Der Deutsch-Franzoser

Not long ago. In a café, talking with a German graduate student interested in doing project work for me. He is intelligent, polite, listening carefully. At the table next to us another guy, same age, drinking tea, eating cake, typing into this laptop, headphones on, on his head a thin woolen cap. It‘s late November. After an hour or so our neighbor pays his bill, packs up his laptop, stands up then turns to me and says: Wissen Sie, es ist sehr unhöflich auf Menschen mit dem Zeigefinger zu deuten.

I was not aware that during my talk with the grad student that I had pointed to him with my index finger. But, wait! Who is this guy to interrupt our conversation and correct my behavior? I was shocked, but then again not surprised. I turned to the grad student – we were discussing differences between cultures – and smiled, saying softly: “There you are. Germans giving unsolicited advice.”

Hardly had I gotten that statement out and my friendly neighbor – not yet finished gathering his things – turned to me again and said: Ich bin Deutschfranzoser. He‘s bicultural, German and French. It wasn‘t worth my time to engage in a debate with him about the matter. It made me wonder, though, if the French also give unsolicited advice.