The Art of Punctuality

Happy May, dear friends!

Here in Germany they celebrate “May Day” as a national holiday! The Germans are collectively sad that it fell on a Sunday this year otherwise they would have had it off. Rest assured though, there were several parties happening in the neighborhood with people dancing the night away. In typical introvert fashion, regardless of the country, I celebrated with a personal pan pizza and chocolate ice cream. I feel horrible this morning! Hooray!

Before diving into the main topic I wanted to talk about, I FIRST wanted to blow your mind with these cereal boxes. Are you dreaming? Is everything the same and yet somehow different? Here’s a side by side comparison so we both know I’m not hallucinating.




Wait, didn’t cocoa krispies always have the monkey on it? And didn’t Cookie Crisp have a burglar dog?




These past couple of weeks teaching have been a fun, humbling, interesting blur. I have gotten to know some of my students fairly well, and we have started to build a rapport. I asked them gently if next time I could bring in a list of “German Stereotypes” that we can debunk together and they agreed.

WORD TO THE WISE: I would definitely not try this as an opener for people you just met. Some of these lists you find online are a bit “judgmental”, and it’s taken me a while to understand a different kind of humor in a foreign land. But, I found a particularly good list right here:

As it’s complimentary, written by a German dude, as well as “TRUE” so it’s relatable to a lot of people here.

What they said about punctuality:

“Being on time is considered a virtue in Germany. They would rather be too early than too late. Punctuality is seen as a sign of respect to the person you are meeting. It does not mean that every German is good about this, but they will apologize if they arrive past the agreed-upon time.

On the same line of thought, train and bus schedules are given in exact minutes and yes, people do expect transportation services to be true to their schedule.”


This has proven from experience and asking around to be extremely true. I found myself going into work too early in fear of disrespecting the students with my usual tardiness. Way to make me a better person, Germans!


(this image is from the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen. Because, of course Germany would have a clock museum!

Last week was also my first time doing one-on-one tutoring sessions. I tutored a guy who worked in the car insurance business. I asked him about this punctuality stereotype and he related to me something his grandfather told him:

“If you’re too late or too early, you’re borrowing someone else’s time. If you’re right on time you’re using the shared time you agreed upon.”


Yes, I completely butchered that quote, but that is poetic food for thought. Time is used as a sign of respect here, and I can’t say I disagree. I kind of like it!

Friends: remember when I was perpetually 20-30 minutes late? Well GERMAN SARAH is meticulously on time. German Sarah also eats giant loaves of bread every day.

Until next TIME heheeheheh no.



The Art of Punctuality

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