Thursday, August 15, 2013

Are Germans Just Grumpy?

I just returned from a two and a half week trip to Germany and London, and I must say, the very first thing I noticed upon arrival in Berlin was how grumpy German service workers are. I don't think I've seen/heard so many eyerolls, deep sighs, and snarky comments in my entire life. The first thing I do after arriving at TXL is head over to the express bus counter to purchase a ticket into the city. I ask the gentleman if they accept MasterCard. His response was silence, and without any eye contact, he lets out a deep sigh, then literally rips the card from my hand and processes the payment.

At Sancoussi Palace in Potsdam, I was waiting in line to purchase a ticket, and as the gentleman in front of me finishes paying and leaves, I notice the lady behind the desk roll her eyes at him in the most blatantly obvious way possible. I think to myself that perhaps the man had given her a hard time or said something rude. Nope. I go up to her and simply ask what the difference was between two of the ticket types. She lets out a huge sigh, rolls her eyes, then reaches over for a long ruler and slams it against the chart on the wall and repeats exactly what is printed on there, no explanation whatsoever. I don't dare say another word and just pay what I think is the right amount.

The reception lady at my guesthouse in Hohenschwangau slams the phone on a customer and then rolls her eyes. She then proceeds to ask what I want. I tread very carefully. Although I must admit, she was actually quite nice to me and very helpful with information. Not so much with the lady at the fast food restaurant in MUC. I couldn't understand her English very well, so I asked her politely to repeat what she said. A deep sigh ensues followed by the dreaded eyeroll. Then a long pause, and in a loud deliberate voice, so that every other customer could hear, repeats what she said. People in line give me the evil eye.

Lord have mercy on your soul if you dare bother a waitress at a restaurant. I witnessed multiple people (usually tourists) getting shot down with snide remarks and eyerolls when asking for something. The best example was when I was eating at a rather quiet restaurant in Munich. Not too many other patrons and the waitresses weren't terribly busy. Two Japanese tourists enter just as a waitress was walking by them with beer for another customer. They quickly ask her if the restaurant takes credit cards (they do), and her response was a loud "Can you see I'm busy right now? Go ask someone else!"

It's slightly jarring, because I had so many pleasant interactions with regular German people on the subway, in restaurants, and just randomly on the streets. But holy cow... German service workers are definitely not known for their friendly demeanor!

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