I asked my friend Jurg which word in German he thought was the best. His answer was immediate and totally awesome: Ordnung.
Ordnung basically means order. It’s the concept from which nearly all German stereotypes originate — and it’s real. So consider this an introduction to a concept that is sure pop up frequently on this site.
Everyday I see ordnung manifest itself in hilarious ways. For instance I found myself standing at an intersection with maybe eight other people waiting for the light to change. I snapped out of my trance and noticed that the intersection was closed to traffic due to construction. I “boldly” strode across the deserted street. Three of the remaining eight cautiously followed my lead.
Unlike some ex-pats living here, nothing about that scene annoys me. I love order! It’s made Germany the economic powerhouse of Europe and it prevents chaos, corruption, mayhem and genoci…. shoplifting. What’s kind of strange is how automatic this adherence to order is. Robotic, as my friend says. It is clear that Germans have been conditioned from an early age to behave in a way that respects the rules. But how do you condition kids to subscribe to ordnung?
Spielplatz die Straßenverkehrssicherheit! Road safety playgrounds.
Several parks near my crib have the usual assortment of swings and shit, but a few also have these mini road courses, with mini cars, geared at instilling the rules and virtues of road safety into their little Prussian brains. I just love this. Germans, order, kindergarten, and cars. It’s like (almost) everything Germany is famous for rolled into 50 sq. metres of pavement, paint and traffic cones.
Here are some pictures of one such playground. They’re not great. I probably should have asked someone if I could take pictures before entering because the staff got a little amber alert when I got out my camera. But once I explained that I was impressed with the course they let me continue as long as I didn’t take pictures of any kids. Fair.
Also, for anyone who listens to The Adam Carolla Podcast (the most popular podcast on earth), this lends some credence to his ongoing assertion that some societies (Germans are his favourite example) just value good driving more than others.