communication, social media

Apparently, more than one person thinks IATA this week… now ask me how much I care!

The featured photo is one of the presents I sent to Bill’s grandson. Just call me “pseudogranny”… 🙂

Before I get too cranked up with today’s post… a little musical interlude.

A little levity is in order…

A few days ago, I vented quite a bit about a situation that developed between a relative by marriage and me. My relative by marriage read my rant (now at a whopping nine hits) and is now no longer my “friend”. I vented about that, too. For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about that situation, and how quick we are to cancel each other over things that are basically really trivial. Years ago, before we had social media, we had fewer chances to confront each other with our “ugly” sides. When the confrontations did come up, we either hashed them out and came to new understandings, or we just avoided each other. And we didn’t run into nearly as many people back then, so these kinds of disagreements were less common.

In 2023, it’s much easier to bump into people who will go nuclear at the drop of a hat. I’ll admit, I can be rather quick to block, too, however I mostly confine my blocking to strangers who are obvious scammers. Generally speaking, a person with whom I have a relationship really has to be offensive– and the off-putting behavior has to happen more than once or twice– before I’ll go nuclear with the block button. I really don’t like to block people on social media unless there’s a very good reason for it. And yet, I probably block several profiles a week belonging to strangers. I often block the “can you send me a friend request” types, or strangers who post really rude or offensive things that I know I don’t want to encounter again.

Other people have different thresholds, which is their right. I am amused, however, when people I don’t know block me because we have a difference of opinion. That’s what happened to me yesterday afternoon. A friend from Gloucester is a nurse, and she shared a meme that was sadly very relevant today. See below:

This is so true…

In Germany, when you are sick or injured, you are expected to rest. Doctors even prescribe spa treatments here. Granted, from what I’ve heard, German doctors are a lot less free with pain medications. Even getting something like aspirin requires a visit to the Apotheke and a conversation with the pharmacist. But if you need some time for recuperation, you can have it. Vacation time is a lot more plentiful here.

My nurse friend from back home wrote that she’s seen patients in intensive care on Zoom calls for work… or something like that. Some people really have a hard time clocking out. My husband, Bill, is definitely one of those people. He’s taking time off this week, and I told him this morning that he needs to clock out, as he continually frets about what’s going on at his workplace. It’s ridiculous.

One of my friend’s friends wrote that he had lived in Europe for a few years and still thinks the United States is the best place in the world. I can no longer access what he posted, but I think his reasoning had to do with money.

I posted that I totally disagreed with him, adding that I live in Europe now and much prefer it to the United States. I wasn’t rude in what I wrote. I just calmly expressed an opinion. The guy came back with a disagreement– I could kind of tell that he thought I was full of shit.

So, I calmly reiterated that I like living in Germany. I’ve been here almost nine years this time, and I’m in no hurry to leave. I have just about everything here that I had in the United States, plus I don’t worry about being shot when I go to the store or attend a concert. And I also don’t worry about going bankrupt if I get sick or injured. I don’t have to worry about abortion access anymore, but if I needed help with that, I know I could get it, and it would be private. I wrote that the United States is less appealing now, as extremist politicians are trying to deny rights to half the population, and when you go out somewhere nowadays, there’s a good chance you’ll run into an entitled asshole. If you’re really unlucky, the asshole will be unhinged and carrying a weapon. I didn’t even actually use the word “asshole”, because I try not to curse on other people’s pages.

Next thing I knew, the guy blocked me.

I don’t have a problem with this, per se. I don’t even know the guy. He doesn’t seem like someone I’d want to know, anyway, if he can’t handle a calm disagreement with another person who simply has a different viewpoint. I don’t enjoy hanging around people who prefer to be in echo chambers and are afraid of differing opinions. I like to hear other people’s thoughts on most topics, because it helps me understand where they’re coming from. I may not always agree with their opinions, but sometimes their views give me food for thought. It’s hard to learn anything when you don’t want to listen to other opinions. Of course, there are a few people I can’t abide listening to, like Donald Trump and his biggest supporters. However, even though I hate listening to Trump, it’s necessary to listen to him, because he has so much power. God help us if he becomes president again. I doubt it will happen, but I didn’t think it would happen the first time.

