If have you have lived in Germany for some time and do not use a car or cycle to work you will notice one thing which Germans are obsessed with. When the train, tram or bus is ready for boarding, Germans push to the front line to be the first to get on, no matter whether there are some elderly people around or not. “Wer zuerst kommt, mahlt zuerst” a saying goes meaning: first come, first served or the early bird catches the worm. The German top preference is: getting a window seat alone which cannot be claimed by the disabled and above all facing travel direction. Particularly women are afflicted with some sort of vague dizziness and vomiting in case of, God forbid, they have to sit facing the opposite direction. This health problem according to doctors has no basis, is simply a kind of hallucination.

The German Word “Einbildung” which means making things up and getting them into your head by force like a hypochondriac, best describes this phenomenon. Einbildung is also a kind of “Bildung” education. This may also explain the popularity of the tabloid sensational paper number one Bild-Zeitung which everybody claims not to read but still everybody knows all that is reported in it. You are often flabbergasted at how a highly industrialized country, the cradle of science and philosophy can have a majority of “Bildleser” Bild readers.

The German Fahrtrichtung syndrome may not only be a mental disorder since Germans are afraid not to be in control. Sitting rear-facing may render you weak and disabled or at least at the mercy of others. Some time ago before introducing “Ausstieg links” or “Ausstieg rechts” meaning getting off on the left or right, Germans were heavily concerned and lost a lot of time and energy on how to be the first to get off if they didn’t know whether to get off on the left or right. If you get on the tram a bit later you will find the best seats are already gone and those unlucky ones who sit rear-facing immediately change their seats the moment someone from the lucky Fahrtrichtung population gets off. This way all seats in Fahrtrichtung are always taken. “Pech Gehabt” bad luck.

Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
Bremen – Germany