Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seen on my run today…

German culture can be a challenge to outsiders trying to adjust. One perception that can seem mean, self-centered and downright annoying is the way that some people in German culture can flaunt their rights in the face of those around them. It is probably more a case of the German drive to do things the right way, but it comes across as a case of a giant “in your face” to others while exercising the right OF way.

It plays out at intersections where a car is given the right to turn by a green light, but has to wait for the pedestrians—who also have a green light—before proceeding. It seems at times that the pedestrians’ pace slows down while in the cross walk. Just perception though, isn’t it?

Today I saw the ultimate case of this phenomenon on my routine run. As I approached an intersection an ambulance was approaching from the opposite direction. All the cars slowed down and moved to their respective sides in anticipation of any number of things the ambulance could be preparing to do. As it turns out, it was going to come straight through the light which was green. However, as it got to the intersection the light turned red meaning that the cross traffic now had the right of way. Of course no cars exercised that right. Lives were presumably in the balance.

A pedestrian did.

I wondered at first why the ambulance had stopped in the middle of the intersection, but as I looked I could see. A young woman was slowly ambling across the street. Based on her gait I would have judged her to be in her mid to late seventies and in need of one of those walkers with the tennis balls on the legs. But she was clearly somewhere in her mid to late twenties. She took a long time moving 30 feet.

I don’t understand that motivation, but I see it too often to dismiss it.

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