Are Germans Bullies?

September 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

I don’t know and I hate to generalize. But I had a creepy incident today that leads me to believe that there might be a bullying aspect to the personality of some here.

I was in the discount store Aldi.

and there were at least a dozen people waiting on line at the only cash register that was open.

and so I politely asked an employee who was sorting some goods if they could open another cash register.

She was not pleased.

But she DID open a second register and yelled at us to line up at it.
Once she checked into the register and proceeded to scan the first customer’s goods, she threw the little sticks that separate one customer’s stuff from another down the shoot with an especially strong push. It was clear to me that she was not pleased that she abandonned what she was doing in favor of actually checking people out.

So when it was my turn to have my goods scanned and pay I said:
“Seien Sie nicht so veraergert.” Don’t be so angry.

She looked at me gruffly and said (in a very angry tone).
Ich bin doch nicht veraergert (I’m not angry).

It was almost comical. Someone who was clearly angry claiming they were not. And I think what annoyed her most is that someone (me) had the gall to ask her to open a second cash register. I mean you would think that she might have stumbled on this idea on her own. There were only 12+ people waiting in a single line.

After I got my stuff and proceeded to pack it away (there is of course NO ONE who bags your groceries here and you have to pay for the bags, neither of which bothers me as much as the crummy attitude from store personnel) I muttered to another customer about how incredible it was that this woman was angry at all. Her response?

Das Land geht einfach runter — The country is going downhill.

This really took me aback. The country is going downhill because a supermarket employee failed to open a second register when needed? Talk about pessimism.
I told her that really wasn’t the case. It’s just that people don’t have a sense of customer service.

So why do I think there might be a bully trait here? It’s because bullies tend to cave when you stick up to them. And I’ve seen this more than once in the short time I’ve been here. If you counter this know-it-all attitude with force, they break down. If this woman were really convinced what she was doing was correct (ignoring her customers) she would have kept on stocking the shelves. But she knew the right thing to do was to open a second cash register — and when she was called on it, she complied, albeit reluctantly.
It reminds me of the “bully” gym teacher my daughter had. Remember the woman who told her she would talk to her after class because she did not have the proper clothes on the second day? I called her on it and she caved.

Bullies are only successful if there’s no opposition. Fight back.


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