Friday, January 7, 2011

Alles in Ordnung

On a recent trip to Germany, I was reminded again of German law and its long arm in the lives of people living there. This would never fly in the U.S. of A. where "individual rights" reign above all!

In Germany, if you have a sidewalk, you must shovel it free of snow by 7 A.M. so that people can walk to work or wherever. In Atlanta, (1) it rarely snows, (2) no one has a snow shovel, and (3) even if they did, just try and make them use it! Ha! "I don't want to" or "I don't have to" would be common responses (and those are the polite ones).

Germany has a number of "pet laws," including one that requires you to walk your dog every day for at least an hour. This would never fly in Atlanta, where dogs are left on their own in yards, on chains, or in the house for as long as the owner wants. Yes, there are many "good" owners who walk them, but they must be a minority, certainly less than half. My daughter had a neighbor in Augusta, GA, who moved and left the dog in the yard (he had a doghouse). The house remained empty and the own came once in a while to feed the dog. Sad, very sad.

One of Germany's newer pet laws requires the owner to secure a dog that is riding in a car with either a barrier between the dog and the driver or a leash and collar that are attached to the back seat, like a seatbelt for dogs. Much safer, don't you think? But in Atlanta, dogs ride in the back of pick-ups, in the front seat, or even on the driver's lap if they want.

Germans have laws for everything: you must wash your windows inside and out twice a year, refrain from hanging out laundry, washing your car, or cutting the grass on Sunday (a day of rest), and you can't have your car running if you are not in it (no matter how cold it is). There are hundreds more, and everything runs predictably and logically. But we American have the right to be noisy, disturb our neighbors, have dirty windows, and warm up our cars (and the air), don't we? It's good for us, so who has the right to regulate such things? They also are required to recycle by law. Five or more different containers to collect your trash and specific times and places to dispose of them. We are lucky to get people to put trash IN the compactor here.

"Alles in Ordnung" means "everything in order," which is very un-American.

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