Friday, January 7, 2011

"How Many Germans Does it Take To ...

... to buy a bottle of wine?"
Answer: 2 hours - or so my sister-in-law says. (Entered tonight on Facebook as her status)
How long would you take to choose a package of coffee, for instance, or a bottle of wine?

An important point to start; we're not really Germans, at least not like the ones who live in Germany.  I like to think we're kind of breed of our own. You're probably wondering who "we" are.  That's my family.  We don't like to rush things.  We like rushing much less than any other Canadians, or even Germans, I've ever met.  Germans are relentlessly punctual.  We are not; that would require hurrying.

My wife, who has learned to do everything quickly, has been quite frustrated by this point.  While my sisters-in-law have been similarly frustrated with my brothers, my wife is in a different category, since she comes from a place where almost everyone does almost everything fast.  Mexicans in general aren't rushed people, but in Mexico City in particular, people learn to do everything really quickly.  Most of the population eats no breakfast, or if the do, it's eaten on the run.  From the moment people wake up till get out the door can be a matter of minutes; heavy traffic and a fast-paced life requires you to make the most of your precious sleep hours, not wasting them to get up early and sit down for a meal.

(In contrast to everything that doctors here say about beans, coffee and chili, I believe this is one of the major causes of gastritis, since people don't eat properly until well into the afternoon, and then they eat greasy Mexican fast food - very tasty mind you; read Vitamin T - The Mexican Special for more info.)

She was in disbelief the first time she saw me get up in the morning, and, after my shower, take an hour and a half to prepare a full breakfast and sit down to eat it.  She thought it must have been because I was on holidays.  Little did she know that this wasn't slow at all.

The first time we went to Canada to visit my family, she was in similar disbelief when she saw my younger brother take 10 minutes to measure the coffee into the filter.  She later told me she felt an almost overwhelming urge to take the coffee away from him and do it herself.  She also said that she finally understood a little more about me, realizing that this was much more than a bad habit.

Members of my family, myself included, do take their time to do just about everything we can take our time to do.  Having to rush through something can be as frustrating for us as it is for our wives to have to watch us do it slowly.

On the other hand, my wife really does enjoy the results when I take my time to do things right.  When we make our own sandwiches, she has her sandwich ready in about 2 minutes.  Mine will take a bit longer (she claims 15 minutes - I thinks it's a little closer to 5-10, but at least 3 times as long as she does, in any case.)  However, when she sees my sandwich, she looks at hers, if anything is left of it, with disappointment on her face, feeling that mine just looks that much tastier.  I used to always end up giving her my sandwich (or whatever it was I had prepared) and making myself another one.  Now I've learned to ignore whatever she says, and just make two in the first place.

She also likes the the coffee & cinnamon hot chocolate I make from scratch; it's much slower than her instant chocolate milk, but 100 times better.  She doesn't have the patients to do stuff like that, as much as she likes it.

Some things she can't appreciate.  Like taking 15 minutes to choose the right kind of coffee.  Or, in the case of my brothers, an hour to choose the right wine or beer. Clearly my sister-in-law can't appreciate the delicacy of this kind of choice either!

I don't know if my sisters-in-law are fast people (faster than average) or if just being average is enough to be really frustrated with my family.  But I know that my wife is really from a pace of life that is much faster than normal.  For her, my pace of doing things was just unreal.  The same vice-versa.

We balance each other.  Sometimes she sits down to watch me do stuff, as though it's a show.  Other times she hurries me up.  Just as often, I slow her down.  In this way, we're perfect for each other.

For other contrasts between my wife and me, read:


  1. I would have to say I'm a fast paced person. I don't spend 15 min making coffee but I measure the beans everytime. (8 min)

  2. I don't think the real problem was measuring the beans; it was the speed at which they were measured. That having been said, my wife doesn't measure things. She uses a "tantoemetro" which means dump it in until it looks good. I've heard others from Mexico City use this phrase, and it seems to be an idea connected to the "do it quickly" mentality. As you'd guess, not an idea I really like; in this case, also completely contrary to what's "typically" German.

  3. I think Richard has a fair amount of "slow-German" in him too. The first time he made a meal for me, it took him 2 hours. I have no clue why it took so long because it was steak, lol!

  4. I guess "Ukrainians" know that too.