Jānis vs Jürgen

Ah, men. Don’t you just love them? Even when they’re being complete gobshites (which is a worryingly high amount of the time), we still can’t resist them.

Having said that, even though I’ve only been in Deutschland for a little while, I’ve noticed much less of the gobshite about German men than say, for example, oooh, Latvian men. “But Linda! How can you judge!? You’ve only been there seven weeks!”, I hear you cry.  Well, considering you get to know a German man about as much in four days as you do a Latvian man in four years, I feel that I’m already in a position to do just that. So, here goes – a brief comparison:


First of all, you’re far more likely to meet a single Jürgen in his thirties than a single Jānis. Most Jānises get married shortly after hitting puberty – it doesn’t really matter to whom.

A long and icy road ahead…


Jürgen: Hello/Good morning/HOORAY!

Jānis: (Awkward silence and some staring. OK, a lot of staring.)


Jürgen will hold the door open for you, and thank you if you hold the door open for him.

Jānis will let the door slam in your face, and breeze past like you don’t exist if you hold the door open for him – as will a stream of other Jānises. (Make sure you have a clear calendar if you choose to hold a door open in Latvia.)

Oh Astra-drinking German man - you are so very hot...
Oh Astra-drinking German man – you are so very hot…

Offering help:

You won’t even have to ask Jürgen for help – he’ll offer it and he’ll follow through before you’ve even realised he’s serious.

Jānis, oh Jānis… You’ll ask him for help. He’ll say “sure”. You’ll tell him when you need him.

Jānis: Oh, you meant this weekend. Sorry, no, I can’t. 

Me: OK, how about next weekend?

Jānis: Oh, next weekend is no good either. I’ll call you… 

After four years of this, you give up asking anyone for anything, so the Jürgens of the world come as a very pleasant surprise.

Giving help:

Once in a blue moon, after promising copious amounts of booze, a Latvian man will “help” you. And so it came to pass that a friend of mine was helping me paint my living room. (In reality, he was sitting drinking beer while I was up a ladder.) I went into the other room for a few minutes and noticed that things were eerily quiet in the living room. Dear God, what was he up to?

(Running back into the other room)

Me: Is that… is that a swastika???

Jānis: No, it’s a peace sign. 

Me: It bloody well looks like a swastika to me.

Jānis: No, it’s a peace sign. 

Me: Um OK, but answer me this – what the f*** is it doing on my living room wall?

Jānis: I was helping. 

Me: By painting a massive swastika on my wall?

Jānis: It’s not a swastika. It’s a peace sign. It’s decoration. 

Me: (picking up the remaining paint and flinging it over the “helpful” Latvian)

Jānis: My jeans! My new jeans! 

Me: It’s decoration. 

That was the last time I asked a Jānis to help me with anything.

I just called to say:

A Jürgen will call you up because he wants to see you.

A Jānis will call you up because he’s run out of drinking money, he doesn’t have enough money for a taxi home, or he wants to bitch about his mad girlfriend. He will then probably attempt to dry hump you after gaining Dutch Latvian courage from the booze you’ve been buying him all night.


A Jürgen will invite you round to his place and let you drink him out of house and home.

A Jānis will invite himself round to your place, drink you out of house and home, pass out… then give out to you in the morning because there’s no beer left.

Being home alone

Jānis: I’m going out to buy some pizza. 

Me: OK, I’ll just wait here then. 

Jānis: No. 

Me: What? Why not? Don’t you trust me?

Jānis: I don’t trust anyone. 

Me: I’m going home. 

Jürgen: OK, I have to go to work now. 

Me: Right, I’ll be ready in a few minutes…

Jürgen: Take your time. Make some tea. Relax. Just make sure you close the door in a German way properly on your way out.

Me: Um. OK…

Happily ever afters

The good news is that the life expectancy for a Jānis is pretty low. On the other hand, if you do manage to pick a dud Jürgen, you’re probably going to be stuck with him for the next 50-60 years.

Think on…


And people wonder why I left Latvia…






114 thoughts on “Jānis vs Jürgen”

  1. Pretty tough on Janis!

    One wonders what you would have said about this buddy of mine who would be sitting on the couch with the phone at his elbow. If it rang, he would yell out for his wife, who would dutifully leave her cooking duties in the kitchen to answer it. “It’s for you”.


    If I ever tried that, there’d be hell to pay from my wife….

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My only experience of Germany was the 15 hours in Frankfurt airport sampling all the different sausages.

        The only conversations I had were with (a) the Asian lady who manned the Star Alliance Gold Member’s Lounge who refused to break policy and allow me to bring in 2 guests instead of 1.
        (b) a waiter – who turned out to be from Bangladesh.