Bill tells me that one of the things he likes most about me is the fact that I don’t have so much of a problem with being disliked. I often say things he doesn’t have the nerve to say. He’s a people pleaser. I am not a people pleaser. Sometimes, it does feel bad to be “disliked” or unpopular, but as I mentioned earlier this week, I seem to have a hard time behaving in a popular way. I’m not a “go along to get along” type of person. I am open and honest with my opinions, sometimes to the extent of being offensive to others. I don’t mean to offend, but I seem to do it anyway.

I think I prefer to be the way I am, even though it causes people to think IATA. I have seen where too much “people pleasing” can lead people. In Bill’s case, it meant almost ten years of marriage to a woman who abused him in all ways and left him broke and ostracized from his family. I don’t tend to attract people who behave like Ex. They are “turned off” by my less agreeable nature. It means I have fewer “friends”, but the friends I do have tend to be genuine, and of a higher quality. “Friends” don’t last long in my realm, because invariably, I’m going to say something outrageous, offensive, or contrary.

I don’t like to offend people, but being willing to be offensive means that I don’t get love bombed by people like Ex. I flat out told her we wouldn’t be friends. I know that offended her, but it also spared us both a lot of wasted time and heartache. To be clear, I might have tried to be friends with her if she wasn’t such an abusive person. But her sweet act is 100 percent bullshit. I know it. And I know that she won’t ever change. So, I basically told her, in more polite terms, to fuck off and leave me alone. It was a good strategy.

Because I’m like that, Bill reaps some of the benefits. He tells me I am fiercely protective of him. I guess I am… although he doesn’t need my protection. It’s just that I don’t mind pissing people off as much as he does. We’re like good cop/bad cop.

Another mutually beneficial relationship… I picture myself as the crocodile, and Bill as the plover.

Of course, I didn’t think my comments on the post about time off from work were that inflammatory. I like living in Germany. What’s wrong with that? Why are some Americans offended when fellow Americans disagree with the idea that our country is the best in the world? There’s a lot to dislike about the United States. I think when you live there, in the weird-o-rama culture, you don’t see it as plainly as you do when you leave it and live somewhere else for awhile. I can totally understand now why so many people who aren’t from the United States think Americans are entitled, insufferable, jerks. I didn’t necessarily feel that way when I lived in the USA, though… because it was all around me, and I was in it, too. Moving away helped me change my perspective, and my behavior. I can see why America seems amazing and awesome to a lot of people. I just don’t agree with that viewpoint myself, anymore.

Anyway… I know I could be writing about something more exciting. I need to wrap this up, though, because I think we might go do something interesting today… something outside of our village. So, I hope you enjoy your Friday and don’t alienate anyone. I am happy to report that Bill’s younger grandson is now one year old, and I managed to send him a birthday present that he likes. So, I guess I’m not 100 percent an asshole… 😉

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first world problems, travel

The big decision has now been made…

Again, cross-posted on the travel blog… The featured photo was taken on the car ferry from Denmark to Germany, back in 2019.

Yesterday, I wrote about my apprehension about booking a cruise. I termed it a “true first world problem.” Aye– as my Scottish ancestors would say– that it is. Twenty-four hours ago, as I was pondering whether or not I wanted to spend big bucks on a luxury cruise in the Baltic region, I started looking for alternatives.

A friend of mine had suggested touring the Norwegian fjords on Hurtigruten, which is, of course, a perfectly good suggestion. However, if I had decided to go for the fjords, that would have completely negated using the champagne bucket to choose where to go. The Norwegian fjords are a place I’d love to see the right way, and a cruise is probably the right way to go. But it wasn’t one of the choices for this particular trip. Moreover, I never asked for alternative suggestions.

I still decided to look into the Norwegian fjords experience and found that besides Hurtigruten, there’s another line that does cruises along the fjords. Maybe at some point we’ll pull the trigger on that. I did look into short cruises in Norway for the days we’ll be there, but they aren’t very convenient to our plans.

