Unknown in Germany: the orderly queue
I think it’s probably something to do with population, or the lack thereof. Such boisterous pushing and jostling would end in tears before bedtime in Blighty. On the whole, I must say that Germans know very well how to be civil, and would out-compete most nations at the Being Civil Olympics. Politeness is built into their language; the laws are strictly observed (try crossing the road on a red man and listen to the gasps of disapproving locals); little rituals hold sway in everyday life (church, Kaffeetrinken, customer service); everything is on-time. And yet, and yet… Today I was pushed in the back by an old woman who was concerned to beat all the young tykes to a seat on the tram. Everyday, the fit and agile push their way onto the U-Bahn trains before anybody has managed to disembark. A man recently served me with a full body-check as I attempted to leave a carriage carrying a heavy suitcase. I thought we should come to blows, but I held myself in check. One mustn’t sink to their level. And bus queues? Don’t make me laugh! There is a semblance of order, but only until the bus appears on the horizon. Then there is manoeuvring, pushing and place holding like nobody’s business. The fittest survive. The weak, the old (except for today’s grumpy granny), the infirm, the with-child – they all eat dust and end up standing in the aisles. It’s all pretty ordinary, as the Australians put it.
Also unknown in Germany: the consequences of the disorderly queue
I confess I do not understand why Germany can’t get this right. This and looking after their dogs. Domesticated canines seem to defecate willy-nilly in Berlin, and no one bats an eyelid. Everything else is just tickety-boo, and by-and-large we’re getting on swimmingly. I just can’t help the feeling that such things as these are the cornerstones of civil society. They are the things that, if done properly, help us repress the misanthropic feelings that inevitably arise from living among the urban. Just a semblance of the urbane softens our ire, cools our jets, waters our whiskey. When the common little courtesies among strangers are not observed, we wonder what else is awry, and before we know it we’re in a world of paranoia. So, sort it out please you lovely Berliners. Imagine everyone you see on public transport is your mother and behave accordingly. And clean up after your dogs!