Tidyness FTW!

The following guest post was written by my Fiancée who, after living with me for more than a year now has started noticing how strong some of her German habits are and how some of the German commodities have a very…particular style. This is hopefully only the first of many posts to come from her in the future. Enjoy

The little bit of extra-tidiness in Germany

Since I am in a relationship to a Greek guy I am more and more questioned about the culture and manners in Germany. For example I realized that people who didn’t grow up here can’t even understand why a german is behaving so weirdly.

Consider the following situation:

I want to pick up my boyfriend and due to lack of parking space, I give him a short call to come outside and then stop on the sidewalk, in front of a private garage, with the motor running. Sidewalk has still 3 meters of space in width for the occasional pregnant with twins mother to pass easily.

It’s dark and rainy. A random guy walking on the pavement in direction of my car, beginning to hold his nose 5 m before reaching it. Stopping in front of it. Staring at me. Waiting…

I, knowing my beloved Germans, can’t be bollocksed to react. I am locking the doors (innocently, indeed it’s dark and that man could want to do something nasty to me 😉 ) and turning up the music. The guy walks to the front of my car. Staring at me, obviously expecting me to ask him what he wants. After that guy standing next and in front of my car for at least 2 minutes in a cold November rain, my boyfriend walks out of the house and gets into my car.

For me the situation was totally clear:

The guy was annoyed by a car parking on the pavement, which is a restricted area for cars and only reserved for people walking on it. Additionally to that, I kept my motor running which was insulting his nose and making the air dirty. He expected me to ask him what his problem was, which would be for him the ultimate opportunity to complain about my parking, accuse me of polluting the air with my diesel smell and not letting him walk straight (in fact, he would have had to pass my car in a slight curve).

Surprisingly, for my boyfriend it wasn’t clear at all:

“Did he want something from you? Why is he staring so accusingly?” He asked. My mouth dropped open and I needed a while to find the consciousness to close it again. That was the first time I realized how restricted the life is here in Germany. Our whole culture seems to guide us from childhood on while family members, friends and neighbours make sure during our lifetime, that all possible kinds of rules, laws, orders and expectations are followed.

How silly most of those are can’t be recognized by Germans anymore because we grow into it and take for granted that it is this way everywhere in the world. The only chance to having your eyes opened is somebody coming along and asking questions about fucking everything all the time! The Germans worst nightmare is Anarchy, because we are taught all our lives, that everything has to be regulated and can be regulated best by government or, at least, somebody else, an “expert.” Everything not strictly controlled must necessarily result in chaos and civil war.

Germans seem to need a bit more tidiness in their lives, always this additional bit that makes my boyfriend laugh repeatedly about offers in the supermarket. Tidy is not enough, super-tidy is what the average German is expected to aim for. If you’re looking into their bedroom it will most possibly be a mess like everywhere, but not showing that you don’t seem to be able to reach the highest goal of tidiness is what everybody works hard for. On the outside everything shiny, tidy and new, but don’t dare looking under the couch!

To support the Germans need for showing out his/ her tidiness and control over the chaos of custom goods all the country keeps buying to show their wealth, one of the top sellers are storage goods like a wardrobe hanger with holes for the scarf collection or this nice box I found (yes, I too am a German, and from time to time I buy storage goods!): Normally you would expect some random foldable box, looking like this:

What everyone would expect to get

But then, unpacking it, I found some additional gimmick that will just work to make my stuff look even more tidy:

Because everyone needs a special slot per sock pair

Because individual 10x10cm compartments are exactly what is missing to get everything organized.

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8 thoughts on “Tidyness FTW!

  1. OMFG. I become germanized. I have bought 2 storage boxes a couple of days back so the stuff flying around here is limited to fly around in the boxes and I have not to trip over it. oO – I think I put a nuclear warning sign adhersive on them, that makes me at least feel a little more russian again!

  2. Here in the U.S. we have all the extremes. Although my mother is an organizationally obsessed Eastern European/Canadian, I grew up in Miami among mostly Latinos who have a waaaay different view on their ability to control or organize life. So if somebody drove up on the sidewalk in front of me I would think "WTF!" and then I would think "lo que sea" and keep going.

  3. U.S. here as well — It's interesting, this tidy thing. When I was a die-hard doctrinaire leftie (thanks, cold war!), one of the things I used to do was "tidy the tidyers" — if someone looked at me cross-eyed, or worst of all, drove like pedestrians were an after thought, i would seriously get up in their face about it. These days, I tend to go from situation to situation, and not have this barrage of "shoulds" determining what is the "proper" response (thanks, anarchy!). Don't even try to look at me like I don't belong in my own neighborhood if you're gentrifying it though.

    As for my living space? Oh, I keep saying that I'll buy something to organize it all (clothes especially), then never do. I sort of like having my clothes in a bag — sort of underscores the possibility that everything could change tomorrow. You want to see organized though, look in the kitchen. I even label things. 🙂

  4. Even in Marx's time the stereotypical German was somebody who worshiped the state. For an anarchist, what could be worse?

  5. I absolutely agree with the post here. It's amazing how often the words "sauber" are used in this culture. "Ordnung muss sein" is a central tenet of German life, and internal fear of not obeying is deep in the character. Of course I am only talking about Bavaria where I live but it may be that this is not the same elsewhere in Germany.

    1. Heh, I'm lucky enough to hang out with the interesting Germans so I haven't noticed this especially, but my girlfriend would say it's definitelly the same 😉

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