Do Germans like Surprises?

When I arrived in Montréal a few months ago I had one friend: Anna. Wonderful as she is, I wanted to meet more people, so I attended a few CouchSurfing Events.* I’ve done some CouchSurfing elsewhere in the world, where you always get a good mix of nationalities, so I was pretty shocked that in Montreal about half the CouchSurfers are from France. Since coming to Québec allows French people to experience the greater world without having to debase themselves by learning some other language (like English, qui n’est que du français mal prononcé), the French are grossly overrepresented  in Montréal. This wasn’t a problem for me, since I adore the French (especially when I get to spread lies about their lack of language skills on the internet), so I was already half-way to friendship heaven.

 Add to this a mélange français a fair number of Mexicans, Spaniards, Germans, Berlgian, I’m-not-Chinese-I’m-Taiwanesian, and a Greko-Canadian etc etc, and you get a veritable petit groupe d’amis.

Jesús’s Surprise

Last week we shocked Mexican Jesús (who is convinced I’m named Amy), by throwing him a surprise party in Parc Lafontaine. Thoroughly pleased with the result and the ensuing happiness, we aimed to recreate the fun this week with yet another surprise for German Carolyn’s birthday, except this time with more nudity and a piñata.

We were all rather excited until Brazilian Antonio pondered whether Germans actually like being shocked, asking if we should “tell her to schedule some time in her agenda for the surprise?”

And so I consulted the ever  useful Xenophobe’s Guide to the Germans to find out if Germans actually like surprises, though the results are rather inconclusive:

“The Germans do not care for public displays of eccentricity,” and also, “In Germany, life is serious. Even humour is no laughing matter, and if you want to tell a joke you may want to submit a written application first. The Germans strongly disapprove of the irrelevant, the flippant, the accidental. Serendipity is not a word in their language.”  

 Unfazed, and having already convinced Simon to undress and enter a giant gift box, we went ahead with our plans last night. And here’s what I learned:

The question isn’t whether German’s like surprises, but whether you can actually surprise one of them.

Upon seeing the gift box, Caro immediately declared: “I bet someone is going to jump out of there,” which I’m sure was a little disappointing for Simon, who was crouched inside wearing nothing but a tie and a smile.

Also, we had planned to surprise Caro at her apartment after a concert at the Olympic Stadium, but before we had even left she began inviting people over to her house anyway, meaning she was already expecting most of us to be there. Then she proceeded to bicycle home like a maniac, beating half of us there. Entreaties to “Slow down Mädchen” were ignored, and I am disappointed to say I’ve never seen a German race through so many red lights in an effort to spoil a week’s worth of her friends’ careful planning.

Do German’s like surprises? I have no idea. A Canadian-Italian-Spanish-Swiss-Belgian-French-Taiwanese group proved incapable of out-organizing one.

Caro was however thrilled by the whole evening (which she insists she didn’t expect). For her birthday I gave her the right to brag that she can bicycle much faster than I can, which is probably true anyway.

Ende gut, alles gut?

*CouchSurfing is a social networking site that allows travellers to get to know locals, either by crashing at their place or simply by meeting up for drinks or sightseeing. It’s totally free and based on reciprocity: I hang out with people in Montreal and they will host me when I, inevitably, end up in Istanbul, Sydney or Caracas one day.

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4 Responses

  1. Ha, those meticulous people!

    p.s. we should hang out when I’m back in town! Of course, that will inevitably happen when school starts…

  2. Very nice post Emily, and congratulations since, as a member of this crew, I should admit that you depict the ambient atmosphere quite well !

    And please, as a complement, allow me to add one or 2 points, in order someone to take the defense of these poor offended german guys 😉

    Foremost, we have to take in consideration that Caro is someone smiling 99% of the time, even when she’s sad (which actually obviously never happens..).
    So, it actually becomes very difficult to make her smile more than smiling – u get my point ;/ ?

    Furthermore, I just asked her (she’s currently just cooking her tomorrow’s lunch in front of me) and she swore me – right hand up – that she was not expecting anything at all, adding at the same time that she just planned to celebrate her birthday the day after.

    “So, in that case Caro, why were you bicycling so fast Caro? Hattest du hunger ??”

    => “Nein, actually, the guys were so slow on their bikes that it was just impossible for me not to go faster”.

    Yes, we have to understand that german people like to go fast, straight forward, as true as es ist sehr Deutsch to be ultra-organized and to always go ahead (even too much, most of the time – I just shared 3 months with a nice german guy who is totally aware of this).

    Conclusion: Never draw conclusions based on german’s face, because… we never know what they think… 😉

  3. hahaha, I am the shocked guy in the picture. I really loved this post “Amy”!!

  4. you must be a capricorn… are you?

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