The myth of a punctual German

Dont-Be-Late-600x435I had to deal a lot with Germans the last three or four years. One thing I could not help noticing is that they are never on time. Well, no, that’s an exaggeration, of course, sometimes they are punctual but that “sometimes” is actually such a rare happenstance that it becomes exceptional on the common background of everyone being late nearly all the time.

Where did the myth of German punctuality come from? Were they actually punctual some time in the past? I do not know. What I know is that I came to expect a person from any other place on Earth to be more punctual than your average German.

People often say to me that “look, but their trains run perfectly on schedule, the buses are on time!” Well, those only run punctually because they have (technically) a lot of leeway. The buses and trains and whatever not runs on time (and sometimes ahead of time) simply because they have a large margin built into the schedule. They go, basically, half the speed most of the time, making the transport sluggish and inefficient. Compared to the Japanese transport system the German trains make one yawn.

And the trains are not people. People do not leave themselves leeway. They simply run late. All of them. All the time. Business partners, colleagues, doctors, teachers, police, homeowners and waiters. All of them make each other wait. Every day. All the time. The whole country.