. . . and then some more . . . More life. More Jesus.

Tag Archives: German Culture

2 Tips For Your Next German Bus Ride

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I sat toward the back of the bus, next to the window. It wasn’t crowded when I got on, so I took the liberty of placing my bag on the empty seat next to mine. I’d done it dozens of times, the bus-riding thing. The interacting with people in this foreign land I call home for right now. But somehow I forgot the unspoken rule.

So when the bus grew more crowded and I moved my bag so the elderly lady could have a seat, I greeted her with a smile as she sat down.

I thought nothing of it for the brief moment after my happy “Hallo!” Then I saw her utterly confused, decidedly befuddled reaction.

Oops! I thought, I just broke the cardinal rule of German culture. I spoke happily to someone I do not know!

I’ve done it before during my seven-months here, but never so blatantly, I suppose. I’ve smiled at strangers, spoken to old ladies. But never have I engaged someone I do not know in such a personal way. At least, I don’t think I have. Well, maybe I have, but I’ve never had such a hilariously daunting reaction to my American stupidity.

I laughed as I turned to face the window. Laughed at my forgetting. Laughed at her shock. Laughed at the craziness of an American living in Germany, breaking unspoken rules of culture and speaking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then I resolved to tell you, my friends here, about it. Because I want you to know two things about bus rides in Germany.

  1. If you are ever in Germany, I want you to know what is expected. And I don’t want you to make the same mistake I made. Whatever you do, do NOT greet a stranger on a bus.
  2. Be ready to laugh at yourself. Always. If you cannot laugh at yourself, you  will have a very difficult time enjoying not just your bus ride, but nearly everything about it here.

Remember those two things, and you’ll at least know how to conduct yourself should an elderly lady sit next to you on a bus. The rest, well, I’ll leave that to your own experience. After all, experience is the best teacher.