One of my favorite parts of learning languages or travelling abroad is learning more about the cultures. I love discovering the little everyday things that they don’t teach in classes. Here’s one of them:
In many households, men have to pee sitting down
We’d been living in Munich for a few years before I learned this fact. A German friend was potty training her young boy and mentioned that upright urination would not be taught or tolerated at home. Of course I asked what, uh, technique her husband used. The answer was clear: he sat down to pee because she forbade him to stand. The conversation got interesting from there…!
A bit of research and an informal surveyed of friends and colleagues, gave us some answers. The main reason given was that standing to pee makes a bigger mess – it’s unhygienic and creates more work for the person who cleans (usually the wife or mother).
My husband asked some of his colleagues at work – who he knew for a fact used the office urinals – and many of them admitted that they sit to pee at home upon their wives’ orders. One said that his mom taught him the same thing, and he does believe that microscopic splashes make it out of the bowl and onto the floor. Another said that he does it as a compromise, but also thinks it makes less noise for people in neighbouring apartments. A third explained that since his wife cleans, he’ll do what she asks. It’s pretty common in shared or student housing to have this rule. I have to say I remember the hygienic standards of certain all-male houses in college and maybe it’s not such a bad idea at that!
As with most phenomena in Germany, there’s a word for it. A Stehpinkler is a guy who stands to pee; a Sitzpinkler is one who sits.
And, as with most rules in Germany, there’s a wide range of signs you can buy to post the rules for all to see…and a few devices to discourage rule breakers.
A few of my favorites are:
The “Stop, Sit Down” annoying alarm
The Toilet Spy alarm (“put it down or I’ll shoot”)
And for the repeat offenders… the best one of them all.
Anne Frazier Ahrens came to Munich as a single gal from Texas with a successful career in finance. A decade later, she’s still here… now a married, full-time mom to a daughter with Down Syndrome and a very full social calendar. Since trading investor meetings for coffee dates, she’s enjoying having more time to explore all that Munich has to offer – and continues her quest to visit all of Munich’s beer gardens.
Illustration credit: Yolanda Ng is a cross creative who is a professional fashion designer, stylist, street style blogger for VON ZWEI and a photographer at Corner Store Photography. She is also the Creative and Marketing Director for LMBB.