One of the interesting cultural phenomenons I have found in Berlin is that giving-way-on-sidewalk-body-language is quite different than what I am used to in the US. This has become of those expat experiences that one takes for granted in their home country because it happens so naturally that one no longer has to think about it.
I can't even count how many times I (or even my small preschooler!) have been knocked over while walking on the sidewalks. The same cues that work in the US don't seem to work here and hence, I have muttered undesirable words like Q-bert under my breath numerous times while being bumped around.
I decided to do a little investigative work and pay close attention to what the people around me do. If you don't want to get bumped on the sidewalk, you can follow my rules but a better bet would be to Ask-A-Berliner!
- Don't make eye contact! Eye contact seems to signify you are weak and will give the right of way.
- Decide at the last minute. In the US, we step out of the way much earlier to decide who will
winhave the right-of-way. Don't be fooled by people who you think aren't paying attention! If you watch closely, they never bump anyone!
- Only take a small step out of the way at the last minute. No one makes any real effort to move. Everyone only moves the bare minimum just to slip on by.
- The old grannies will never move out of the way so just step aside young whipper snapper!
Is this the case in the rest of Germany? I could easily see this being just a Berlin thing as they seem that they would (mostly) enjoy bumping into poor unsuspecting foreigners!
What about other countries?