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This would never happen in MY country!

April 25, 2009

The sun’s started to shine more often- anyone notice that? And despite having a wardrobe (and several suitcases) full of clothing, I decided to head out to the shops to see if I could find some bargain warm-weather clothes.

What I came back with was 2 pairs of tights and the desire to either wring someone’s neck or get out of Berlin long-term.  In short, the service here is SHITE. I have many examples but let’s take the one that stands out the most (and the one I’m going to use when I get around to being a stand-up comedienne): Standing in a queue, waiting to pay for the tights (that’s stockings to anyone who doesn’t speak the English made in England), I witness a pregnant woman in front of me, 3 different kids shoes in her hand, politely informing the cashier that the shoe department is in chaos and that she cannot find the right shoes in order to create 3 PAIRS of shoes (because, funnily enough, her kids happen to have 2 feet each). What is the cashier’s response? ….

a) “Oh dear madame, ever so sorry about that. I’ll just serve this lady and then I’ll be right over to assist you”,

b) “I’m very sorry- let me call a colleague to assist you”

OR was it c) “What do you want ME to do about it?”

YES, ladies and gentlemen, we’re in Berlin so it could only be c) “What do you want ME to to about it?”

Rather than beating the cashier to death with the shoes in question, the pregnant lady asks if perhaps she could help seek the mysterious missing shoes (perhaps they weren’t stolen by a one-legged pixie afterall) and the cashier’s reply is that she cannot, under any circumstances leave the till. The response to “Is there not a colleague here who can help me” is an equally unrewarding “No, maybe you can come back tomorrow when that area has been tidied and you may find the shoes”.

My blood, it boils but being the typical Englishwoman that I am, I didn’t intervene, I simply paid for my tights (stockings) and left the shop, tutting and shaking my head and vowing to leave Berlin to rot in its own putrid impoliteness.

Most people say that you can’t get a leopard to change its spots- i.e. shite service has been perfected over generations here and it’s simply an accepted part of every day life in Berlin. Some people are pumping money into making Berliners more polite. I don’t really have much choice other than to stay in Berlin and try to come to terms with the fact that the rules are different here- maybe I need to learn a few choice phrases to cover those situations like “This would never happen in MY country!” and “Politeness costs nothing, LADY/MR.!”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    April 25, 2009 16:42

    I’m pretty sure I’d last roughly 10 minutes in the shops of Berlin before being arrested for causing grievous bodily harm.

    My compliments on your British sense of restraint; i.e. bottling it up and complaining after the fact.

  2. April 25, 2009 17:16

    It’s situations like this that always inspire me to learn perfect German, so that I can tell off every (German) A*&^%$@* out there! Maybe someday I’ll get to that project as well. This wouldn’t happen in my country either, but somehow I don’t feel satisfied with that response!!

  3. Manda permalink
    May 2, 2009 14:33

    ooo it’s a shame what little German I learnt at school hasn’t been retained – I could have had so much fun tormenting sales staff when we come to visit 😉

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