05 October 2015

Rude and Elderly

Sometimes, I see elderly people here in Berlin who just does things that make my head shake. You know, one would expect rude behavior to come from young folks who haven't been properly socialized yet, but sometimes, rudeness can actually come from the elderly, who seem to act like they have a huge sense of entitlement. I have seen so many instances of these from elderly people here in Germany, that I really think something is up.

Once, I was in the subway. An elderly person with a cane walked in. The places next to the door are typically assigned for elderly and handicapped people, as there is a sticker above these seats indicating a cross. There were plenty of seats otherwise, and this elderly person was also mobile, even though she had a cane. Now, there were two passengers sitting on these priority seats. They were both looking at their phones, so they didn't see the elderly woman. The elderly woman stood in front of them and waited for a few seconds, and when nothing happened, she shook her head and made a very audible smirk. Then she just walked beyond and sat at one of the several open spaces in the middle of the carriage.

Now here I was thinking, was it really hard to say "Excuse me? I'd like to sit there."? Or did the elderly person really expect that everyone around her is omniscient and that everyone will know and see that she is an elderly person who needs that first seat, even though she is by all means capable of walking the extra two steps to reach the empty middle seats in the subway carriage?

The funny thing is, I rarely hear elderly people say "Excuse me" here. Most of the time, they just act like you earthling young ones should know already that we elderly exist, and that we should have the right of way.

The other day, there was this elderly woman who wanted to cut the line in the farmer's market. We were patiently waiting for our turn, and when it was supposed to be our turn, this elderly person just went ahead in front of us saying she wanted this basket of strawberries. When confronted, she feigned ignorance and said that she thought someone was already attending to us. I guess she just really wanted to buy those strawberries and she couldn't wait any longer.

When I was in Stralsund two years ago, I saw a group of elderly people waiting for the bus to arrive. I was waiting with them, and when the bus arrived, oh my God, they just surged in, like a flood. In fact, they surged in so hard that someone was pushed, a fellow elderly person, and a small fight ensued. Elderly against elderly. And we young ones just stood back and watched.

Funny, sometimes, I see things here which makes me wonder whether German folks lose their manners as they age. It's like growing up, but in reverse. The more they age, the more they act like little children. So bizarre.


  1. I'm very guilty of not checking if someone needs a seat in the bus. I don't usually pick the front seats just in case, but if I'm reading or checking my phone on long trips, I could easily not see an elderly person. So yeah, I'd rather someone to ask nicely or even just say "excuse me...?"

    1. Zhu,

      Exactly. Saying excuse me won't hurt at all. Yet I have this feeling that most people don't even want to say that, and instead expect everyone to be aware of their surroundings.