“The Office”

The Office“ is an American comedy television series adapted from a British series of the same name. The series depicts the everyday lives of office employees in a branch of a fictional paper company.

The office’s manager, Michael Scott, constantly interrupts his workers in an attempt to inspire them and win their approval. His efforts usually fail in a humorous way. Although this is a comedy, the manager’s frequent attempts to keep updated on his employees’ work and interact with them personally is similar to actual office environments.

“Soup Nazi”

The U.S. tv series Seinfeld. Jerry George and Elaine visit a new soup stand. Jerry explains that the owner, Yev Kassem, is known as the “Soup Nazi” due to his insistence on a strict manner of behavior while placing an order, but his soups are so outstandingly delicious that the stand is constantly busy. 

At the soup stand, George complains about not receiving bread with his meal. When he presses the issue, George’s order is taken away and his money returned. On a subsequent visit, George buys soup (with a warning that he is pushing his luck), but Elaine, having scoffed at Jerry’s advice on how to order, draws Kassem’s ire and is banned for a year.

Wait, stop ! We’ll let the video tell the rest of the story.

Roommate Agreement

On The Big Bang Theory, an American television show about a group of physicists and the girl next door, two of the main characters share an apartment together. In order to ensure that things run smoothly from the beginning one of the roommates drafts a roommate agreement that outlines all of the rules by which the two characters will abide.

Additionally, anytime there is a change in the characters’ status (for example, if one of them starts dating), this roommate will write a modified version of the agreement to accommodate the new arrangement.

However, the second roommate hates having a fixed list of rules, and rather than being a way to solve disputes, the roommate agreement actually becomes the source of many arguments.

“Have it your way!”

“The customer is always right” is a very common phrase in American business. It was first made popular in the early 20th century when it was used as the slogan for Marshall Field’s Department Store in Chicago and London’s Selfridges Store (founded by American Harry Gordon Selfridge).

Both of these stores became extremely profitable, primarily because they had a reputation for good customer service. As a result, many American businesses have attempted to model their processes on the principle that “the customer is always right.”

In 1911, in an attempt to promote a local business, the Kansas City Star newspaper included an article about the business owner George E. Scott, saying “Scott has done in the country what Marshall Field did in Chicago, Wannamaker did in New York and Selfridge in London. In his store he follows the Field rule and assumes that the customer is always right.”

Many American companies have slogans that show that they care more about customer service than anything else. Examples:

Burger King – “Have it Your Way”

UPS – “What Can Brown Do For You?”

United States Postal Service – “We Deliver for You”

Mounds and Almond Joy – “Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Don’t”

Optimum pairings

In one episode of the American television show Community, when eight people have to divide into partners, they first divide without considering any variables or long-term consequences. Shortly afterwards, however, they are so annoyed with their imperfectly chosen lab partners, that they decide to find a way to be in their optimum pairings.

This leads to them spending all night, and most of the following day, trying to decide what those optimum pairings are. They try several different systems to find new partners, including dividing by hair-color/gender/race, old/young, highest/lowest GPAs, and finally by rating each other then pairing the most popular with the least popular, etc.

After a failed attempt to implement the rating system, the 8 people succumb to fighting, angry at each other for the rankings they received. Finally, more than 12 hours after beginning the optimization process, the characters realize that their class is about to start, but none of them have done their work. 

They go to class, and the teacher is so angry with them for not doing their work, and not even knowing who their partners are, that he forces 7 out of the 8 “partners” to all share one set of lab equipment, while the rest of the class no longer has to share.

„The best engineers come from Germany“

The BBC reported in September 2013: “I think the apprentices will be guaranteed a job when we go back, so I think we’ll be ok,” said Rhys from Bristol, UK. He is one of just 2,200 young workers chosen from some 45,000 applicants by the electronics and electrical engineering giant Siemens for its pan-European training scheme. 

Another apprentice, 21-year-old Gabriel from Northampton, says he came to Berlin to learn the German way. “They are much more precise, they go into detail a lot more. It helps you understand why all the best engineers and creatives come from here.”

