- It’s hard to find stores open evenings and Sundays, and getting last-minute shopping done on Saturday mornings is so stressful.
- The faith in authority, or in Ordnung: Germans will remain standing at a red pedestrian signal even at three AM when there’s no traffic. And you'll probably get yelled at if you try to cross against the light.
- They only talk to strangers to warn or to scold--for not sorting recyclables, for wasting photocopier toner by not using that L-shaped plastic thing around the edges of the original, for disobeying pedestrian traffic lights.
- They often seem to think they have penetrating insights into black-white relations in the U.S.
- They keep answering you in English, even if your German is just fine.
- They have a relaxed attitude to their bodies and all bodily functions. They go naked often and gladly: in the park, on the beach, in the sauna, everywhere.
- They even eat pizza with knife and fork.
- They regard their abrupt manner as an expression of sincerity; to Americans it can come off as pushy.
- The ubiquitous cigarette smoking is so outdated; the rampant smoke clouds stand in stark contrast to their otherwise pronounced environmental consciousness.
- Grimm’s Fairy Tales are way too frightening for children.
In honor of German-American Day – Oct. 6 – I’m posting my translation/paraphrase of selections from a list of 50 in the paper Die Zeit. Next week, I’ll reciprocate with German observations on American oddities. “No thin skin,” as a German instructor of mine, a nice and energetic Swiss lady in her 70s, used to say.
Musical & Literary Wanderings of a Galloping Gypsy
Mark Eliot Nuckols is a travel writer from Silver Beach Virginia who is also a musician and teacher.