Germans love to tell people off.
There seems to be an inherent feeling of moral superiority and also the need to impress these beliefs on others.
It might originate from a sense of community and social awareness, and perhaps they mean well with their advice, but it really doesn’t come across like this.
Wow, I’ve really never seen anything like it. You can be told off for being loud at a concert, for standing on the grass, or even going through a door the wrong way.
I grew up in Manchester, and there if you dared to look at someone the wrong way, let alone tell anyone off, you were likely to get punched!
Here, there seems to be no end of people ready to scold you or tell you how you should be behaving.
Once I had a really horrible experience with this. I was on the train to the airport. I was tired and I put my feet up on the seat in front of me. Don’t get me wrong; I know I was at fault. People aren’t supposed to put their feet up. But, I’m an adult, I chose to break the rules, and I didn’t think this was anyone’s business but my own.
Wrong. I was wondering for about 15 minutes why a guy further down the train was staring at me in an aggressive manner. He was a big guy with a skinhead, and I felt really uncomfortable. To the point that I almost got up to ask him to stop staring at me.
Anyway, when he got up to get off the train, he came up to me and screamed, “Fuße runter!” (Feet down!) really loudly and aggressively, as if we were in the military or something.
I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to ask him what he cared, but I was too gobsmacked to speak. I put my feet down. I was scared!
But I couldn’t stop wondering how someone could care that much about someone else having their feet up on a seat? He didn’t work for the train company. It wasn’t his train. He was never going to sit there. How could he really be that angry?
I guess I will never understand Germans!