Adventures in Germany: Driving School Pt. 2
Hopefully, you enjoyed the beginning of my struggle through an all-German driving school course. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, do yourself a favor and start from the beginning here.
As we left the classroom, I had no idea where we were going. I’m sure it was mentioned but, remember, I have no idea what’s being mentioned.
I needed a partner. Some skinny 17-year old who I could bully into feeding me the English translations.
I zeroed in and engaged. Luckily the bullying was unnecessary; he spoke enough English to inform me we were all headed out to our cars.
Before getting to my car, I’m handed a Walkie Talkie (yes, I will always refer to them as Walkie Talkies). Thankfully it was already set to the right channel otherwise I might never have joined the conversation — ha.
I sat down in my car and immediately called my German lifeboat — Sasha.
She picked up, and I pleaded with her to cancel her plans for the next 4 hours. I could duct tape the phone to the Walkie Talkie and she could translate everything. Yes!
Except, no. She wasn’t interested in my half baked idea.
After a few words of encouragement, I was driving in a snaking pattern of cards as the Walkie Talkie bellowed gibberish. I remember turning the Walkie Talkie down so that I could turn up the English music that was playing on a German radio station. Funny world we live in.
The first half an hour was easy and boring. We drive in a line around a track at a sloooow speed. Around and around. What was this teaching me about safety? No idea, I could have aced this test when I was eight years old.
But, the exercises got harder from there.
Our instructor placed cones every 10 feet in a line down a long straight away, and we had to weave the cones at an exceptionally high speed.
I didn’t hit a single cone, but I did give myself a headache whipping my neck back and forth trying to get the wheel to spin the other way as fast as possible.
After five times through the washing machine water was added to our exercises.
Keep in mind that this radio is just endlessly squawking next to me.
The first water exercise is about drifting on a circular track. There’s much more nuance to this one, and that hurts me much more than any other student.
After failing to slide across the asphalt in the correct way for the 4th time, our instructor hops into the passenger seat for anther lap.
This time, he speaks directly to my face instead of through a Walkie Talkie which makes exactly zero difference in the outcome.
The sixth lap he leans over me uncomfortably and takes the wheel. I’m not sure what happened but as a driving team, we nailed that lap.
After I had pulled into let the next student take their turn, I realized that I’d taken the spotlight away from the instructor. Everyone was just staring at me laughing. Great, I thought. Still, 3 hours left.
The next two exercises were a lot more fun. We headed over to a long straight away where speed would clearly be an element. Just as I’m settling into carefully examining the first person in line (this the only way I learn anything) the instructor flips a switch and two walls of water spring to live in the distance.
Each wall is 10 feet wide and 20 feet high — like encountering a couple of geysers on the highway. The second wall is set 50 feet behind the first and 20 feet left.
I quickly observe that the purpose of this exercise is to accelerate as fast as possible toward the geysers then slam the brakes, pucker your butthole and hope for the best…?
When it’s my turn, I slam my foot down on the gas. My Mercedes motor kicks to life with a rising grunt. Five feet from the wall I slam the brakes and drift through the first wall. My wild jerk of the wheel somehow helps to drift right of the second wall.
I look back at the instructor, and he’s nodding in my direction. Yessss!
I circle back around for my second lap feeling like Mario Andretti.
Here’s an idea of what the water piece was like
Stay tuned for the conclusion to this story tomorrow…