Yesterday I was asked the question: “what do you miss about Wales?”
Unexpectedly, my answer is not what I thought it would be. The thing I miss most is not being able to deal with the people who make life difficult. I can’t speak German well enough to sort out the problems with bankers, landlords and the assorted villains of modern life. Maybe when I overcome this problem, I will miss being by the sea.
The thing my wife misses most about the UK is people being nice (and she is German). Apparently there are a significant number of people in the service sector here who don’t just think it their God given right to be arseholes, but feel duty bound to do so. If you worked in a bank or shop in the UK, you would expect to lose your job if you were purposely rude to customers, right? Well, not here my little Dummkopf. It’s almost mandatory to be rude; if you aren’t your colleagues might think you are going soft.
Does this behaviour has its roots in the Sie and Du thing and the way Germs seem to crave respect and status -at least, more so than in the British Isles?
If you are an arsehole to someone, they may not respect you but at least they know you don’t respect them, and that’s almost equivalent isn’t it? In a really twisted and fucked up way, you confer status upon yourself when you are rude to customers without danger of repercussion. This isn’t just culture clash, it’s culture clusterfuck.
Personally, I think supermarket staff here have actually become much nicer over the last few years. Now 99% of staff will say “schones tag” when you leave the checkout, and even if they don’t mean it, it doesn’t matter since they are no longer going out of their way to be rude. Everyone is happier. I think I remember reading something about people being forced to smile for a study, the upshot was they ended up putting themselves in a good mood; maybe that’s happening here?