Talked to a woman about my age who has lived in the village all her life, as has her husband. "Oh," I enthused, "I think it's wonderful when you share childhood memories."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"You know, like memories of school together."
"Oh, no," she said, "There's nothing like that. I was in the class ahead of him."
Today at the doctor's office I saw quite a conventional letter announcing the departure of one doctor to set up a private practice and introducing the new hire. What was odd was the request at the foot of the letter, underscored in pink fluorescent pen, "Bitte ersparen Sie sich und meinem Team unnötige und zeitraubenden Diskussionen bei der Terminvergabe!!!" (!!! = sic. Both receptionists of the 'Team' staring off into space as I read this, which is posted three times around the practice.
I guess the question was, do they want to avoid time-consuming discussions about the new doctor specifically, or just chatter in general. I was afraid to ask, obvs. A very clear directive not to engage in small talk, which Germans find superficial and therefore a waste of time and is discouraged in general, although rarely so specifically.
A friend reminded me of the sign issuring clear discourse directive posted in our local charity shop in England: "Please do not embarrass the staff by asking for a discount." Always wondered who would ask for a discount at a charity shop -- although, strangely, that sign brought up the idea of a discount, which I'd never before considered. It may have suggested the idea to the staff, too: I had one woman regularly give me discounts on 1 pound books that looked a bit ragged at the edges.