Monday, February 23, 2015

Situations in Germany that make me frustrated

Living in a foreign country as an expat requires a certain level of adjustment. One must deal with different social norms and a new language. Sometimes it's not so difficult but at other times, one might experience frustrations.

I really enjoy living in Germany and constantly try to learn more about its language, customs, and daily life. However, there are certain things that have happened either to me or that I've seen that aren't so great. Let me be clear that these things don't happen all the time and that not everyone here acts like this but when they do, I admit: I get frustrated.

1. People waiting for a bus or train rush the doors as soon as they open and before the departing passengers can even disembark. They push and shove. It's ridiculous and would go so much more quickly if people weren't so impatient.

2. One time, I was in a super thick crowd of people at a festival. We were in a bottle neck and some dude with a huge belly behind me kept coming closer until he was shoving his gut into my back. Nope, dude, it won't make me walk any faster since there is nowhere to go.

What had me seeing red, though, was when people in the crowd were also pushing into a disabled person. They could have severely hurt that person had he fallen. I have also seen people shove past elderly citizens. To say I was ticked off would be an understatement. What the heck is wrong with people?!

3. People don't "do" lines so well here. It's often a big crowd of people in bunches and people rush up without waiting their turn. I've learned to stand with my hands casually placed on my hips. This sets up a bit of a barrier that says, why yes, I am indeed next in line and it is not nice of you to try to shove past me. I've also been pushed in the heels (purposefully) with a shopping cart from another customer while in line. There was nowhere for me to move farther ahead. Another time, apparently an elderly lady wanted to get past me. Instead of saying "excuse me" or tapping me on the shoulder, she grabbed me by the hips and threw me aside!

4. When I am concentrating on something, whether it's at the store, the art museum, or in front of a sign, I stand out of the way so I don't impede traffic or other patrons. The next thing I know, I have someone standing practically on top of me, trying to look at the same exact gosh darned thing. The person couldn't have waited a few seconds until I was done? Was the person even interested in the thing before I was looking at it? I won't lie: on a particularly frustrated day, I've put the thing down, sighed, and walked away.

I can understand that it's busy in grocery stores and there isn't always a lot of room to look at things. However, I was once in the middle of examining a painting in a gallery that housed twenty other paintings. The gallery was otherwise empty. Someone walked in and instead of looking at any of the twenty other paintings, stood on my heels and breathed over my shoulder. It completely blew my mind.

5. When it takes forever to pay at a restaurant. Yes, I know that restaurant food takes longer to prepare because it's not fast food, yada yada. I'm talking about the actual act of paying. It generally takes anywhere from 10-30 minutes to receive and pay the bill after asking for it. I kid you not; this has happened at many different restaurants, with different price points, and different levels of being busy (from us being the only customers to the restaurant being full). Does anyone know why on earth this is? I'm to the point now, if I have limited time, that I ask the waiter for the bill when he brings the food.

6. Customer service in general. I hope for mediocre to average service. However, I've had some really bad service, too. For example, I was asking for help at the Deutsche Bahn counter. The guy shrugged his shoulders and said he couldn't help with the situation. Not his problem. He didn't offer any alternatives. Grrreat.

Another time, I called Kabel Deutschland and needed help. I didn't know enough German at the time and asked if it was possible to speak with someone in English. Nope, they didn't have anyone there who could speak English to help a customer. I raised my eyebrows at that one (no one? really?). Okay, fair enough, whatever, it's a German company.

Imagine my surprise when I received a telemarketing call from KD and I told the lady I didn't speak German. She flawlessly switched to English to try to sell me tv service. I asked her to take me off the list and never call again. Why would I want tv service from a company that's willing to sell me the service using English, but if I had problems, they wouldn't help me in English? Fair is fair, after all.

7. People not cleaning up after their dogs, or...people who bag up the droppings and then chuck it under  a tree. At least it's not as bad as it is in Paris, but still! Clean up after your darn dogs. I'd love to follow these people to their homes with a pooper scooper and deposit the "deposits" on their lawn/sidewalk and say, "oh, you forgot this, so I brought it for you." Okay, I wouldn't actually do that, but it's tempting!


  1. I've noticed many of these things too, and been taken aback by them. Different cultural norms for sure. I do have to comment on the dog poo thing - when people are walking a dog and will come back the same way, it is common practice to leave the bag and pick it up on the way back. I don't know that this is what you are seeing, but it may be the case. Love your blog btw.

  2. Hmm, unless the person plans to pick up the bagged poo two weeks later, I'm not seeing this to be the case. It's so weird; they bag it up and drop it on a little traffic island with a tree. Why not just leave it in its natural state then? Argh. I know that in a few towns bordering this area, they're starting to actively threaten people with fines of up to 5,000 euros for leaving dog droppings behind. I don't imagine they would fine them that much but it sure drives the point home!

    To be fair, people in the US can be really bad about picking up dog droppings too.