After a short while, I stopped researching travel possibilities, and turned my attention to my guitar, which badly needed new strings. I don’t play it so often that I routinely change the strings. But, it had gotten to the point at which I had forgotten when I had last changed them. The old ones were starting to get discolored, and weren’t staying tuned well. So, as much as I hate changing the strings, but love the results of changing them, once they stretch, I knew it was a job that urgently needed doing. I had just put one string on when my phone rang.

It was someone from Regent Seven Seas Cruises calling. I felt confident in answering, since I knew Bill was already agreeable to my booking the cruise, once we confirmed the correct price. The cruise specialist, whose name is Andrea, is from Germany. She thought I was German too, and was speaking German to me, even though I had made contact in English. I didn’t realize it, but the voicemail on my phone is in German… No one ever calls me, so I didn’t know. I thought the call was coming from Germany, but actually, it was a U.S. based call that somehow looked like it came from Germany.

Andrea and I got to talking, and it turns out she lives in Florida, which is where Regent is based. She’s been there since 1991. I always find myself bonding with Germans in the U.S., since I’m an American in Germany. As we discussed the cruise, we talked about how we ended up in each other’s countries. In many ways, Germany is kind of like the U.S., but I find that the U.K. feels more like home to me than Germany does, even though people drive on the other side of the road and kids wear uniforms to school.

Andrea said that my request went to her, because I am in Germany. She handles all clients from Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, even though she’s based in Florida. It was still very early in the morning where she lives when we were talking– maybe 5:30AM! Nevertheless, she was wide awake and friendly. I guess she’s a morning person like Bill is. All of our documents are in German. Andrea says there’s nothing she can do about that, since I’m in Germany. Google Chrome will save us, I’m sure…

It didn’t take long for Andrea to sell me on Regent. I put a deposit on the cruise. I would have just paid for the whole thing, since the cruise is coming up in June, but I used my credit card with a lower limit, and the whole cruise costs more than the limit is. I used that card rather than the other one, because I knew it was less likely to get declined for “suspicious activity”. Both of my cards usually have zero balances. I rarely use them because it took me forever to pay them off when we were less affluent. The deposit didn’t raise any red flags, which made me feel confident.

Bill got home later and I proposed booking the flights. I was thinking of flying into Stavanger or Bergen, since we had never been to either of those beautiful towns, and we have been to Oslo. But it turned out there weren’t any flights that worked with boarding Noyzi and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Like… there was an attractive flight that would have worked, except it left at 10:30AM, and that wasn’t enough time to get Noyzi to the Hundepension and get ourselves checked in at the airport. So, Oslo it is…

I had no idea that Norway’s cities were so far apart. Stavanger looks like it’s not that far from Oslo, but it’s a seven or eight hour car ride or train trip. Bergen, likewise, is hours away by car or train. There are cheap flights available, and we may decide to avail ourselves of one, just so we can get a feel for a city other than Oslo. But, we did also enjoy visiting Oslo when we were there in 2009, and that was at a time when we had a lot less money.

Oslo is also closer to Stockholm, which is where we will be meeting the ship. We haven’t seen anything in Stockholm except the cruise port, which is where our first Baltic cruise in 2009 ended. It was a four night “short break” on Royal Caribbean, and we started in Oslo and stopped in Tallin and Copenhagen, then ended in Stockholm. We couldn’t enjoy the city, because Bill had a conference in Garmisch-Partenkirchen the next day. So, we hopped a plane to Munich. I spent the next week taking tours out of the Edelweiss MWR Lodge while Bill tended to his Army duties. We had flown to Oslo from Munich, and when we got back to the parking garage, the car battery was dead, necessitating a call to ADAC. Plus, our bags didn’t make the flight, and had to be brought to us in Garmisch.

This time, we will end in Copenhagen, a city we’ve been to twice, but haven’t had much of a chance to really enjoy. The first time, it was on that short cruise, that only allowed a few hours in town. The second time was in 2019, when we were passing through on our way home with our new car and stopped for a night of rest as we continued onward to Rostock, Germany. This trip will at least give us a full day to enjoy Denmark. We’ll spend a couple of nights there before coming home on July 2.

