Die Grundlichkeit der Deutschen

September 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

Or why are Germans so thorough (or anal, as my kids would say)?

Actually I think sometimes this is a good thing. In the States we tend to gloss over things, make generalizations and, well, we’re not very specific sometimes. Maybe it has to do with the language?
German is a very precise language. There are all these tiny nuances and specific ways of saying things. Germans don’t verallgemein (generalize) things like we do.

Take Zit Cream

My son ran out the other day and asked me to buy some. So I went into an Apotheke and asked for Zit Cream — which goes by the amusing name of Pickelcreme. Of course I’d forgotten the active ingredient that is in just about every tube of acne cream in the United States: Benzoyl Peroxide.

The drug store lady asked me what the “Ursache” or origin of his zits is: “We have different types of solutions, depending on the cause of the acne.”

I was dumbfounded. My son has teenage acne. How many kinds of causes can there be?
But she proceeded to go through this litany of possible causes — hormonal, oily skin, something with the diet. She asked me what the acne looks like, where it is and how often he gets it.

Remember: I was in a drug store, not a doctor’s office.

I said: “I’m from the States and in America there’s a certain ingredient — I can’t remember its name — that is in just about every acne cream you buy there. Don’t you have something like that here?

Answer: No.

Of course I Ieft without anything. It was just too confusing. I told her I would bring my son back in and she could figure out what he needed.

At first I was annoyed by the encounter. I just want a fucking tube of zit cream. How hard can that be?

But then I thought: She’s right. It’s better to go deeper and find the cause and use the medicine that might work best for that.

There really is something positive about being anal.


§ One Response to Die Grundlichkeit der Deutschen

  • Klaus Engelhardt says:

    A shout-out for pharmacists and their training! I had an aunt, “Tante Mina”, who was THE senior pharmacist at the Engel Apotheke in Wuerzburg. It still exists today. An “Engel” she was indeed! She commanded an unbelievable wealth of medical information and took wonderful care of us four siblings during those very difficult, shortage-beset years 1939-1948. Pharmacists are the coolest!
    Klaus E.

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