Doors and Rules, Doors and Rules. Impressions of an American in Germany.


Homes in Germany have more doors than windows.  The only thing there is more of than doors is rules.  To go from the kitchen to the dining room in my hosts home there are two doors that must be opened and closed on the way.  And there are three thick doors to negotiate to get from the bedroom to the bathroom.  Excuse me, I should say to the toilette.  In most cases I make it through all of them in time.  There must be another rule against door knobs; there isn’t a knob to be seen anywhere.  They all have large sturdy handles so you can open them with your elbow when your hands are full.

There is no toilet in the bathroom.  If you need a toilet, that’s a different door.  Once inside, you may see a little graphic sign there that tells a man that “Stehen ist verboten!”  A man’s aim is not trusted in some homes in this country; he must sit the way the ladies do.  And if serious business has been completed the product will neither sink nor float in the bowl.  It sits high and dry on a little shelf until you push the button to whisk it away.  But don’t look for a handle to flush.  All the handles are on the doors.  Look for two buttons that may be that may be somewhere on the wall.  Intuition will tell you whether pushing the small button or the large one is the most appropriate.

If your bedroom is on the second floor it probably has a door to the outside and nice little balcony.  If you want a little air in the room just lean the whole door into the room.  It can be tipped in as though the hinges were along the bottom instead of on the side.  It doesn’t take long to figure out how to manipulate the handle to accomplish that.  Most any Americans learn to do it in less than ten minutes.  Then it’s a fun thing to do.

Now about those rules, our hosts went out to buy a variety of breads and pretzels to go with the liverwurst and baloney slices for breakfast.  They came back empty handed.  The shopkeepers who sell bread are not allowed to be open on Sunday, but gas stations are, and some of them sell bread.  However it turned out there is yet a new rule that gas stations are only allowed to sell bread on Sunday to people who are from out of town and can confirm that by driving in with a car that has an out of town license plate.  The German people are proud of their rules but still complain when a new one like this comes along.  Angela Merkel got the blame for our stale bread and shortage of enough breakfast pretzels to go around.  She is out of favor in this household.

After nearly two weeks on this trip to Germany it is time to go back home to the land of a few flimsy bedroom doors and wide open lawlessness, especially on Sundays; home to America where a liter of beer costs more than a cup of coffee, if you can imagine that.  I will miss the pristine beauty of Bavaria where there are no paper cups littering the roads because there are no paper cups.  There is more I will be sorry to leave behind, but a helping of fried eggs and bacon or even a donut beats still beats liverwurst and pretzels for breakfast anytime.

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