Until moving here, I'd always considered myself a fairly organized and punctual person. I'm not sure if it's purely a coincidence in timing, or whether the order of German society has driven me mad and sent me into a reactionary backward spiral, but it's clear that the punctuality that my parents drummed into me as a child has given way to chaos, over-booking, and general lateness in recent years- at least in my personal life. Not so much at work, where I'm paid to be organized (maybe a girl can only deal with so much structure? And I need my non-work existence to be the yin to the work yang, and thus be more unstructured?).
Living in Germany sometimes brings this character flaw into relief because it's hard to actually function in this society without being extremely organized - mostly about timing/scheduling. German businesses have very limited hours. Nothing is open on Sundays (except some restaurants and cafés and tourist sites), many places are also closed on Saturdays or open only half a day, stores (including grocery stores!) close at 8pm on weekdays, and other businesses like the bank and the post office have even more limited hours. So people schedule their days "just so" in order to get to the bank or the grocery store before it closes. Oh, and then there are the situations where the water meter reader comes by in the middle of the week, on a workday, and you have to be home when he comes or you get fined for not being there. You might get one chance to reschedule, but there's definitely no chance to schedule it for an evening or a Saturday. Nope. You simply have to stay home from work, and everyone accepts that.
So I've concluded that all of this must be one of the reasons Germans are so punctual. I believe they grew up in a world where they had to schedule their lives around limited business hours, and this "scheduling" has been internalized and has seeped over into almost every aspect of society. There is no escaping it, and Germans themselves don't even realize how extreme this ordered life is to those whose cultural conditioning occurred outside Germany.
Me, I've simply given up. I fully accept that this is German society, and yet I doubt I'll ever be able to really embrace it and conform. I will always look at the clock in panic when I realize that the grocery store closed 5 minutes ago; I'll swear under my breath, yet again, when I stand outside the locked doors of the hardware store on a Saturday evening, just wanting to buy a lightbulb for my lamp that's been burned out for 4 months already; and I'll probably always try to make dinner plans 15 minutes before meeting up, and then be appalled when the hostess turns me away because I don't have a reservation.