        Not quite what you would call a satisfying “German” experience. Except for the sausages. On the other hand, this was the airport so I may not have sampled the best of the wursts..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. sorry to say you sound too bitter about Latvia…I used to enjoy your blog but now it seems that you just can’t see anything positive about the place you left – which let’s be honest is not entirely true (there is good and bad in any place)… and my experience with Latvian men has been quite the opposite (down to the doors being opened for me by the strangers)… so it is kind of sad on their behalf seeing such a generalisation … perhaps you should have been more picky in people you associate with?


  3. i have happened upon my own Jānis, except he contradicts all of the listed attributes of said Latvian men, every day i count my lucky stars. I wish you luck on your new adventures in germany and cannot wait to hear all about them. Your blogs never cease to put a smile on my face


  4. I feel like I’m living in a different Latvia. All the Latvian guys I’ve encountered have been perfectly nice (especially the hunky waiters in my local cafes – no, really!) and I’ve not once had a door slammed in my face. The only nasty man I’ve encountered here was Danish!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Best morning read ever! Well – thank you for sharing the difference between the men… you have certainly enlightened us 😉 It is a no-brainer who to choose…. Bet you have your next flight to Latvia booked already? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha, I have a German friend and I feel like she’d disagree hugely with this. And from stories she’s told me about her former lovers and friends, I’d say that you’ve been very lucky. Or perhaps it’s because of where she’s from (tiny town near Dusseldorf) and Berlin has better pickings. Either way, good on you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Latvian PTSD or not, but it sure is funny to read. But I might be alone doing the laughing being this close to Latvia, so hopefully I won’t get shelled either 😉 like i’ve told numerous times before men in this part of the world (Latvia, Lithuania) are indeed a… ahem, challenge. In a way it’s up to the lady to do all he hauling, roping, and holding all the four corners all at the same time, and usually, from what i way too often witness, for not such a great prize as men think they are. So hooray for a so far great Jurgens, and let’s hope there’s more fun than janises in them 😉
    A bit of off topic, when I think Jurgen, I always think Jurgen Vogel in Keinohrhasen aka Rabbit without ears, and I just can’t help but laugh out loud. And since laughing IS a good thing, yay for jurgens 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think the Latvians will be doing any shelling – looks like I got away with it 😉 Ha, rabbit without ears 🙂 Don’t you just love the German language?!


      1. yup, I can’t read and can understand even less of their mad three in one if not ten in one words. If that is not a perfect example of Germans being all organized and efficient, then I don’t know what it is – instead of many and many separate words they make one that is totally unpronounceable and untranslatable 🙂 On the other hand I quite like some of them German movies – unfortunately for some one like me, who can’t read a word in German, I often find it difficult to do the googling for all the new movies. and then i DO need either dubbing to any language i speak, or subtitles. so technically I get to watch like 1 movie in 15

        Liked by 1 person

  8. OK, I think Latvia has been burned into your consciousness. You move to Germany and you’re still dissing Latvians. Yikes! Although it is good to hear positive things about Germans. I think it may be Latvian PTSD. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, I think you might be right! 🙂 Well, Latvian men are freshest in my head – I left Ireland a long time ago and the Irish men in LV were weirdos anyway 😉 Germans are fabulous 🙂


  9. The title alone on this post made me roar! I love the Jurgen. Reminds me of Jurgen Prachnow (Das Boot, a movie I’ve seen about 7 times).

    In my experience, the invitation to make yourself tea is more a reflection of affection than naiveté. Obviously, someone likes the idea of you being there in his absence. Perhaps I’m a bit naive about these things. But I’ve learned not to invite anyone into my home that I wouldn’t trust to be in my apartment alone.

    I must ask. Did you snoop?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, of course not! I know he’d show/tell me anything I asked him to so there’s no need to!
      I like your take on it 😉
      You know, I’ve never seen Das Boot – really must remedy that!


  10. LMAO about the swastika. But what is the German way of closing a door? Did I miss the post where you described it? Or is it just that there is a German way of doing everything?


  11. That poster = dead zexy. 🙂 Although I do support your use of alliteration in the Jürgen/Janis debate, I’m not crazy bout the name choice. Maybe there are some sexier ones up there, but most of the Jürgens that I’ve encountered down here were slightly paunchy middle-aged engineers. I don’t think I’ve ever even met one under the age of 40. So to my mind, not the sexiest name. Feel free to prove me wrong!

    Sounds though like the gents up there are a bit more forward than they are down here. Not a bad thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely not! Yeah, the Jurgen I saw was paunchy and middle aged – and very, very drunk 😉 He dropped a bottle of red wine on the platform, then sat next to me – of course 🙂


  12. Well .. good riddance .. I hope this is one the last rants about my homeland and people that live here. By the sound of it your only “friends” were the ones met at any given drinking establishment – not the best crowd to base any assumptions on. So .. just go on with whatever you were doing in Latvia and keep doing it in Germany!


