What do crucifixes and cigarettes have in common?

They both can be found on the side of the road here in Germany! And it’s hard to determine which one surprises me most….

First off, remember those cigarette machines from way back when? I particularly remember them in smoky diners (for the Great Falls crowd this means Cattins). But as the people fought for their right to breathe clean air they seem to have disappeared except for the occasional ghetto bowling alley. In Germany this is a much different story. They are everywhere….Attached to random apartment buildings, free standing in the middle of a residential or business district. Pick a flavor and it’s yours. At first the public health portion of my brain gasped in horror. But I’ve soon come to realize that it isn’t demonized like in the States. It’s bad for you. Deal with it. Don’t like it quit. But very much still apart of their culture. I must say props to them. We public health people are very bossy, and while I know the importance the position has I think we take away personal responsibility. The Germans accept it rather than blaming society for making them do it. So….I guess….good for them!!

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Also apparently it’s not “put money in, get cigarette out” deal. You need a special card to use it so I assume the process of getting said card does screen out the wannabe badass 7 year olds or what have you…

The other side-of-the-road oddity is the crucifixes and small Catholic shrines. Now, I’m technically Catholic myself but maybe just that in the US blatant in your face religious symbols seem to be less acceptable but it seems strange to see a giant crucifix next to your stop sign…or an enclosed shrine complete with lit candles and a statue of the Virgin Mary on the corner of a busy street (or out in the middle of nowhere for that matter!)

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Regardless, it certainly makes things more interesting as you make your way through villages and such.

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