So, off I went to Lufthansa to book our flights, after confirming with Bill which ones we wanted. I input all of the information, then tried to use my trusty credit card to pay. Sure enough, it was declined. I called up PenFed and explained that I was trying to book my vacation. I should have probably asked them to raise the limit on that card, too. Maybe next time I call…

The tickets are now booked. All I have to do now is decide on hotels in Norway and Denmark and maybe book transportation to Stockholm. A flight from Oslo takes an hour, but a train is much more scenic and is about five hours of fun. 😉 Oh… and I also need to choose excursions and restaurant reservations for the cruise, since they are included in the fare.

It’s hard to believe, just a few days ago, I was agonizing over all of this. It’s all coming together now, like magic. I wasn’t planning to do a cruise, but this may turn out to be a bit of a Godsend. If it turns out we really love any of the places we see, we can come back and do a land based tour, as I originally planned. They are now building a railway in the Baltics that will make it a lot easier to travel there. And I do want to go and spend more than a few hours. We already know we like Tallinn from our 2009 trip, and Bill enjoyed Riga when he went.

I know… first world problem, and maybe I should be ashamed of myself for writing about it. But, at least this isn’t a cranky complaint post about politics or similarly unpleasant topics.

For those who are curious, here’s a video highlighting the ship we’re going to be on. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s not like you don’t get a lot for the money. This is also not our usual style. We normally prefer much smaller ships, and that generally means the ships we’re on are usually much older. Splendor was built in 2020. Hebridean Princess, by contrast, was built in 1964 as a car ferry and later became a cruise ship in 1989. SeaDream I was built in 1984. I think Vision of the Seas is 1998 vintage, and I’m not even sure if it’s still in service.

A new experience for us… revisiting the region where we had our very first cruise. This time, we’re taking more time and spending way more money!
We booked a Concierge Suite.

Again, I chose this entirely for the itinerary, and the fact that it’s an all inclusive cruise. I’m not a Regent cheerleader, and I’m not sure we’ll give up small ships for this. But then again, maybe we will. We won’t know until we actually have the experience. At least now, I’ll have something new to write about on the travel blog!

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animals, communication, condescending twatbags, dogs, healthcare, overly helpful people, social media, Virginia

Some people have forgotten how to be civilized…

I had a couple of interesting communication related experiences yesterday. One involved an online exchange I had with a stranger. The other involved an observation I made in a matter of seconds as I passed a playground.

A few days ago, I noticed that someone on Facebook had written that they had been born just as smartphones were coming on the market. They wanted to know what life was like before smartphones were invented, as they were thinking of ditching their phone. I noticed one person wrote that we all watched a lot more television in those days, which I will agree is true.

It occurred to me, after I read that person’s post, that I spent a large portion of my life without the Internet. When I was growing up, we had to talk to each other in person. While I definitely had some uncivilized moments back in those primitive days, I also think I learned basic decorum that some people are missing in today’s hyper-connected Internet world.

We used to have to talk to each other in person, or maybe write a letter. We had no email, Facebook, or Twitter. Our circles of contacts were much smaller than they are today. Consequently, most days, we didn’t find ourselves in a pissing match with a stranger. Last night, I found myself being invited to such a match… and after it was over, my head was spinning! How did I get to this place?

Two days ago, The Atlantic shared an article titled “When Did People Start Brushing Dogs’ Teeth?“. It was an interesting piece about how, in the past, most people didn’t clean their dogs’ teeth. Nowadays, veterinarians encourage dog owners to use canine toothpaste and toothbrushes and have their dogs’ teeth professionally cleaned. The author of the article, Kelly Conaboy, married her personal experiences as a dog owner with somewhat recent history. She wrote:

The supposed ease of the finger brush is an attractive prospect for those facing both a new daily task and a new source of guilt. My friend and I both are dog guardians for the first time in our adult lives, but we agreed that, growing up, we didn’t remember being told to brush our family dogs’ teeth, nor did we remember thinking it was a task we were neglecting. We didn’t even remember ever seeing dog toothbrushes or dog toothpaste for sale. My friend looked into my eyes and asked a question I could tell she’d been mulling for some time.

