As always, I must begin this post by saying life in Germany is awesome, and moving here was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I love the cities, the culture and the people. Especially the people. They’re so unintentionally hilarious, it just kills me. I have, however, discovered a few harsh realities about life in this fine country.
#6: Germans have an irrational fear of all things cold.
Now, I’m going to have to generalize a lot on this one, but I have noticed the average German person, young or old, tends to shy away from anything cold. (And by shy away, I mean wince like a bitch and then complain about it endlessly.) Cold drafts, cold floors, cold chairs — hell, anything which isn’t warm to the touch and slathered in pork products — is apparently the cause of all disease and human suffering in this country.
Sitting on a cold floor? Surefire way to contract a urinary tract infection. Back of your shirt untucked and exposed to a cold breeze? 100% chance of kidney failure. But then, at the same time, they love their fresh air, and will leave their windows open in the dead of winter to receive that sweet, cleansing breeze. It’s downright baffling.
Man, for such a logical, science and engineering oriented society, you wouldn’t think they’d be so prone to superstition, but oh no: Point an oscillating fan at your brother-in-law during one of the hottest summer evenings on record, and not only will he not thank you for it, he will ask you to turn it off and then look at you like you just tried to hose him down with frozen AIDS-filled cancer gas.
#5: You have to pay to listen to the radio.
I don’t know if this is just a Lower Saxony thing, but I’m dead serious: If you move to Germany, eventually you will get a bill in the mail for basic radio and network TV services — whether you use them or not. Now, if you don’t use either — and you can prove it — you can go ahead and type up a formal letter to get yourself excused. But what are the chances you’re rocking the Amish lifestyle in Germany?
For Americans like me, this is appalling. Holy shit, it’s like having to pay someone for the privilege of blue sky above your head or breathable air in your lungs — you just don’t do that. And yet every month, we cough up the money and pay our bill. (To be fair, my German wife also thinks this is completely retarded, but we do it anyway because we’re pussies.)
#4: Online banking is maddeningly complicated.
If you open a bank account in Germany, you will quickly discover an online financial experience about as smooth as a sandpaper handjob. See, in the States, when you want to pay a bill using your checking account, you just enter your card number, punch the Submit button and go back to that violent pornography you were just watching. But in Germany, you have to make an Überweisung; a hellish bank transfer with so many security precautions you might as well just slam your fingers in a car door now and get the pain out of the way first.
These bank transfers require you to enter the recipient company’s name, a 22-digit IBAN number, an 11-character BIC code, the exact euro amount to be paid, and then a bunch of notes regarding the date and other details about the transaction. Once this is done, you then have to find your bank card, stick it into a TAN-Generator, then use this apparatus to physically scan the flashing bar code on your computer screen. If successful, this will produce a pin number, which you then enter into your bank’s webpage in order to complete the transaction. Now, you’d think this security system would be tighter than Fort Knox, but it’s been hacked with the exact same frequency as any bank in the States. So all this pain and suffering is for nothing! Absolutely nothing! Welcome to Germany!
#3: Unofficial rules and regulations run rampant.
In Germany, there are lots of neighborhood rules, especially in small towns and suburbs. Here are just a few:
- Absolutely no mowing your yard on Sundays or holidays, or on weekdays between 1:00pm and 3:00pm. (This goes for any electrical appliances which are loud enough to wake the curmudgeonly old bastards napping next door.)
- BBQ grilling may not be done at all on the patios of apartments with neighbors above them. For houses, BBQ grilling should be kept to a minimum, and never within stink-distance of your neighbors.
- You are expected to keep the sidewalk in front of your house clear at all times — including raking leaves and shoveling snow — because if you don’t, and some halfwit eats shit on the ice in front of your pad, you’re the one who gets to pay for his ambulance ride.
In short, there are rules for everything in Germany, and you’re gonna have to follow them unless you have a strong capacity for both formal and informal complaints. (And do you really want to be that one American cock mowing his yard with a BBQ chicken wing in his mouth and a pending lawsuit in his mailbox?)
#2: You cannot send a letter from your own mailbox.
Speaking of mailboxes, you can only receive mail at your home — you can’t send anything unless you go to the post office or find an official mailbox on the street. Oh sure, some nice postal employee may take your letter to Grandma back with him to the distribution office as a one-time favor, but it’s unlikely. Most of the time, they’ll just ignore it and leave you to confusedly check online for the current postage rates and mistakenly assume you can solve this problem by just slapping another stamp on that bitch and calling it a day.
Oh, and if you’re an expat like me — even if you have your residence permit which very clearly proves you have a valid passport somewhere at home — you cannot pick up a package at the post office without showing them your actual passport. This means you have to haul around the single most valuable piece of identification you own just so you can pick up your Black Stallion from the Dildo-of-the-Month club.
#1: Germans walk as if wearing blinders.
Now this one is a BIG ol’ sweeping generalization — and I know for a fact there are exceptions — but for the most part, German people walk around like they’re the only motherfuckers on this planet. Like there couldn’t possibly be anyone else walking directly behind them. Seriously, they will stop dead right in front of you at the end of an escalator just to stare blankly into a store window full of artisanal soaps.
They will also cut you off or step in front of you from the side without the slightest hesitation, even if you’re carrying like 10 adopted babies in your arms. They don’t mean to be rude; they just don’t see you. It isn’t personal. It’s some kind of strange mental focus — some kind of single-minded, goal-oriented intent — which causes them not to pay much heed to the human traffic around them.
Sometimes I imagine actually confronting one of these tunnel vision nerds, and I imagine the conversation going something like this:
ME: “Excuse me, but you just stepped right in front of me and then stopped.”
GERMAN: “Yes, because I had to go there.”
ME: “But I had the right of way! I was already walking there!”
GERMAN: *Speaking to me as if I’m retarded* “Yes, and I had to go there.”
ME: “OH MY GOD, THE NEXT GERMAN TO STEP IN FRONT OF ME IS GETTING KICKED RIGHT IN THE HEMORRHOIDS.”
So that’s my latest list of gripes! But seriously, if you ever get the chance to move to Germany, go for it. These people rock. For being unintentionally hilarious and just all-around awesome, I award Germans a solid 5 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:
But before you move here, you should also check out my previous 3 posts regarding things that suck about living in Germany.
Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!