American in Germany Georg Behrendt details his experiences of living in Germany in this fourth part of his series on moving to Germany. He looks at the German way of thinking, restaurants, service and environmentally friendliness.
When in Germany, remember that this is a country different from America; it has its own thoughts, feelings and emotions. Germany just like the States has its great deficiencies and screw-ups. Never get frustrated, have patience and learn; you will be the better off for it. Moreover, try not to become one of those people that constantly say ‘Well back in the States it is better because…’ I too would then tell you to go back home.
I re-read this and now I have to pre-empt this section. What I write is true and factual. However, the negatives I mention are pointed to the 50+ populace and the populace that have not experienced anything other than Germany. The experienced German traveller understands manners and politeness.
German mentality or way of thinking I have come across within the last two plus years. You may want to be aware of and consider it while living here. Do not be offended or insulted, just deal with it with understanding.
Germans will be the first to tell you why something cannot be done or happen. They think straight ahead and do not consider a little to the left or right of a condition. In other words, they are very structured and not flexible. But if you make the time you might be able to show them a better way or more proficient way to do things.
I must add to these seemingly adverse comments of mine, that there are also many Germans who will help you at no charge once they get to know who you are…..most of these particular Germans have spent much time in the States or Canada. One man lent me a EUR 40,000.00-euro machine to work with my product. He said use it until I can sell it… it will make your life easier. It has been close to a year now and we are still using it…thanks to him.
Another thing is that I find most Germans tend to be extremely private in nature. They do not want to talk about the money they have or make. On the other hand, they want to know all about you. So the quickest way to shut down that double standard is to ask them about their salary or what their property is worth. Then, and only then, do they get the clue that double standards do not work with Americans.
Most Germans do not like to be shown a different or better way to do a project. They tend to block any changes, ideas, or alterations to the current thinking. This is partly because they have to keep people working and not machines and the other reason is the same old concept as we have in the older people in the States: It has been this way for the last 80 years so why should we change now.
German women:I will not even try to go there because I will be killed. Trust me though, they are unique and not always in a good way.
Germans in general tend to be rude (older generation and country people). They will walk in front of you, bump into you, step on your foot and look at you as if it was your fault.
Drinking and eating
Germans are great drinkers and can handle beers much better than Americans or Canadians. Yes, the beer is beer and not coloured water as in the Can-Am area of this world.
There are many restaurants in Germany just like, if not more, per capita in the States. Germans love to eat and drink. However, not to worry, most Americans are still fatter than the average German. Germans seem to love to eat. I find that Americans eat and then go out. When Germans get to where they are going, they have something to eat and drink, and then when they get home, they eat and drink again. It is sort of comical and nice, but damn you can gain weight fast too.
In general, restaurants are good and the normal restaurant is inexpensive. In addition, in small towns they will close Mondays. Another German attitude is that most all restaurants have all their lights on bright. Then do not seem to understand the cosiness that is involved in the business. Bars in restaurants seldom, if ever, place salty items on the bar to munch on, even though it would increase the liquor sales 10-15 percent.
Tips: Germans have a totally different system then we do. The wait staff earns EUR 10 to 15 an hour. Germans as a rule do not tip. If they do, most we would consider cheap tippers. My advice is to tip and tip in American style. The server will love you for it and from then on you will get great service.
Customer service (customer no-service)
This is a new concept in Germany … It used to be that if you bought something it was yours and that was it. Well it is slowly (very slowly) changing to what we are used to having. Many times, you will find that you have to push the point to get the service. A perfect example of this is when a friend of mine took his mobile phone in for repair. He asked them to fix certain problems and upgrade the software. After 30 days– yes an excessive amount of time– they called and said it was ready. He asked what was done to fix it and the service agent said he had no idea (right there it raises a large red flag) but her it is, sign for it and it is yours. Guess what? Nothing had been done to the phone….nothing. So be very cautious and demand service if you have to; get in there face and explain that they work in a service department and you would like service. Watch out for useless charges.
Environmental matters in Germany are strict. Germany is one of the few countries that really take environmental conditions to heart and try their best to have a green attitude. Items are sorted into paper, glass-metal-plastic, food waste, and miscellaneous trash. Also in smaller towns, like where I live, there are burn days. Two days in the spring and two days in the fall where you are allowed to burn leaves and other items. The fire lit for these cases can only be a meter wide; you also need fire-extinguishing material near, like a water hose.
The north central portion of Germany is fantastic…if you are a hunter. wild deer (rae) and wild boar abound. The catch is that if you own a weapon you need to have special certification to own it which involves special courses and tests.
In large cities these are about the same as in the States, but if you live in a medium size to small town (Dorf), be prepared to have the businesses take a break from noon until 15:00 hours. Wednesdays, the medical industry and many others will close at noon. In addition, many businesses will close at noon Fridays. Plus, something America has not had for over fifty years, one person does one job. If Frau Schmidt is the purchasing department, and she is sick or goes on vacation, guess what? Nothing happens in that department until she returns. There seems to be a total lack of cross-training or understanding why two people should know the same job.