“Were we always supposed to brush our dogs’ teeth?”

I grew up in the 80s, and we had dogs during that time. I don’t remember the vet ever telling us to brush our dogs’ teeth. Hell, my very first paying job was working for that very same vet. The subject never came up during that time.

Years later, when Bill and I were newly married and had moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, our “higher speed” Northern Virginia vet recommended dental care. Our dog at that time, Flea, really needed a dental in the worst way. We couldn’t afford to have his teeth cleaned until Bill went to Iraq, and we got a temporary boost in his pay. While Bill was deployed, I had Flea’s and his sidekick, MacGregor’s, teeth cleaned. I believe it was about $1100 for the two of them. Flea lost four teeth; they just fell out of his mouth. Miraculously, we weren’t charged for that.

Our finances are much better nowadays, so our dogs do get routine dentals done. I have tried to brush their teeth, but my dogs have never been too cooperative with that particular chore. Arran was particularly resistant to things like toenail trims and teeth brushing. Still, I can see the value in doing it regularly, if your dog will allow it. And now, dentals are a must, even though we didn’t used to do them.

Conaboy’s article is very interesting, as she explains that yes, we probably should have been brushing our dogs’ teeth all along. But, you only know what you know. As time passes, most people become more knowledgeable and wiser about things. So, if you didn’t know about the importance of doggie dentistry in the 80s, you might know now, right? Know better, do better (as much as I hate that cliche).

The Facebook reactions to that post ranged between approval and mockery. Lots of people assume canine dental hygiene is just a scam to help vets pay off their student loans. For the life of me, I can’t understand why so many people would begrudge veterinarians making money so they can pay their bills. Some people act like everyone should work for free, as they also lament communism and people expecting things “for free”. Even if doggie dentistry was a money making “scam”, why would people in a capitalist society have a problem with that? If you don’t want to get your dog’s teeth cleaned, no one is forcing you. It’s just a recommended service.

Personally, I’m a believer in doggie dentals. Noyzi had his first one last summer and is due for another. We just need to make the arrangements. Arran really needed one before he passed, but obviously, it wouldn’t have been wise to put him under anesthesia.

I decided to comment on the article. I do not think what I wrote was at all controversial.

Imagine how you’d feel if you didn’t clean your teeth. I don’t brush my dog’s teeth daily, but he gets regular dentals. It helps prevent chronic diseases and makes his breath stink less. 

They’re paying a lot more attention to horses’ teeth, too. Call it progress.

I got maybe 19 likes for my comment. Cool, huh? But then someone named Laurie wrote this seemingly snarky comment to me. And it wasn’t about canine dentals, but about my comment regarding horses.

horses get their teeth filed once a year to remove rough edges. Believe me, nobody is brushing horses’ teeth!

I was surprised by her response, because nowhere did I make a statement indicating that horses’ teeth are being brushed. I wrote that they’re “paying more attention to” them (which they are). So I responded.

I didn’t say they were brushing horses’ teeth, I said they were paying more attention to them (aka floating them).

Laurie comes back, tagging me with a link to a National Geographic article about Mongolian horse dentistry that’s been around for hundreds of years.

I probably should have just left it alone, but this is a phenomenon that genuinely puzzles me. Lately, I feel like people are just waiting for a reason to come at other people with criticism or discounting comments. I didn’t get the sense that Laurie was trying to be helpful or conversational. It felt like she was trying to pick a fight, although it’s possible that I took her comment as more aggressive than it was intended to be. So I wrote:

Is there a reason why you’re picking on me? What is so controversial about what I posted? I don’t need a link from National Geographic. It’s not that important.

Laurie wisely (or perhaps cowardly) didn’t respond again. I honestly didn’t see why she needed to confront me about my first comment regarding horse dental care. I grew up around horses, and I know for a fact that, back in the day, veterinarians didn’t routinely float their teeth unless there was a specific need for it. The procedure did exist, but it wasn’t like an appointment with the farrier every six weeks. It was only done when it was clearly necessary.

