Thursday, July 16, 2009

On Harry and Hairy German Situations

I'm so excited that I'm a bit afraid I will burst. (well, not literally... come on... stop TAKING ME LITERALLY!)

Harry Potter and his crew of meddling Gryffindors are coming to a big screen near me... and I have tickets! Yeah, yeah I know it is a bit childish to be so excited, especially when this movie is about the book I liked the least out of the series. But I really enjoy Harry's world, and I look forward to stepping back into it this evening.

Tonight will also serve as another milestone. This evening after work as I make my way to the Harry Potter flick, Mimi (the name of my Vespa Scooter... don't you name your vehicles? you don't? silly you, it's more fun) and I will have logged a total of 3,000km (1,184 miles) since we being rescued from Scooter Hell in the fall of 2007. As we rolled to a stop this morning, her odometer read 2,999.06. All of that and my butt isn't even sore!

Speaking of Mimi adventures (and really, there are many although I don't chronicle them here for fear that my Sweet No will read them and forbid me from riding.), this morning I was getting petrol/gas/benzine (yeah, one five liter tank lasts over a week - love it!) I pulled up alongside a sexy-looking Mercedes two-seater. Behind slinky and brown was a 50-ish looking man holding a gas nozzle in that position which I've always thought was slightly suggestive.

As I hopped off and stowed my helmet I realized that he was scrutinizing me. When I reached up for a paper towel to help control drips while filling I stole a glance his way and I caught him unabashedly staring at me. OK, no worries... I just stared right back at him as I returned to the scooter. Mimi got her fill of gasoline and I went inside to pay. Walking out I was shocked to see that he was strolling directly toward me, still staring intently, with his body between me and the scooter.

With a raised eyebrow I asked him (auf Deutsch of course) if I could help him, as he was now in my way. He told me that he had something to discuss with me. I motioned to follow and then walked around him in an attempt to get back to Mimi and a possible weapon if need be - just joking there.

Soon I was listening to a long diatribe about how I had picked the wrong type of gasoline to put into the scooter. It seems that Mimi was getting the store brand which was designed for "special vehicles" with a number rating of 100 (who knows if it is an octane rating or not - Germany doesn't have "must display octane ratings" rules like America) and it simply would not do to put it into my Vespa. I didn't know the word for Octane so my response was probably rather cloudy to him, but my explanation centered around the fact that my scooter gets high octane gas (as recommended by the manufacturer) so that it goes faster and starts more smoothly.

Mr. slinky car seemed to accept my not-necessarily coherent explanation and went on his way which relieved me as he was really intense and even though he was nicely dressed, his way of acting was a bit strange to me.

Which begs the question... Why do Germans feel that it is their right - no, duty - to tell me what they think I am doing wrong? Crossing the street against the light, standing on the bus in the wrong area, queuing incorrectly (perceived) for the grocery store, biking on the sidewalk on my way to park, all of them are a reason for telling me what they think I should rather be doing. Ask any Ausländer Mother (from another country) about walking the streets of Berlin and being told that her child needs a hat, doesn't need a hat, should have a coat, shouldn't have a blanket, too much wind will give the child who knows what ailment, or even just that they shouldn't have a child that small on the back of a bicycle regardless of the efficiency of a child chair.

What makes Mr. I drive a piece of German engineering perfection such an expert about my Italian scooter when I'm quite positive that he's never been on such a low-tier vehicle in his adult life?

9 comments:

Jul said...

I often wonder the same thing. Is it that they're all raised to believe that there is one right way to do everything, and they happen to be the ones who know that one right way? And if they really think they're helping you out by sharing, why do they often do it in such a grumpy manner?

On the other hand, I'm just glad that the Münchners are less buttinski than the Swiss.

Jan said...

Really? I liked Half Blood Prince very much - I was a bit disappointed in Deathly Hallows.

As for the Germans, I've heard they're a very regimented people - perhaps this is just proof.

cliff1976 said...

Why do Germans feel that it is their right - no, duty - to tell me what they think I am doing wrong?

The aspect of your story that I liked the most is that Mr. Slickmobile thought he should be correcting you BEFORE he could have guessed you're not a native. That shows me that, if nothing else, it's not that THE GERMANS feel the need to correct EVERYONE ELSE, but rather to correct anyone "doing it wrong."

Perhaps it doesn't help to soothe the annoyance — sorry. But at least it's not just ol' Snook!

CrackerLilo said...

Oooh, my sympathies. I hate nothing more than being "corrected" by strangers, especially since most of my relatives are too happy to do it. Maybe we have German in our family? ;-)

J said...

Yep, I agree, they feel the need to criticize or correct everything. What an odd culture.

Michele in Erfurt. said...

My favorite such incident was a guy in a goddamn Trabi who kindly stopped to tell me that it was wasteful and bad for the environment to let my car engine run while scraping my windows. I have the impression that the farther north you go, the less people are all up in your business.

Goofball said...

in all honesty, I always feel strange how easily Americans in the USA start conversations with strangers. I can totally imagine that there too people would start giving unsollicited advice. No?

Tammy B said...

I think Americans are more into silent judgment. They will judge you, but they will do it silently and then complain about you to their friends. I miss that :-)

Emily said...

Why do Germans feel that it is their right - no, duty - to tell me what they think I am doing wrong?

A German friend taught me a key phrase which explains the attitude perfectly: Jede fahrer muß eine Lehrer und eine Polizist sein! (Please excuse any mistakes in my writing of that!) I find it extends beyond the car quite well: The attitude is just the same!!! :)