Thursday, August 4, 2011


I'm going to vent a bit here.
This morning on my way to work I was blown away watching the behavior of two of Charlottenburg's Ordnunsämter.

For those not in the know, the Ordungsamt is a bit like a police agency who have the lovely "meter maid" type duties, e.g., ticketing people who park illegally, cross the street against the light, dogs shitting on the sidewalk without the owner cleaning it up (oh, excuse me... that is indeed illegal, but it is laughable to think that the Ordungsamt actually does anything about that), if the behavior is "out of order"... thus "nicht in Ordnung", these guys are the ones you have to watch out for.

Ordnung is very important to the great majority of Germans. If you witness someone falling and you ask if everything is OK, the most likely response (if they are actually OK) will be "alles in Ordnung". Another important phrase is "Ordnung muss sein" (there must be order). The stereotype holds true for most of the Germans I've known... they want EVERYTHING in order.

Which makes the following even MORE silly when you realize that it happened on German streets with people specifically beset with the challenge of keeping OTHERS "in Ordnung".

There is a school zone on one of the streets I travel every day. In that same area is what I believe to be a Jewish school or Synagogue. I know this only because there are two Berlin policemen standing at the door every day. The only other place I've seen 'da po po's hanging around would be the Mayor's apartment.

Often I watch with a smile on my face and a healthy bit of Schadenfreude as cars fly by me, completely ignoring the school speed limit until they get to the place that they can suddenly see the police, then immediately the brake lights come on and they end up going the school speed limit for the next few meters, having little idea that the policemen couldn't actually care less about the speeding infraction because they are there for a different purpose.

Experience has taught me that only the cars which ignore the speed limit completely and actually go faster than 50 will make it to the next light before it turns red. I know that no matter what, Mimi the scooter and I will NEVER make this light even if the school zone speed limit is not yet valid (too early in the morning, or late in the evening), because I can't go over 50 even if I wanted to.

This morning as I was sitting in "pole position" at the red light before the school zone street, I looked to my left and saw in the next lane a car from the Ordnungsamt. I recognized the passenger as an Ordnunsämter who about a month ago went to the trouble of leaving the street and getting off his bicycle to give me hell because I drove (instead of walked) my scooter 10m (10 yards) on the 15m wide walkway as I parked it legally (in this same area) one rainy morning (with no pedestrians in sight, mind you).

As the light turned green I realized that it was a moment to see how well these men in charge of order actually remain "in ordnung" because we would be coming to the aforementioned school speed zone very quickly.

While passing the sign they didn't slow down at ALL, in fact, still accelerating WAY past the 30 restriction and putting a big distance between themselves and the cars behind them. Then I saw their brake lights come on suddenly and assumed they had realized their error. No, that error was mine. They were slowing down to wave at the two REAL Berlin police officers I talked about earlier. As soon as the wave was returned, they sped up again and made it to the next light JUST in time to go through it as it was yellow (turning red AS they were in the intersection).


Been reading:
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G in Berlin said...

Same reason that in the US, where having a tiny quantity of a controlled substance may land you in the slammer, it is known that cops have the best drugs? Or, quis cutodiet ipsos custodes?

G in Berlin said...

Also, I like your blog redesign- haven't seen it before since I usually read you in a reader.