I don’t spend time with horses anymore, but I do know that nowadays, equine vets are floating a lot more teeth than they used to, just like today’s small animal vets are doing a lot more dentals. That was my point. Did Laurie miss the point? Because I never claimed anything about horses getting their teeth brushed. I even wrote that my dog doesn’t get his teeth brushed, even though I probably should see if he’ll let me do it (Arran wouldn’t, so I never got into the habit). The main idea of my comment is that companion animals need dental care, too, not that every animal should get daily tooth brushing.

Laurie probably didn’t read the article, because it’s behind a paywall. She probably also didn’t read my initial comment very carefully before she decided to respond. I took a peek at her profile. There’s a picture of her riding a horse in what appears to be three day eventing. So she’s a “horse person”. I also see that she lives in Clifton, Virginia, which is a Northern Virginia suburb. I spent several years of my life living in Northern Virginia, so I have personal experience with the stereotypical type of person who tends to live there. I’ve also been around plenty of “snotty” horse people who have more money than brains or class.

Certainly not every person from NoVA is an asshole; but there are probably a lot more assholes per capita living in that area, than there are in other places. They can’t really help it. Northern Virginia is a place where it costs a lot to live, there’s a lot of traffic, and many people have powerful jobs. Based on her profile, Laurie appears to be a “somebody”, and since she’s involved in an expensive sport in an area where it costs a lot to live, she’s probably a bit of an asshole. I don’t know for certain, of course. We’re complete strangers. There was a time when I never would have had a conversation of any kind with Laurie, unless I happened to meet her at a horse event. But, since I don’t ride horses anymore, the chances of that ever happening would be pretty slim.

For all I know, offline, Laurie is a total sweetheart, but based on our unfortunate interaction yesterday, I came away with the impression that she’s kind of a bitch. She may feel the same way about me, because I didn’t just acquiesce or ignore her when she crawled up my ass about the intricacies of equine dental care. Instead, I pointed out that I never claimed people were brushing their horses’ teeth. Then I confronted her for “picking on me”. That, in and of itself, is probably annoying to her. She probably didn’t expect me to confront her in kind about her comment. But then, I was genuinely perplexed as to why she felt the need to bust my chops about my original statement. There was nothing snarky or rude about it, yet Laurie felt compelled to issue a “gotcha”. And I, in turn, felt compelled to call her out for trying to do that.

It was a rather uncivilized and unnecessary exchange, wasn’t it? It occurred to me that Laurie wasn’t coming at me from a place of friendship or cordiality. She was wanting to issue a correction, without knowing a thing about me, and apparently, after not having read very carefully.

I understand that most people wouldn’t think twice about this interaction. Some people may be reading this thinking that I’m neurotic for taking the time to write about it. The truth is, I AM a bit neurotic. That exchange happened to hit one of my “psychological sunburns” (as the damnable Dr. Phil would put it). My whole life, people have been telling me to “shut up”, discounting my opinions or experiences, laughing at me, or otherwise trying to belittle me for just being myself. As a middle aged person, I am no longer willing to just let things go. I probably should be more laid back than I am, but ignoring these types of people, who try to make themselves feel better by crapping on me, makes me feel helpless. So now, people who do what Laurie did– especially when they’re overbearing women– tend to get the business end of my retorts.

Something similar happened the day after we lost Arran. I posted about it. A troll on RfM left me a really mean comment about Arran. I confronted the troll, and promptly got a “talking to” from “Lot’s Wife”, a poster who seems to insert herself in every controversy and offer her fifty cents. “Lot’s Wife” is a person I’ve come to really dislike, and she’s a reason why I don’t really visit RfM much anymore. She reminds me a lot of an “overly helpful” person I used to run into regularly. And now that I think about it, all women who treat me that way remind me of one of my sisters, who used to criticize me for everything from the way I look, to the way I laugh. I’m sure these types are battling their own neuroses and psychological sunburns, but then their neuroses seem to bump into mine! I guess I can, at least, turn these interactions into thoughtful blog rants, right?

