How to be German? Top 5 steps!

Step 3 Stick to the rules

If you’re been to the cinema here, you’ll know the seats come in two types and prices – neckache and non-neckache. Neckache is the first rows from the front, and to be at the back you’ve got to pay more. I’ve not seen tiered seat pricing in other countries. It’s a pretty horrible system when you consider that instead of just watching the film on your laptop, in your bed, you’ve gone to the effort of putting on your coat and shoes, leaving the house, going all the way to the cinema to pay to sit in an icy cold, dark room to watch a movie that won’t even end properly with a nice conclusive “happy ever after” like it did in the old days, because now everything has to be a trilogy, and then a prequel trilogy, and so on until you notice it, you’re sitting down to watch Spiderman 417. Really cinemas should pay you for making all the effort to actually visit them, rather than charging you extra to sit in the back, but I’ve wandered off my original point…

Why I really like going to movies is because it’s one of the rare times I have the pleasure of watching my German girlfriend break a rule. For a fleeting moment we’re not our normal lame selves, but are transformed into retentive, suitably depressed, tax paying Bonnie and Clydes. Why? Because we never pay for the expensive seats. But we always sit in them. Feel free to be greatly shocked now…

In the beginning, it was not easy to coax her to the back. In fact, she flat out refused. There was a system. Germans respect rules and systems, which is the point of this step and what you must learn. In this case, it’s a very capitalistic system, but a system and the rule nonetheless. A rule the majority of Germans follow. I have no doubt that if the average German entered a Kinosaal to find it completely empty, except for one other person who was sitting in their prescribed seat, they’d checked their ticket five times, and then asked them to move.

Then I came up with a plan. When asked where I would like to sit by the ticket seller or when reserving online, I began picking the far left corner of the front row, which annoys her so much, she’s willing to break the rules and come with me to the back in a premium seat. It does result in me getting hit several times, which I consider merely an acceptable cost of doing nefarious business. She accompanied me to the back with great trepidation. As if we were not merely defrauding the cinema of couple of euros, but defrauding the European Central Bank of millions in an elaborate heist involving safe crackers, gymnastic midgets and exploding pens. Once seated at the back, she refuses to relax until about half way through the movie when she’s absolutely certain the seats we’re in will not be claimed by any rightful owner.

Until then she visibly squirms in her contraband seat every time the doors open, looks in genuine physical pain, and repeatedly says “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you”. I am not sure what she means by that. I’ve no time to think about it, since I’m busy staring straight ahead and enjoying the movie from our vastly superior and neckache-free seats.


The text is an excerpt of the Adam Feltscher’s “How to be German book“. Published in VOX blog by a kind permission of the author and the publisher.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s