss everything in my cart, run for my life, I’m efficient!
Still, I haven´t finished my Germanizing course, even my rented home façade doesn´t look quite German; of course al duplex homes are built equally, but those around me have always perfectly mowed lawns, their flowers neatly arranged, even little ponds and fountains; in addition some fanciful seasonal decoration so you can see how they love their flowery spring, bunny Easter, golden hedgehogy autumn, scary Halloween or Christmassy lights with tons of Advent wreaths. All Garden-Weekly material. Mine, well, mine is only three lopsided bushes at the main gate and four at the backyard, end of it. No seasonal decorations.
Anyway, lately no angry neighbor has asked us again our passports because we look foreign and suspicious, so I think we are coping up fairly well!
By the way, it´s snowing, the guys next door have already swept two times their entry path, we only one, so they did ours again, oops! Perhaps in an hour we´ll have to clean it again, and so on, and on; all in the name of peaceful living without grumpy stares.
Someone even shoveled the snow in the parking lot to mark their car spots, funny chaps!
Got to go, neighbors are sweeping my front door again!