Germans have a reputation for being much more direct than the Brits, who often hate to “cause a scene.”
A classic example was some months ago in a restaurant-cum-bar in Essen. Pre-cinema drinks. A new waitress. She was very friendly. To her buddies, seated at a table at the other end of the bar. Small talk, small talk, small talk, flirt, flirt, flirt.
Ah, here she comes now. We place our order. She takes an order off the couple at the table next to me and Schatz. Executive summary follows.
Lots of small talk, flirting and sharing of jokes with her best buddies.
Nigh-on impossible to get eye contact with us as she walked past me and Schatz. The couple next door had to wait 20 minutes for their drinks. “But I placed your order!” protested the waitress. (Yeah, but you never bothered to check on how the pair were getting on, did you?)
We wanted several times to order further rounds, but after the constantly being ignored, my blood pressure was rocketing. (Schatz thinks I’m normally “ausgeglichen.”)
Finally Schatz asks the waitress’ colleague, a great Hungarian guy who I call “Elvtas” (“comrade”), for the bill.
Elvatas: Sorry, I can’t do that. You need to ask my colleague.
Schatz: Your colleague is terrible.
Now, to say that takes balls. Schön gemacht!
And there’s more.
Waitress comes to us.
The bill comes to €42.30.
Schatz hands over a €50 note.
Waitress takes the banknote.
I stand up, put my pullover on.
Schatz sits there, looking the waitress in the eye. (That’s your cue to start giving change, my dear.)
First, coins back, slightly slowly, with pregnant pauses.
Waitress seems to be awaiting the words,
“Stimmt so.” (“Keep the change.”)
(It’s not going to happen.)
Then finally, the waitress hands back the €5 note.
Pregnant pause and expectant look at Schatz.
You can look. You can expect. You won’t get a penny out of us tonight.
Then the penny drops, but not into her hand. No tip from us tonight, bella.
Danke. Schönen Abend noch.
Schatz and I stand up and head to the exit. I could have hugged Schatz for her action. Let’s hope the waitress learnt her lesson. Goodness is its own reward, and for customer service staff, also more financially rewarding.
Have a direct day, won’t you!