Germans Are On Time…Except When They’re Not
Germans are sticklers for time. This, you can tell, by the prevalence of clocks everywhere. No matter where you walk, it’s likely you’ll see a clock proudly displaying its hands as if to say: “Be on time!” This is a mantra Germans live by, except, of course, when they don’t.
See, the whole idea you may have about Germans and timeliness is likely to be shattered within a few days of being here. Culturally, it’s safe to say that people still generally keep appointments punctual; if it’s a business meeting, this is especially important. But unlike Japan, where people are on time but so are trains and other services, Germany hasn’t quite followed suit.
I’ve taken Deutsche Bahn trains several times to connect between cities here, and I don’t think I’ve arrived at my scheduled time yet. Granted, it’s not likely you’ll get to your destination too late—delays of 20 or 30 minutes are the norm—but it was certainly counter to what I expected upon arriving here. In the case of the trains, a comedy of errors have been the culprit for DB in recent years, ranging from axel problems to lax track maintenance to disgruntled employees.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not advising you to come here and ignore any concept of punctuality. I just think that it’s about time Germans reconsider the seemingly national sense of pride they display in regards to timeliness, as these days it is more myth than reality.