Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Five Obsolete Things That Are Still Inexplicably Common in Germany

When we first came to Germany, we thought it wouldn't be so different from the US. I mean, all of the drinks would be carbonated and we could see the doctor for free, but basically this is a western country. How different can it be? The answer is a lot. I frequently see weird, seemingly outdated things all over the place and kind of wonder what they are still doing here. Here are a few of those things.

1. Travel Agencies
Seriously, even in the small town we lived in when we first came here, I would pass two or three travel agencies just in the course of my daily business. Here in the city, there are even more. They are everywhere. If you are my parents' generation and in the US, you maybe used one of these 15 years ago. If you are my generation, you probably haven't booked a trip without Priceline/Expedia/Internet of some kind. I don't understand the possible utility in this. How can there be savings to pass on to the traveler if there is a live person plus a building that needs to be paid for?

2. Baby on Board Signs
This is excusable. They were too busy with the wall coming down to realize how lame these are.

3. Working Only During Daytime Hours
People, we've had electric lights for over 100 years now. But I could deal with things closing early if that were the only problem. Here, the mindset seems to be "why would anyone work at a time that the store isn't open?" So people are stocking the stores when you are in them, the computer maintenance on some of the supercomputers Hunter uses is done during the workday, when people could actually be using them, and no one has seemed to figure out the concept of shifts: I'm all for a lunch break but you can actually have different people eat lunch at different times.

4. Cash
Cash might not be "obsolete" per se, but I'm guessing if you are a person of close to my age living in America, you pay for most things with a credit/debit card. I've bought a half price iced tea at Sonic with my debit card; it's just easier. And of course, rare is the American restaurant that doesn't take at least Visa and MasterCard. In Germany, pretty much no one uses cards. I have seen a few people use their "EC Card (basically a debit card)" at the grocery store and when I bought appliances I could use card. But many restaurants only take cash and it's certainly the most common way to pay for things.

5. Keys
Just reading the title of this one, you're probably thinking Wait a sec. I use a key for my car. I use a key to get into my house/apartment. Keys aren't obsolete.

Reader, you do not even know. First of all, yes, we use a key to get into our apartment. In your dwelling, once you are in your apartment, there is most likely a deadbolt or a button/twisty thing on the door so that you can quickly and easily lock it from the inside. We don't have that. We must use the key to lock the door from the inside. It also requires a key to UNLOCK. So basically, you can be locked in. We live in a murder cave.

But it isn't just the front door. The doors inside also have weird locks on them. The bathroom door has like an old-style keyhole that you have to turn a key in it to lock. I was going to post a picture, but my phone-Internet has been throttled and it's taking forever. So you'll just have to use your imagination.

Anyway, I'll try to do another post a little bit sooner--went to the hospital today to get some information about giving birth there and everything so I can share some of that next time.


  1. Murder caves have the notorious advantage of also being highly zombie-resistant.

  2. Very cool list! I would have made some of the same assumptions about Germany.

  3. Travel agencies seem to be having a bit of a resurgence. Apparently they now get paid by hotel, resort, cruise line, tour, etc rather than the customer. I'm not really sure how it works but apparently there are a lot of really good deals to be had and it's better than having to set a bunch of alerts so you can get the best flight costs.

    The key thing is weird. I don't remember that about Italy.