Adventures in Germany: Driving School
I nervously filed into a classroom and sat down in the semi-circle of desks. Immediately right of the instructor’s desk. As I looked around, 13 other eighteen-year-old faces stared back at me. I was the only “student” sporting a full beard and within spitting distance of a 30th birthday.
Behind our instructor’s desk was a projector screen. Ten questions glowed on its off-white surface. Reading each one summoned from my mind an equal mixture of despair and laughter. To say I read any of it though would be a mistake. I am more visibly pronouncing each word. Each 17 letter German word bought be closer and closer to standing up and leaving.
Before I go any further let me back up and provide some context for this situation.
Sasha and I bought a car when we arrived in Germany. She’s made an appearance here before. We decided with a shrug in the insurance office that I would be “the owner.”
Being “the owner” turned out to be a mistake within my first ten minutes of ownership. I found out that to receive a substantial deduction on our insurance premium I would need to attend a 7-hour driving safety course, in German.
At the time, I reminded everyone in the room that I did not speak much German. At that time I’d have been better suited to get us all coffee than attend the class.
Everyone said I’d be okay. Speaking German wasn’t a requirement for learning how to drive a car safely in Germany. Read that last sentence three more times and your head will start to ache in the same way mine was at the time.
Fast forward a month and we’re back in the classroom scene above…
My stomach dropped when the teacher, who might as well have been speaking Sanskrit, called on me to answer the questions first. Fuck. Scheiße.
I looked at him and decided to give it my best. Here is exactly what I said:
Ich habe ein Auto — I have a car.
Es ist Mercedes — It is Mercedes.
Ich bin Reiseführer seit zwei Monat — I am tour guide since two months.
…pause (as the snickering around the room is bubbling into laughter)…
Mein Auto ist einfach fahren stil — My car is easy driving style (trying to say it was an automatic transmission).
The teacher cut me off and responded with a question (I think) about my ability to speak German. I shrugged. He shrugged back.
I felt like this student-instructor relationship was really starting to blossom.
After everyone answered each question in far more/different words that I had. Next, our instructor began to lecture, and I began to doze. I cannot relay to you one sentence from that lecture.
After 45 minutes, suddenly, we all stood up and started to walk outside. I had no idea why but I made sure not to be anywhere near the front of the group.
Stay tuned: Part 2 of German driving safety school tomorrow!