I moved to the west coast after university and even lived through the Seattle Freeze and found friends regardless of their polite but distant attitudes. But Berliner Schnauze is getting me down! (Berliner Schnauze = Berlin Snout)
What is Berliner Schnauze you might ask? Berliners rarely say excuse me when they knock you or your small child over. Getting on and off slightly crowded trains is a free-for all of elbows and legs. Cutting in line is not only an acceptable pratice but their glint in their eye as they order before you tells you that this was no accident. Snooker also does a great job of describing it here.
So far this week, I have been cussed out (in German) for:
- getting on my bike too close to the actual sidewalk forcing an old lady to take ONE extra step around me
- stepping off the train too slowly (really-It was quite quick but I waited until the train actually stopped)
- Slowly pedaling my bicycle on the sidewalk where I live because my building was right there (Normally, one should ride in the bike lanes but the sidewalk was almost empty and I had to get to my building somehow!)
- Someone thought that Baby Bird's hat was too far down on his head and he couldn't see. (Pick your battles with toddlers folks-he wanted it like that!)
You may be chalking this up to the fact that I am still a relative newbie to expat life here in Berlin but I have evidence! Here is an article about a €200,000 campaign to teach Berliners to smile in German and in English. (This is conveniently timed to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall)
Will it work? I am skeptical considering that while in Paris and someone bumped into me, they said "Pardon." Pardon??? I tapped the Scientist.
Me: "Someone just bumped into me and said Pardon"
Me: Pardon means excuse me in French right?
There you have it folks. Parisianers are FRIENDLIER than Berliners!
Die Welt, a national newspaper, wrote: “The campaign is of course doomed to fail. It’s easier to milk an ox than to convert Berliners.”
Yet somehow, I have learned to love this adopted city of mine. Schnauze and all....