The main thing is, though… most of these people probably wouldn’t behave this way offline. Or, if they did behave this way, they’d probably tone it down significantly. It’s a lot harder to be aggressive, or even assertive, to people who are staring you in the face. Laurie also probably wouldn’t have misunderstood my comment if we’d been talking to each other in person. We both would have had non-verbal cues to guide us and inform our responses. It probably wouldn’t have been nearly as negative an interaction.

I miss in person interactions with normal, nice people. It seems like the older I get, the less often I interact with actual people, rather than online profiles. And the pandemic made things worse, and eroded people’s social skills, including mine. I wrote about that last year, when Bill and I got our COVID-19 vaccine boosters and I was super cranky because we got to the site too early. I found myself feeling less “nice” when someone in person witnessed our exchange and chimed in “helpfully”. I probably wouldn’t have reacted that way in the past, when I had more practice talking to people in person.

And now… on to the observation I made while passing a German playground…

Yesterday, it was cold and sunny outside. I took Noyzi for a short walk. As I passed the little playground in our neighborhood, I happened to witness something that struck me as rather profound.

There were about two dozen little kids on the playground. I think there might have been two or three adults supervising them. A little girl, maybe four or five years old, fell down. She started crying, and didn’t immediately scramble to her feet. Instead, she laid on the ground wailing for a moment.

The adults did not come running, as they might have in the United States. Instead, another little girl, maybe the same age or a little older, came over to the kid on the ground, offered her her hand, and helped her to her feet. The first girl stopped crying and slowly got back to playing with her friends, running around the playground. The entire incident took less than a minute or two, and yet the simple civility of it blew me away on several levels.

First of all, when I was that age, I don’t remember being supervised that closely on a playground that wasn’t attached to a school. We kids would go to the playground, but there wouldn’t necessarily be any adults around to watch us. Sometimes there were, sometimes there weren’t.

Secondly, when I was a kid and something like that happened on the playground, I don’t remember other kids coming over to help the fallen kid to their feet. More often than not, they’d just stand around and laugh. I didn’t see any kids laughing at the girl who fell down, but in my day, I’m sure they would have. At least, if they were American kids. Today, an American adult supervising the children would have probably run over to the girl to see if she was alright, but in my day, we were pretty much expected to get over it by ourselves, as appears to be the case in Germany.

What the little girl did yesterday struck me as remarkably mature and civilized. I’ve noticed a lot of that kind of basic civility in Germany. Like, for instance, the time I was forced to stand on a train leaving the Frankfurt Airport while holding curry wurst. The train lurched, and I almost fell, which would have caused me to spill the snack all over the place. A German lady very calmly grabbed the curry wurst before I ended up wearing it. My first reaction was annoyance, but then I was grateful. It really was a kind and thoughtful thing to do. Her reaction was to be helpful, rather than critical or mocking. I’m sad to say, I don’t see this instinct as much among Americans, especially online.

I’ve even noticed this among Germans online. When the dog we hoped to rescue in 2020 got loose and we were trying to find him, I noticed many Germans were happily sharing our Tasso flyer. Very few were writing mean comments about how irresponsible I was after the dog escaped his pet taxi. I even got some really kind private messages from strangers that were genuinely helpful and consoling.

Conversely, I feel like Americans often just want to tear people down, especially when the other person is a stranger. Or they’re “fake nice”, as they’re ripping each other to shreds privately.

This doesn’t mean that all Germans are mature or polite. I’ve been yelled at plenty of times by Germans in person. It’s just that I’ve found that most people here seem more willing to see other perspectives and they don’t immediately react with snark or rudeness when someone has a different viewpoint. I feel like more people here are more likely to offer a hand to help someone up, rather than pointing and laughing at them. But, of course, some exceptions apply. See any story about my ex landlady. 😉

Anyway… just some deep food for thought on Wednesday, which is a light chore day for me. I guess my interaction with Laurie the veterinary dental expert is proof that virtually ANYTHING can be controversial on the Internet.

Carry on…

ETA: This morning, I woke up to find a notification from Laurie. I chose to ignore it. 😀

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