Los alemanes, Cabezas cuadradas (Germans, square faces.)
Principle above everything.
It is really tricky to write about culture. It might be only my unique point of view or my personal experience that usually never happens to anybody else or maybe, it has something to do with the culture. Well, this time I have got back up as my Spanish friend shared my feelings.
In Spain, they have a secret word, (somewhat degrading) to refer to Germans, Cabezas cuadradas, which means, literarily translated, square faces, and liberally translated a red – tape minded person who always put the principles above everything and does not know any flexibility. I hope that I have not just revealed top national secret of Spain. I feel sorry for my Spanish friends now that they have to think of a new code. Now that I have been living here in Germany, I can see so many squares in faces, square eyes, square noses, square lips and etc. Who knows, maybe one day I also get a square face.
|Irrelevant to the text, but behold, our friend also has square face!|
I went to a cinema yesterday with one Spanish, a German, a German Vietnamese, a German Russian and a Korean friend. As I was gifted with the Latin passion, I was a bit obsessed with the little sunshine that you have here in Germany. My Spanish friend also backed me up begging the other friends to go to roof – top hotel bar from a five star hotel to enjoy the sun. (It is hard to get sunshine in a city full of skyscrapers.) Yes, we were going to have only a glass of soda or water over a table for an hour until the movie starts and I admit that it was not very nice of me.
Arriving at the roof top, a full beautiful panorama view of the city and the Sun! we wanted very much, welcomed us. We sat around am empty table full of joy and some minutes later, a waiter came to us and spoke to us.
Waiter: would you like to have something to drink or something to eat?
We: we want only drinks
Waiter: sorry, but tables here after that partition are reserved only those who order food. Please go to the standing bar on the right side. It’s a rule of the restaurant.
And of course, as you have seen it coming, the drinking bar was already occupied by Frankfurt bankers notorious for their frugality and greed. Although the restaurant was empty, the waiter kept us telling us “Nein” with super rigid and stubborn square face.
We could not stand up against his and restaurant’s principles, more important than anything else, even earning some pennies from the drinks, and we had to leave the place back to the shadows from the high buildings. (Well, actually, I guess the waiter was not originally from Germany but from Middle East, but his life in Germany also has made his face square. A good example of perfect integration, isn’t it?)
Meanwhile I and my Spanish friends did not stop whining that probably, if we were in Spain, we could talk to the waiter a bit and we might get the seats there, the other friends left the place just accepting the principles.
A lesson that I learned here in Germany: once a German says “NEIN”, then it will always stay as “NEIN” and when the principles say so, we have stick to them no matter what. Mercy, Empathy, or compassion has no place here in Germany when it comes to the principles.
Auf jeden Fall, it does not have only its bad sides. I believe that the rigid German spirit honoring the rule made a great contribution to this economic growth and a birth of very secure and safe society. One thing I love about Germany is that everything goes well and smoothly once you keep the rule.