Indiscretion and chattiness – indeed, those are the most objectionable traits nowadays. To be sure, Germans are normally accused of humorlessness. And since the German middle classes, the “mainstream,” have lately become accustomed to pre-empt and amplify every criticism from outsiders, they have, for quite a while now, been the loudest in denouncing their own humorlessness.There's not a thing on earth the stupid educated masses in this country nowadays fear as much as being accused of doing something that's "typically German." Not realizing that their tense attempts at being as easy-going as the Italians may be a wee bit self-defeating, they have swept away all the virtues that I'm old enough to remember once characterized this country, such as seriousness where seriousness is due, a general fondness of being exact and, yes, punctuality. Should pop sociologists one day come up with a list of the ten norms in world history that were supposedly deeply ingrained in a country's culture, yet disappeared very quickly, a possible absence of "punctuality in Germany, ca. 1999-2002" should be taken as evidence that the method which was used to construct the list was faulty.
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