Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Driving 9: Dear German Drivers

Dear Patient German Drivers,

Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much it means to me when you keep a safe distance behind me until we come to one of the four places in southern Germany where it seems safe for you to overtake me.

With heartfelt gratitude,
Ami im Schwabenland

Dear All You Other Nimrods,

Look, I know you need to get to your destination. So do I. It would be great if you could do all you can to make sure we both get there. I swear, I'm doing my best. I may not be driving as fast as you think I should, but if I drive any faster on these narrow winding Black Forest roads, I will hit something. I really am going as fast as it is safe for me to go, and you hanging on my rear so close you could climb into my trunk is not helping either of us.

Here's the thing:

And that's quite an understatement. I'm terrified. I suppose I love life just a little too much at the moment, but I'm not ready to crash into a wall, into you, into a tree, or hurl down a steep Black Forest cliff because I had to veer off the road to avoid hitting you, even though the terrain and scenery are pretty enough to make for a nice final resting place.

Just the other day there was yet another terrible accident on the adequately-wide though shoulderless road between our town and the next in which the two drivers were critically injured and transported to the hospital. This happened at 2:15 in the afternoon and the cause of the head-on collision was one driver overtaking another, failing to notice a car in the oncoming lane at the moment he chose to pass. Visibility was limited due to a slight hill and a curve, and that's where he chose to overtake the guy in front of him.

The next time you are stuck behind someone who is driving cautiously around blind curves, braking because oncoming traffic has drifted across the center line, or for whatever other reason too slowly for your taste, imagine that it's your daughter, who is a new driver getting used to the dangers of the road. If you don't have a daughter, consider some other person you hold dear and tell yourself it's him or her.

Back off and be patient. I don't know about you, but I think it would be better for you to have to spend 3 extra minutes on the road because I'm slowing you down than for you to have to spend the next ten days or weeks in the hospital recuperating from the head-on collision you caused in your need to pass me. I promise you, I am not going to speed up just because you are determined to kiss my tailpipe.

Ami im Schwabenland

P.S. No, I am not going to pass the guy in front of me for any reason at any time. That is why I am leaving enough distance between him and me. Feel free, but for the love of all that's holy, wait until it's safe!

I found out today that I will have to drive 30 miles through the Black Forest tomorrow to get to my volunteer thingy. I was going to hitch a ride with another volunteer, but she's been called in to work. Immediately after I got the phone call, my stomach started to rebel and my back began to ache fiercely. M came home from the office early so we could make a practice drive to the place I have to drive tomorrow. He chose a different route from our GPS because that would have led me along narrower, scarier roads. So I made the drive there this evening and am not looking forward to repeating the experience tomorrow.

I wonder if my public health insurance covers fear therapy. I'll be checking into that...


  1. I am embarrassed to say that I still have not driven since getting my German drivers license over 2 months ago. I have been driving since I was 15 in the USA, but I just have such a ridiculous fear about driving here!

    1. Well, that's a great comfort to me, though! It's nice to know I'm not alone. I made it there and back today without incident, but I did yell at several drivers overtaking in my lane - so, coming straight at me while passing multiple cars. Oh, and I got stuck behind some trucks (which I don't mind at all), and only got up to 100 km/h once. Most of the time I was going between 60-80 because of traffic. And you know what? That only added 3 minutes to the 47-minute drive time. THREE minutes. This is what I wish people understood - overtaking where it is dangerous saves very little time, and tailgating saves none. Why do they bother?