Mittwoch, 19. Februar 2014

The Divider Dilemma - how come there's not even a name for these things?

You know the divider thing you put between shopping at the checkout?

I never realised these things could create such conundrums til I came to live in Germany. 
I mean, why does the person in front never put the divider up between their shopping and yours? And if you put the divider thing up first do they ever thank you? Me neither.

Whenever someone puts it behind my purchases I don't know whether to thank them for taking the initiative, feel embarassed I didn't place it first, or just pretend I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer and didn’t see it.

Not enough that there are no rules for who places "the divider thing" in a land where everything else is so clearly fenced out and rulegoverned. I don't think there's even a word for it.

Is there really no German word for "the divider thing"?

Freitag, 7. Februar 2014

It's a long day's work in Germany - counting down to "Feierabend"

Bridging the gap between lunchtime and Feierabend....

Did you know that the most used expression at work in Germany has absolutely nothing to do with work? It’s “Schönen Feierabend!”

Germans say the equivalent of “Have a nice evening!” even more than “Da warte ich noch auf Feedback” -  a euphemism for "I gave the job to some poor jerk lower down the ladder and he hasn’t done it yet."

Other top-rated phrases, according to a report just out in  The Local  -  Germany's News in English  include “"Na?” (alright?), "Auf geht's zur Telko!" (time for conference call!) and “Ich bin ein Teamplayer".

Interestingly, the opposite of "team player" is “Einzelkämpfer” – an uncool label for someone who prefers to fight battles alone. I always grind my teeth when I read German "Psychotests" with titles like "Bist Du Teamplayer oder Einzelkämpfer?" (= are you a hero  or zero?). That speaks volumes about cultural differences between Germany and Britain or the USA, where individualists are seen as leaders, and teamplayers as sheep, simply willing to follow the flow.

Germans have of course good reason to love their "Feierabend". When British office workers are only just coming back from their lunch breaks Germans are already clocking off and heading home for Kaffee und Kuchen. "Feierabend" on Fridays, however, takes it to a totally different level, with work virtually coming to a halt just before lunchtime, as the "Gang", or step, to the canteen also signals the last "workstep" of the week.

Still, when Brits wish each other a nice evening at least they’re a lot closer to it. 5 o’clock is normal leaving time in Britain. Fridays included.

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