Friday, April 10, 2009

Neighbours

For weeks, I had been planning to post about the phenomenon of omnipresent German "immigrants" in Austria. Today, Novala quoted a really interesting and well-written article written by one of the more than 40.000 German citizens living in Vienna.
Only a couple of years ago, German waiters or shop assistants would have been an exotic exception, when nowadays, they are hardly unusual anymore. As are Germans in pretty much every job-role.
The Viennese who like the rest of Austria enjoy a bit of a love-hate relationship (less love) with their German neighbours grudgingly had to accept this as a fact, telling themselves that it could be worse. After all, they could be Serbs, Turks or Czech. The greater comfort, though, is that you can blatantly make jokes about the Germans and not be accused of being racist. Whereas even the most xenophobic among Austrians (that would be 98 percent of the population) are dimly aware that railing against, say, Jews, Blacks or Asians is not exactly PC and good taste, it just confirms their suspicion knowledge that Germans are utterly devoid of humour if they fail to slap their thighs when being reminded for the umpteenth time that Austrians exclusively think of someone running when a German uses "laufen" instead of "zu Fuß gehen" or how hilarious they find someone pronouncing "Tupperware" or "Colgate" with germanified suffixes. The list is endless.
German colleague Karel had obviously been the butt of one too many Piefke-bashing jokes when he unexpectedly took revenge by quoting a lame comment of mine back to a German client. I just wanted the floor to swallow me up there and then and have since sworn to amend my bad ways vis-à-vis our Teutonic invaders...oops...friends was the word I was looking for.

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