The Germans/Bavarians desire for order is legendary, and rightfully so. Few cultures place so much emphasis on punctuality, tidiness and ‘the plan’. Meetings are held to decide when the next meeting will be, begin promptly at 9am and end almost an hour later. They would end exactly an hour later but don’t because the next group has booked the meeting room for 10, and it would be impolite to have them begin at 10 with stale air and warms seats.
But there are a few instances when all of the ideas and rigidity of structure are lost like a scooter in a New Delhi traffic jam. The reasons for this lapse are very vague or possibly reside in a den with a Wolpertinger*. Either way, they seem as inexplicable as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity or what specifically makes Germans love inclement weather*. (It’s good for the nature.)
As I’ve written about before, bread is as important for Germans as water is to most fish. They cannot and will not live without it. I have lived in Munich for more than a decade and have tried nearly every make and model. I am as close to being an expert as possible, having been raised on Wonder Bread or some other sponge in America. I can also say with certainty that the worst bread in Munich is better than the best bread in Florida. There is no such thing as bad bread in this city. And there’s plenty for everyone!
This makes it all the more curious to me as to the reasons why the Germans/Bavarians sometimes cut in line at the bakery (or butcher’s) if the next customer delays saying his order by a nanosecond. The line jumpers will use their peripheral vision, they are experienced and adept at that too I might add, and pounce upon the unsuspecting. The shopkeeper does nothing to chastise such behaviour, and may even encourage. It is a rather boring job. Another observation is the better ‘the line cutter inners’ dress the more likely they are to jump in line.
The real arseholes even park their cars in the traffic lanes. On more occasions than I can remember-and usually on Saturdays, what started out as a slightly annoyed ringing of a bell on a tram by the driver in the background became an all-out blast of ‘fuck you’. I have even seen a few words exchanged and angry fists shaken between drivers of the trams and those who think their gout-racked knees give them ample cover for parking in the street while they run in to grab their baked goods.
Another example of chaos and disorder is the unloading and loading of buses and other modes of mass transportation. It’s every man for himself. And I do mean man. Bavarian and German men will stand just in front of the door and sometimes even push through the throngs if there’s an available seat to be had. Men here won’t and don’t think twice about giving up their seat to a woman. They stay seated. Their beer bellies say they could use the few minutes as an opportunity to burn a calorie or two. But there’s no chance. Perhaps it’s the ideas of ‘Vaterland’ or other men perks in this country where men still rule*. In London, they line up to the side to allow passengers to get off before they get on. Hell, even in Kyiv, Ukraine, they fucking line up. Kyiv, Ukraine!
The third illustration of pandemonium in German/Bavarian society is at the supermarket check-out line. First, one must realize that the whole check-out business in supermarkets is a complete clusterfuck. Why on God’s green earth should a person wait so long to give a company his hard earned money? The wait at the cashier sometimes takes double the time to fill up your shopping cart. And then, when they finally make the call to open a SECOND cashier, the levee breaks. All of the shoppers who were lurking NEAR the check-out line but weren’t actually IN the line make a mad dash to the newly opened cashier. For those who have been waiting the longest no quarter is given. It’s a Chinese fire drill in the heart in Munich.
My German/Bavarian friends are aware of the aforementioned examples I’ve given. Their response is to simply shrug it off. They claim that ‘perhaps the chaos stems from so much discipline and rules in their everyday lives’. I’m not buying it. Stress? Really? I lived in Ukraine. That’s stress. This is not because of stress but is some kind of game, the rules for which I am not yet privy to. It only reaffirms my belief that total integration into German/Bavarian is something that I can only hope for-for my grandchildren.
*future posts possible