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Everything is a matter of perspective. A fire tends to become warmer the closer you get to it. And so it is with the Germans. As a person unfamiliar with the German people, and if confronted with them for the first time, you may feel somewhat, well, uncomfortable. Please don't follow your instinct and get back on that plane. There is so much more to these distant folks.
However aloof the average Germans may seem, give them some time to get used to you. To them you are yet another person in the traffic jam, another body breathing their air, another mouth to feed and another addition to their bench press existence. They don't mean anything by it. Let it slide off your back and smile.
The smile is what gets them. Promise!
You see, Germans are so busy staying sane and protecting their property in a world that is dominated by pressure, expectations and taxes, they wouldn't be able to survive if they let loose. Germany hosts eighty-six million people on a stretch of land less than half the size of Texas. That makes for some extra stress. Try that in Texas and watch the population shrink. Fortunately, guns are illegal in Germany and that makes all the difference.
Now that you have flashed a smile at your first German, get ready for some serious shape shifting. Invariably, there will be a look of confusion on the face of the specimen. After all, why would a stranger smile? Smile again and you will have broken the ice. The wave of sympathy rolling towards you now will be overwhelming.
If you are of the opposite sex: Beware! Smiling for no reason could easily be misinterpreted by an emotionally deprived German. So throttle back, if necessary. If you are of the same gender: Beware anyway! You never know. Germany is very liberal in that respect.
Once the initial contact is made, Germans open up like an exotic flower. They become conversational, incredibly friendly and very interested in you. They will invite you for a drink or a meal and to meet other Germans.
You have just won a friend for life.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|