Amid the festivities of the night before, I was asked what would make a good ‘typical German’ gift to some Czech friends. As a foreigner, it makes sense that I should know these things (of course! you say..). This question, however, immediately brought to mind our discussions in the German language course. What do people think of when they think of Germany? Well..
Germans are punctual, hard-working, serious folk.
Yeah right. Punctual? Consider yourself lucky if your train makes it to the station and leaves on time. And just say to yourself, “At least it wasn’t postponed till the next day,” when you skip a class to sign your apartment lease at 2pm, but don’t manage to get that far till 8. Hard-working? German shops are closed on Sundays, ostensibly to allow people to go to church (uh-huh, who goes to church on Sundays?), but really to protect those lower-class gals from having to work longer hours for crummy pay, since the shops aren’t going to take on extra hands. Serious folk? Well I guess I won’t comment on that. I’m still hoping the running joke in Germany about Belgians who horde children in caves, molest them, and leave them for dead, will die down at some point in our household.
So what has stuck? Recycling (which has become a big thing for us in view of the impending arrival of Tobi, the green voter), crossing the street on a red light, and…I have to say it…Wurst, Cheese, Bread, and Beer. I still remember scouring the streets for a head of broccoli, and finally coming across some limp, sad thing. But there is also.. Angela Merkel, kaffee and kuchen on Sundays, that nice lady outside the bakery who came to us three times to help us find what we were looking for…
Not to mention the fact that I am slowly becoming a savvy shopper. I now know that the best heads of lettuce are found ‘underground’ in the subterranean halles below the hauptstraße. No longer will I balk at a 22E clothes hanger, but will go directly to C&A and ask for a handful of the loads they throw away every day. And finally, there’s beer, but then there’s also Caipirinha.