The dark side of Vienna 5 Rules to Grumpiness

Evelyn Baier-Schmid

innes-blog-The dark side of Vienna 5 Rules to Grumpiness

First things first, do you remember the first time you visited a traditional Viennese coffee house? You were probably excited - delighted by the lavish interior and the old school flair. Maybe a famous author or poet had been sitting in exactly the chair you were sitting in 100 years ago, who knows! What an exciting thought. And then the waiter came to take your order. You looked into his face and all your happiness and excitement evaporated into thin air. 

First things first, do you remember the first time you visited a traditional Viennese coffee house? You were probably excited - delighted by the lavish interior and the old school flair. Maybe a famous author or poet had been sitting in exactly the chair you were sitting in 100 years ago, who knows! What an exciting thought. And then the waiter came to take your order. You looked into his face and all your happiness and excitement evaporated into thin air.

His eyes were dark, his mouth thin. 'Wos derf's denn sein' he grouched. Your eyes widened. 'Heast Sie, I hob ned den gonzen Tog Zeit', he responded to your initial speechlessness over his rudeness. 'I'll have a cappuccino, please', you stumbled while he scribbled something on his little notepad. Then he fiercely grabbed the menu from under your nose and walked off.

This experience, my friends, is the perfect example of the Vienna grumpiness. It has happened to everyone. It's not you. It's just part of the so called 'Kulturgut'. Which translates into cultural heritage but really is just an excuse to be rude. Don't worry though, give it time. After a couple of these experiences you will, little by little, even take pleasure in getting treated this way and maybe you'll enjoy being grumpy and dissatisfied yourself. However, should you ever have the urgent need to talk about these encounters you will most certainly have that opportunity at our INNES German language courses where you will meet other expats and Vienna-newbies.

Additionally, here is a little guide to the infamous rudeness of the Viennese.

Number 1

Don't be too surprised, act cool.


Be ready. It could happen anywhere, anytime. On the subway, the tram, the bus, in supermarkets (especially at the checkout) or at the Magistrat (well, especially there to be honest). Don't get startled but instead just be nonchalant. They shall not baffle you. For locals it's part of everyday life to be rude, to grunt at others or to complain about customers. If you show them that their behaviour affects you, they will not understand. Remember, it's Kulturgut!
If you just get on with this seemingly bad habit, it will make your life much easier. Best thing is to ignore any ignorance thrown at you right back and just do your thing. Answer their rudeness with positivity and politeness. Sometimes that really does the trick and throws them a little curveball. Rarely you might even get a little smirk when they come back to you. Ask our teachers at INNES for some little tricks anytime!

Number 2

Cultural differences.


Austria is a western state of aristroctratic history and Vienna is a rich city. People have not forgotten about this. How could they? Look around you! Everywhere you go, there are monuments and buildings reminding Austrians of their royal heritage. That might play a certain role with the manners Viennese have acquired over the centuries. Also, there is nothing to be worried about! Vienna is one of the greenest and amongst the most liveable cities in the world. In the world! Let's face it, if you live here, grow up here, you are pretty spoilt. And we all know the ways of spoilt kids.

And make no mistake, most Viennese know about their reputation and it almost seems like they take pride in it. Besides, people tend to follow the pattern of their surroundings. So you might adapt this grumpiness sooner than you think...

Let's also consider the 'capital' factor? Even other Austrians, especially the ones living in the West and South in the countryside, are often complaining about the Viennese rudeness. Just like Parisians are renowned to be arrogant and rude to other French.

Nevertheless, make sure to form your own opinion, take in your own grumpiness experiences. Whatever works for you to explore this cultural phenomenon. Because trust me, you will not be able to change this. You have to live it. Which leads me to the next rule:

Number 3

Get into the grumpy groove.


No modification attempts, please. You cannot change something so deeply rooted into everyday life. Complaining is a hobby here so you better ride this edgy vibe of the city. Try to enjoy a stroll around the first district, breathe in some historic flair, listen to the horse carriages roaming the streets. It is a beautiful city, filled with knowledge and art. Discover hidden gems in small 'Gasserl' and enjoy not getting approached by strangers. This is a thing. Nobody really talks to people they don't know. Sure, you can ask for directions or when the next bus leaves but there's probably not many people living in this city who enjoy being confronted by stranger danger. Few friendships grow from meeting someone out and about. It may happen in the middle of the night, when locals have had a couple of 'Spritzer', beers or some 'Schnapserl'. This is one of the rare occasions, when things are upside down and you have a small, a very small chance of making a lovely acquaintance with a proper Viennese which doesn't involve any grumpiness.

An important note: If you have made friends with a Viennese you will truly value this friendship. They will surprise you with wittiness and the most enjoyable dark humour you will stumble upon in the whole of Austria. This is also a vital part of our approach at INNES: to share our knowledge about all things typical Austrian. So you are properly equipped for everyday life in this beautiful city.

Number 4

Try it out yourself.


Go ahead, try it. Be brave and face your inner grumpycat. Let it out and be surprised how much fun it can be. Complaining is a form of acclimatizing and will be appreciated, trust me. All you should know is, there is a fine line between the charming, cultural grumpiness and being mean. Viennese rudeness is not meant to be mean. It's a way of expressing oneself without wanting to harm another person. You should keep that in mind when you try it. Another good word for it is 'sudern' by the way, which also translates into complaining. Sudern though usually happens with someone else or in groups and is often a form of bonding with each other. Telling each other how much life sucks is considered 'us against the world'. This is the first step towards grumpiness. If Viennese want to involve you in this, you are IN.

Number 5

Know your grumpy Viennese vocabulary.


Vocabulary


Wappler – an idiot
Schleich di – piss off
Grantscherm, Grantler – a grumpy person
Zwiederwurzn – someone who is in a bad mood
sudern, raunzen – to complain
Heast! - What?!
Wurscht – doesn't matter...
Goschata – a mouthy person
Suderant, Raunzer – someone who complains
Tschecharant – a person who drinks a lot of alcohol
Gfrast – a cheeky person
Depata – an idiot
Ungustl – an obnoxious person
Rotzmensch – a cheeky girl
pampat – mouthy

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