Sunday, September 21, 2014

Throw Back: Thoughts on Germany

So I was looking threw my filing cabinet for some paperwork and came across several essays I had written in 2001 for my English Comp1 class. I thought I would share the one I wrote about Germany as it brought back some good memories.

Thoughts on Germany

Every morning I run through the German countryside and I notice how beautiful it is, and I think how much I will miss running here. With less than two weeks before I depart, possibly forever, I have been thinking about what I like and dislike about this country.

I like Germany because every street has individual recycling bins plainly marked for use.  This works because of the emphasis that is placed at the highest levels. Failure to recycle household trash results in a fairly substantial fine. Germany, as well as most of Europe, enforces these policies because they realize that they have finite resources and must conserve what they have. I wish the United States would adopt a similar recycling philosophy. 

I dislike Germany because German drivers are rude; they think going far makes them good drivers. Germans spend thousands of marks to go to driving school and get a driver's license. Unfortunately the first lesson they must receive is drive really fast and never let anyone ahead of you. German drivers will speed up to cut you off, so they can exit the autobahn ahead of you, instead of merely slipping in behind you like a courteous driver would. Merging is a subject definitely not covered in German driving schools. Asking a German to merge smoothly is like asking a leopard to change his spots. It all goes back to the German driving law number one: never let anyone ahead of you. So instead of a smooth traffic flow at on ramps or lane changes, what you usually get is a traffic jam, with everyone trying to beat everyone else. Traffic jams happen for no apparent reason. Traffic will be be backed up for miles, crawling along at a snail's pace, and then at some arbitrary spot, apparently chosen by the god of the autobahn, everyone just speeds up. "Stau" is the first German word my daughter learned.

I like Germany because Germany has a very sophisticated public transportation and walking trail system. The walking trails are highly utilized, as nature walking is practically a national obsession. I can go out my front door and walk or run as far as I want, without ever worrying about traffic. Literally hundreds use these trails to wander form village to village, leisurely strolling through field and forest. During the winter months many of these trails are used for cross-country skiing.  The busses and trains are clean, on time, and fairly inexpensive. With enough time and money you can travel to any country in Europe, using public transport. Once again this works because of top down support and the willingness of the public to embrace something that may be in the interest of the greater good. 

I dislike Germany because Germans have not, for the most part, discovered that great invention called the elevator. To get anywhere you have to climb the stairs. Because space is at a premium most buildings are at least 2 to 3 stories tall. That adds up to hundreds of flights of stairs throughout the country. Climbing four flights of stairs to your apartment, carrying groceries or doing laundry gets old real quick. This is why older German ladies have huge thighs.

I like Germany because Germans have well-trained dogs. They love their pets and treat them like children; it is rare to see a dog on a leash in this country. Most dogs are trained to voice command. By law, they must muzzle certain breeds identified as aggressive.  It is not often that a dog will lunge at anyone or so much as bark at a passing jogger.

I dislike Germany because Germans have 1001 ways to flush toilet. It becomes a game upon entering a restroom for the first time. How do I flush? Do I push this, pull that, break this beam, step on this? They also have this little ledge conveniently located just above the hole in the toilet bowl. What is that all about? Any business done, just sits there until you figure out how to flush the toilet. Maybe I am supposed to check for bugs or something, I don't know.

I like Germany because German food is always served very hot and in mass quantities. Germans use Krauterbutter on steaks. It makes the meat very tender and tastes great. They also make the best french fries (pommes frittes) in the world and they use them liberally. If you go hungry in Germany, it is probably because you are picky.

I dislike Germany because Germans have to worry about " Mad Cow" disease. I feel like I can't get a "Big Mac" at the local McDonalds without risking my life. Thousands of cows in Bavaria were bought by the German government and slaughtered to try and stop the spread of this disease. I still worry every time I eat any beef, even if it says it came from the USA.

I like Germay because German beer has a well-deserved reputation as the best in the world. Beer purity laws were passed as early as the 1600's. Germans love their beer, and every small village and large town seems to have its own brewery. Towns separated by as few as 2 miles may sell a totally different local brew. Lager, Pilsner, Weissbiere, Dunkel Weiss, Helles are just a few styles of beer available to tempt the palate. There is no social stigma attached to having a beer with your lunch, even during a workday.

I dislike Germany because Germans just don't get it when it comes to fast food. If you get food to go, the bag cost extra. If you get it to eat in, they give you real silverware to eat with. They charge you extra for ketchup packets and they don't put ice in the soft drink. Somebody should do a seminar on what the word fast means. Fast food here is not very fast.

I like Germany because Germans love a good party. Big street carnivals and fests are held at the drop of a hat. There is Oktoberfest, Bad Cannstadtfest, Fruehlings(Spring)fest to name a few. These fests have big-striped tents with long tables running the length of them. Waitresses walk between tables selling 1 liter Maases (mugs) of beer. There are rides and games for kids. Wurst, schnitzel, and pommes frittes are sold in great quantities.  Songs are sung and accordions played. Sparklers, roman candles, and professional fireworks accompany every major holiday or fest.

So as I prepare to depart, I am going to miss Germany. I am going to miss the bakeries, Ritter sport candies, Mezzo mix, and coordinated motorcycle outfits. I am going to miss castles, knodels, church bells and the mark rate. I am going to miss statues, fountains, Bavarian cow bells, and many other things unique to this country, but boy am I looking forward to eating at Taco Bell.

Just as a point of information I got a 95 on this essay. It is worth more to me know.

No comments:

Post a Comment