Last November we posted an article from our regular columnist Adam Fletcher entitled “How to be German in 20 easy steps”. It was a slightly deranged, tongue-in-cheek love letter to Germany. We had no idea just how much it would resonate, since clocking up more than 200k likes, and now, around a million readers later, it’s been released as a 50-step, dual language book.
VentureVillage has five signed copies to give away. For a chance to win one, just tell us the one thing you love most about Germany. You can comment your entry below this post, under the article link on our Facebook page, tweet us or post us a Vine on Twitter. Please read our Contest Guidelines for terms and conditions – winners will be picked on Monday 29 July 2013.
Here are two brand new steps from the book to aide you on your quest for increased German-ness!
#32 Fenster auf Kipp
There is a widespread belief in South Korea that sleeping in a closed room while a fan is on can cause death. Fan death it’s imaginatively called. While scientifically possible, it’s about as probable as winning every lottery on earth, all at once, whilst being struck by lightning. Still, it’s a widely held belief and, because of it, fans there are equipped with timers.
Germans have their own version of fan death. Because we’ve all praised German builders and engineers so much, many Germans have come to believe that they don’t build apartments and homes but airtight fortresses. As a result, many Germans believe Erstickungstod (death by suffocation) is a serious concern if fresh air is not regularly allowed to circulate their Zwei-Zimmer-Wohnung. Therefore, German windows have been built with a special Kipp (tilt) mode, leaving the window approximately 10 per cent open, in a fixed position.
Even in the dead of winter, it’s not uncommon to walk into a German’s bedroom and find the window kipped and the room cool enough to freeze meat. If not kipped, then regular Stoßlüftung (rush airing) is required. This is when you open the window fully for a short time to allow cold air to flood in and attack the evil, stale, warm air. This also explains why Germans are deeply distrustful of air conditioners, which just sit around mocking them, churning out old, recycled carbon dioxide.
The love of kipping can be quite a problem for international relationships. The English put an apartment’s heating on fully from the first of October, then don’t touch it again until late April. We’re not used to a winter of Fenster auf Kipp. So we have to play a sort of Heating Tag with our German partners. In which we wait for them to go to sleep, quietly close the window they’ve had open all day, then put on the heating to drift off into a warm, toasty slumber. By morning the good times are over, as our spouses have awoken, surprised and thankful that they did not suffocate during the night, turned the heating immediately off, and reopened the window again.
Brrr. Get used to that cold feeling, you’re a Kipper now.
As a marketer, I was always told – never let the truth get in the way of a good story. In Germany, it’s the opposite; never let a good story get in the way of the truth. For Germans, truth is sacred and prayed to from the altar of fact.
Therefore, it’s also very important to correct other people when they say something incorrect, no matter how small and utterly inconsequential it might be. They are wrong. You are aware of this. It’s your duty to inform them. This, the Germans call klugscheißen (smart shitting, literally translated). Germans being whip-smart fact-lovers are world champions at the Klugscheiß.
If someone were to say “yeah, we were just in China at the end of October, we spent a week in Hong Kong and then in Shanghai”, they’d be immediately interrupted by their partner, who would correct them by saying “It wasn’t October, we flew out on 1 November at 10.37 am. From Tegel. You brought a bagel in departures, remember? With cream cheese.”
“Okay, 1 November. Fine. My bad.”
Then someone else wanting to join the Klugscheiß party would add, “Actually, Hong Kong is not a part of China like Shanghai. It’s a Special Administrative Region, which affords it certain legislative freedoms.”
“Okay, we were in Shanghai and Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region of China, affording it certain legislative privileges, for two weeks from the 1 November.”
“Thirteen days. We were only there for thirteen days. Not two weeks.”
“Hmmpfh. I give up.”
There are various tactics for dealing with being repeatedly klugscheißed. You can just stop saying anything ever and cite a fear of incorrectness as the reason for your vow of silence; or you can create a T-shirt that says, “It really doesn’t matter though, does it?” which you can point at every time it happens; or you can accept that you can’t beat them, and so should just join them, experiencing the great joy that can be found in not very delicately informing people of their minor factual incorrectness.
How to be German / Wie man Deutscher wird is available now.
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