Mythbusting

Disclaimer: this post may or may not have been inspired by a collection of infuriating experiences on the German railway network.

The Germans generally get a pretty bad wrap from Britons. Fat (but not American fat),  sausage-eating, punctual, efficient, unfriendly, humourless, a tendency to lean to the right of politics (to put it mildly). You name it, we think they are it. Having been surrounded by them for about 8 weeks, I think it’s time to do some mythbusting!

Myth 1: The Germans are humourless

FALSE. The Germans are hilarious! Their humour is just different from ours. This ties in nicely with…

Myth 2: The Germans are all Nazis

NOT GOING TO DIGNIFY THAT ONE WITH A RESPONSE. And the whole thing about “don’t mention ze war”? Load of rubbish. They’re completely at ease talking about it, and they don’t seem to mind making the odd joke about ol’ Adolf themselves either. The German speakers among you will (hopefully) find this hilarious:

Myth 3: The Germans are unfriendly

DEPENDS. If you meet a German as a friend, you can be pretty sure that you’ll get along like a house on fire. Of all the Germans I’ve ever met, I don’t think I can name any that have been nothing less than really nice! If you meet a German who’s behind a counter and is wearing a uniform and a name badge, however, you can be pretty sure you’re going to be treated like something they’ve stepped on. The German word for customer service is Kundendienst, but most people tend to use the English loan word Service. Clearly, something got lost in translation because to the Germans, customer service means being as rude, patronising and defensive as possible. At the supermarket, for example, I didn’t realise that you have to weigh and print a label off yourself when you buy vegetables. When I got to the checkout, the assistant tutted, rolled her eyes and shouted “are you deliberately trying to annoy me?”. Another time I was getting a rail replacement bus, and a woman beside me asked a Deutsche Bahn employee whether her ticket was valid for the journey. The employee’s response? “Oh for god’s sake, I’ve told you all a thousand times, I don’t know! Do I look like an information desk?!”. I’m pretty sure if I’d spoken to a customer like that at Specsavers where I work back at home, I’d be sacked on the spot! I know customer service can be a bit patchy in the UK but Germany really does take the prize. Talking of the railways…

Myth 4: The Germans are punctual and efficient

FALSE FALSE FALSE FALSE. FALSE. The idea that the Germans are somehow the most efficient people on earth was made up in cloud cuckoo land. I’m a reasonably frequent user of the railway network at home and I can count on one hand the amount of times there’s been a cancellation or a delay so bad it’s ruined my travel plans. In Germany however, that tally stands at around 50% of the journeys I’ve made. I thought I’d have a look at some statistics, and it’s not just me – in September 74% of long-distance Deutsche Bahn trains arrived within 5 minutes of their schedule. For East Midlands Trains which is my local train company at home, 92% of trains made it. When I get back home in the summer, anyone that complains about the railways and says anything along the lines of “why can’t we have an efficient system like the Germans?” will receive a swift slap from me!

Correction: exit on the right hand side

(not so much of a )Myth 5: The Germans love eating sausage and drinking beer

Can’t really argue with that one!

No, seriously!

*******************************************************************

Just so I don’t get done for libel or something:

http://www.bahn.de/p/view/buchung/auskunft/puenktlichkeit_personenverkehr.shtml

http://www.networkrail.co.uk/about/performance/

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