“Everybody knows what the label ‘Made in Germany’ means,” says 22-year-old Vainius from Lithuania. “This is a perfect example of how they do it. It is an excellent chance for everyone here.“

Germany’s vocational system has been around for decades and is deeply embedded in society. Youngsters who are not qualified for or interested in going to university can join a program in which they work part of the week for a firm that pays them and teaches them relevant skills. The rest of the time they spend in the classroom.

Chambers of commerce and industry bodies are involved to ensure that the work and the teaching are matched. After their apprenticeships, the trainees often have jobs to walk into, in sectors including electrical engineering, sales and marketing, shipping and agriculture.

Roughly two out of three young Germans go through this system.

Drowning cars

Because Americans like to upgrade products so often, they have developed interesting ways to dispose of their old products. One such way is in an ice car competition.

In many northern cities in the U.S., there is a tradition that involves driving a car out onto a frozen lake in the middle of winter, and taking bets on when the car will break through the ice when temperatures rise. 

The activity became popular in the 1940s when civic groups (such as the Lions Club) realized that putting an old, unused car on the ice and betting on when it would crash through would be a fun competition and a good way to dispose of an old piece of machinery and generate revenue for local cities.

These days, with environmental awareness on the rise, most cities have laws against dumping old cars in lakes. As a result, in cities that continue this tradition, the towns typically remove the engine and transmission, and make sure there are no fluids in the car that might damage the environment. Additionally, the cars are usually tethered to the bank so that they can easily be pulled out of the lake once they break through.

In cities that participate in this tradition, having your car plunge through the ice is considered something of an honor, and it’s not unusual for people to donate their old cars when they want to buy new ones.

DIY or Pimp My Ride

DIY or Do it Yourself projects are very common in the United States. Rather than buying reliable products, many Americans prefer to buy unreliable products and then, using DIY, turn them into reliable (or at least different) products. This can be anything from salvaging a broken toaster to buying old houses and refurbishing them. 

According to a recent survey, 3 out of 4 Americans who make changes to their houses will include some form of DIY. Additionally, there has also been a recent surge of DIY websites explaining to Americans how to go about fixing and upgrading products on their own.

There have been several American television shows that showcase DIY, including Pimp my Ride, which restored rundown vehicles, This Old House, which restored old houses, and even Home Improvement, a sitcom which centered around the antics of a DIY presenter, Tim Allen, as he routinely made mistakes showing people how to fix appliances and redesign their houses.

It turns out that Pimp my Ride was a bit deceptive. Oops!

Detective Shows

The German fascination with investigations and the reconstruction of events is evident in the popularity of crime novels and detective series on television. The story is always about figuring out the facts behind a crime. The show ends with the apprehension of the criminal and a reconstruction of the crime.

The most popular of German detective show is Tatort, literally Crime Scene, which began in 1970, has produced over 800 episodes, and attracts between 7 and 11 million viewers per show.

Soko 5113 began in 1978 and has run 40 sets of episodes. Both series have led to popular spin-offs. On any given evening, on any given channel in Germany, a detective show is being broadcasted. Many are co-productions involving teams from Germany, Great Britain, the U.S. and Skandanavian countries.

Litigious

Litigious: To be litigious means to argue, to contend, to take your dispute to the courts. American society has become very litigious. With a population of roughly 310 million people, the U.S. has 1.2 million attorneys, 200 law schools, graduating approximately 45,000 lawyers each and every year. The court of law is where conflict is resolved.

How conflict is resolved is foundational to any society. It is a system for balancing out conflicting interest. Conflict resolution is so central to our daily lives, in so many or our interactions, that we are continuously fascinated by how they play out.

This fascination is the reason why many movies and television shows are based on the law and legal proceedings. Among the most popular in the U.S. were: L.A. Law (1986-94), the classic Perry Mason (1957-66), The Defenders (1961-65), Law & Order (1990-2010).

The popularity of these shows has led to the reality court room shows, a combination of reality television and the workings of the American legal system. The best known are Judge Judy, The People‘s Court and Divorce Court.