Before people start jumping to conclusions and lashing out, note this as my disclaimer.
Anyone that knows me is aware that I am genuinely fond of Germans and Germany. Oh, and I’m German. Even as the author of this article notes, it is humorous and hard not live in a place for an extended amount of time and without learning or picking up on a few things.
Cross at a Red Light (with Small Children)
The simplest and best way to provoke some classic Teutonic anger is to meander across the road when the light is showing red. You’ll be risking a fine for jaywalking and you may even be mowed down by a speeding vehicle, but it’s worth it to witness the expressions awaiting you on the other side of the road.
Stare Back at Them Using Binoculars
If staring was an Olympic sport, the Germans would win Gold every time. In places like the UK and the USA, staring at strangers for sustained amounts of time can get you yelled at, punched or even killed. In Germany, staring openly is something that just happens – like breathing or walking. Germans don’t just stare at you, they stare through you, mostly through genuine curiosity but sometimes critically.
Use Fancy English Words They Don’t understand
Most Germans speak very good English, which makes them slightly smug. This is mainly because many German words, as Mark Twain once noted, are “so long that they have a perspective.” One of the shortest words in the German dictionary is Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, for example, which loosely means “No”. The longest word in English, Antidisestablishmentarianism, is pathetic in comparison, so a long-word battle isn’t going to work. Instead, take advantage of English’s arcane vocabulary, sprinkling long-forgotten words like “circumbilivagination” and “epalpebrate” throughout the conversation as if they were commonplace.
Urinate Standing Up
This one is for men and is based on a subtle cultural anomaly in Germany where men tend to pee sitting down. There’s even a name for men who do this: sitzpinklers; those who insist on standing — and therefore spraying, maintain the (mostly female) critics — are called stehpinklers. This is not a massively advertised national trait and applies mostly to domestic situations; even the most house-trained German men don’t wee sitting down in clubs or public toilets.
Say You Don’t Like Asparagus, Especially if it’s White
Germans are absolutely, uncontrollably cuckoo-crazy about asparagus (spargel). It’s been dubbed the ‘vegetable of kings’ and ‘edible ivory’. What’s more, it’s not the usual green variety they obsess over, but white asparagus, which the rest of the world generally regards with suspicion.
Germans were busy recycling things back when most of us were still learning how to use our opposable thumbs. Hence their recycling infrastructure, refined over various millennia, has very strict rules involving colored bins for different forms of rubbish (plastic, tin, food etc.).
Break the News That No One Outside Germany has Seen Dinner For One
Asking a German person if they know Dinner For One is a guaranteed way to make their eyes light up. The film is about a bonkers aristocrat (Miss Sophie) who celebrates her 90th birthday with friends who, given they’ve all died off, are imaginary. Her butler, James, comically fills in for each of them, mimicking their voices, drinking their toasts in turn and getting steadily more sloshed. It’s been shown every New Year’s Eve in Germany since the early 70s and is nothing short of a national institution.
Set Your Alarm & Grab the Sun Loungers First
Vacationing Deutsch folk are notorious worldwide for their lounger-bagging. So much so, that in 2009, Thomas Cook set up a booking service to help Germans bag their loungers before they’d even boarded the plane. For maximum vexation, set an alarm to get up in the middle of the night and cover all available sun loungers with towels.