  13. Jürgen? Nice choice of name 😉

    A Jürgen will allow you to drink him out of house and home, but if you’re ever invited to a barbecue and expect to actually eat anything be sure to take your own meat! Also, if you have a party and don’t specifically ask people to bring something, most Germans will turn up empty handed. I learned that the hard way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I needed a ‘Y’ sound – then yesterday, there were 2 really drunk middle-aged guys sitting on the train beside me – they were obviously on their way home from some corporate event and one had a name tag that said Jurgen 😉 Perfect 🙂
      That must have been one hell of a supermarket run!


          1. LOL, there were a few in my student residence. “Ordnung muss sein!!”. The younger generation mostly seem to be growing out of their Germanness though. Your Hermie sounded quite German though – “this is the way things are done and no other way will do, ever. Jawohl!”


            1. Ah, Hermie 😉 Yes, he was a bit set in his ways alright! But then I guess most people in their seventies are – I’d just never lived with one before 😉 Had my first lesson in Ordnung yesterday – I’d been so proud of myself for putting the milk carton in the cardboard bin. NEIN. Plastic on the inside! And I should have folded it up to the size of a button before putting it anywhere 😉

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Hahahaha! Jan folds his milk cartons up reeeeally small as well. And he crushes tins so they don’t take up as much room – I leave that to him. My hands are too weak and feeble for tin crushing 😉 He also insists on tins/yoghurt pots, etc. being washed out before they go near the bin (okay, my dad does that as well so it didn’t bother me too much – kind of funny though).

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Ha ha! Yeah, that was the other thing – there might have been some milk left inside (there probably was) 😉 Lesson learnt! Wonder if I’ll ever get to the stage where I’m advising other people on what to do? 😉


                2. Holy crap, cleaning tins before throwing them out?

                  This is crazy. I’m all for sorting your waste, but this doesn’t even make any sense! All the food inside is biodegradable anyway, and even if the packaging is recycled immediately, they’ll have to wash the stuff anyway – it’s not like the processing is superclean (and it’s not like a furnace that melts steel or aluminium is gonna notice that thin film of yoghurt, call its union and start a strike).

                  Liked by 1 person

                3. It’s more because the yoghurt (or whatever was in the tin) will be sitting in our kitchen bin for a while before being taken down and we don’t want to attract even more flies than we already have! My dad always washed bottles because they have to be taken all the way to the glass recycling place and it might be a while before that actually happens. Don’t want unwashed wine bottle sitting around!

                  Liked by 1 person

                4. @Linda: Don’t underestimate our unions. When they exist, they DO exist. 🙂

                  @bevchen: okay, this is reasonable. Living in a country, where mandatory trash sorting will be introduced only in a few years, I forget that different bins are collected at different intervals.

                  Liked by 1 person

      1. ok Im sure you ll let us know when that happens… remember you just have to lock a dude in your kitchen and start cleaning the fridge….


  14. Re: the ‘Being home alone’ bit – come on, Jerry is a real sucker there (or maybe it isn’t his stuff or his flat, think about that), leaving all the time for you to snoop around, pocket stuff and bring in accomplices.

    The first scene may be slightly exaggerated, but even though I personally wouldn’t mind someone staying in for a couple of minutes while I’m out shopping for anything that isn’t frozen pizza – I’ll definitely lock down my computer before, and make sure the valuable and easily portable stuff is still there afterwards.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I didn’t mean to say that you were exaggerating: I meant that the case was a bit weird, and somewhat incongruous with the levels of carelessness that Jürgen was exhibiting. And the 3 years part only reinforces my point. (Oh, and are you sure you didn’t miss any of your stuff after his visits – perhaps he was projecting? 😉 )

        Don’t get me wrong, the suspiciousness towards the people you let in is real, and the ‘if you’ve got stuff, there will be plenty of people wanting to liberate you from it’ upbringing definitely comes in play here. And I don’t think it’s such a terrible thing, even though it might result in being counter-productive or not nice.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Well, the swastika can be a symbol of peace depending on its orientation but it would be a pain in the ass to have to explain that to everyone who sees it because you probably will have to..haha


    1. That was what I was thinking! It was huge and on a wall visible from all of the windows – probably wouldn’t have bothered the Latvians much either way though 😉


    1. Ha ha! Yeah, I remember reading somewhere that the nationality Latvians identified with the most was the Germans… I don’t think you could find more different people if you tried! I also remember my students saying ‘well, if you find the Latvians odd, WAIT until you meet the Germans! They’re so cold and unfriendly and unhelpful and la la la’ – now I just laugh 😉


        1. Nah, if I was really Latvian, I’d try to snare them in Latvia, then make them move to some godforsaken part of the country with me where they’d be mine ALL MINE 😉 I still have no desire to get married, don’t worry! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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