Wednesday, August 15, 2007

German Quirks

It was at 10:30p tonight as the Dixie Chicks documentary - Shut Up & Sing - came to an end, that I realized I need to jot down the funny things Germans do or maybe the right things they do that I need to acquire.

*As the credits began to roll at the end of the flick, I grabbed my bag, slipped on my shoes, and was ready to pop out of my chair. And with a near push out of my seat, I looked around. I was not going to be going anywhere. Not one person in the audience stirred. I settled back down and silently we all sat there, watching the black screen with illuminated names roll out. Getting a little stir crazy, I asked my seat mate - Why? His response - Respect. It is out of respect for all the actors, not just the stars, to sit and give them the credit they deserve. So I kicked off my shoes, got comfy, and became mesmerized by the ensuing names.

*Stoplights. This I find ingenious and is beneficial to both drivers and cyclists. When a light changes from green to red it does the standard. It shifts from green, to yellow, to red. However, it is the reverse that just dazzles me. At a red light, we all sit there - drivers with a heavy foot on the break and cyclists leaning with a foot on the ground. Now we all have to be somewhere and want to gun it when that light changes green. Well the Germans give you a little warning before you have to throw it into gear. The light changes from red, to red & yellow, to green. I absolutely love it. I feel as if the light gods are giving me a head start to get my foot on the pedal and bike away like a mad woman when it officially turns green.

*Grocery Shopping. In Germany it is quite a nervous feat. The cash register has become my nemisis. They do not have any baggers and well for that matter any plastic or paper bags. I start prepping myself while standing in line. I grab a wad of cash in my left hand and with my right, I sort through my purse to create some room for my soon to be purchased goods. It is a juggling act once your section of food hits the front of the belt. With super speed and quite a hefty push, the cash register woman moves your food to the packing area. I run to that side and start frantically throwing all the goods into my purse. As I am arranging and putting the remaining products into my bag, I can hear the cash register woman and the ensuing line tapping their feet. Once again, I am too slow. I leap back in front and throw my wad of foreign cash at the woman. She gives me a handful of change back. I stuff my wallet in my mouth, grab my purse of goods in my right hand, and ginergly walk away as to not offset my left hand with the mound of change.

*Lights. Every evening I walk into my apartment building it is pitch black. There is not a single light on. Instead you can see a little illuminating dot in the hallway. You can push this and boom the hallway is bright. However, you only have 30seconds to juggle your keys, find the right one, and quickly open up the door...or are standing in complete darkness. Once inside, there is another red dot that you can push to turn on the light to the stairwell. This again is on a time sensor. Sometimes I make it to the 4th floor with brightness and sometimes I walk up in sheer darkness. I kind of enjoy the blind game. I know it is 18 steps before I reach the next floor and need to make a right turn. By the forth right turn, I know to reach out my left handle, find the doornob, and three fingers up is the dead bolt lock.