Was Douglas Adams German d'you think?
This is the Douglas Adams of "Hitchhiker's Guide" fame. He famously wrote that towels were "the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have". They could be used to keep the hitchhiker warm, to lie on, as a sail on a boat, can be wetted for hand to hand combat, waved as a distress signal and even, if it's clean and dry enough used as a means to dry off.
The towel became such a symbol of the Hitchhiker books that every year on May 25th there is a "Towel Day" when fans of Douglas Adams commemorate his untimely death (in 2001) by carrying towels with them.
Germans are notoriously portrayed as towel carrying sun lounger hoggers, who plan with military precision their dawn raids on the best spots by the pool. As much as I shudder with embarassment at the foibles of my fellow countrymen when on holiday (the demanding of a cooked "English" breakfast everyday, the negligible use of sunscreen ensuring that days 2-14 are spent lobster hued and the necessity to drink lager at all times of the day) so Germans cringe when you mention the words "Strandtuch"* and "Sonnenliege"** in the same sentence. I have witnessed this in action and know it is not just hype, if you don't baggsy a sun lounger before breakfast then expect to spend the day either in full shade or next to the screaming action in the toddler pool!
Recently I've seen the German baggsy-ing method being used in the gym. A cross trainer standing completely idle but with a newspaper propped up on the screen, a full bottle of water and a towel draped over the side - but not a person in sight, and no-one claimed the machine for a good 20 minutes. I think the reason the guy didn't want to use any one of the other 15 cross trainers is because this particular one is right next to the floor to ceiling glass windows of the studio that was about to be used for a step class, I guess he wanted something to oggle when the newspaper got too dull. And then just today I was at the gym early (just after 8) and already in the aerobic studio there was a mat on the floor with a towel, 30 minutes later and there were two mats with towels, another 10 minutes passed and another mat with towel - all this for a class due to start at 9am, clearly positioning within a class is of vital importance. Fortunately this has no impact on me, with the machines I'm happy to use whichever is available and for my yoga class I try to hide as far at the back as possible, let the other Kettwigefrauen fight it out for the spots at the front under the teacher's nose, I'll just wobble along and over balance out of sight!
* beach towel
** sun lounger