Friday, July 10, 2015

Driving in Germany 10: Checklist update

I tackled a big hurdle this week. I drove alone to and from Esslingen for an evening meeting. This was the first time I have driven that far (75 km or 46 miles one way) without M in the car with me as a nervous passenger with his phantom brake and a firm clutch on the door handle. The drive should take an hour, but I left home more than 3 hours before the meeting knowing I could hang out at my Schwiegermutter's place until the meeting we'd both be attending. It's a good thing I left early because the drive there was basically a game of connect-the-Staus (traffic jams), and it took 2 hours and 15 minutes. John Denver kept me cheerful during the longest of the the Staus. Thanks, John!

The good thing about getting stuck in traffic jams is that other drivers' reckless speed is not a problem. I just remained in my lane, stayed a safe distance from the guy in front of me, and kept an eye out for the crazies.

The drive home was partly after dark but pretty uneventful. There was one Stau, but it didn't last too long. I saw no wild pigs dashing about on the Autobahn, so that was good, too. I did hear on the Verkehrsfunk that drivers needed to be careful on another Autobahn because there was a Schrank lying on the road. That's a cabinet, folks. There was a cabinet lying on the freeway.

I actually checked off several items from my driving to-do list:

   Driving back from Esslingen
   Driving to or and from Esslingen on a week day
   Driving into and parking in a parking garage
   Driving out of a parking garage
   Driving to and from a place other than Esslingen
   Driving in a big city (Esslingen has only 90,000 inhabitants)
   Driving with the radio on or a passenger talking
   Overtaking a slow car on a two-lane road (I have already overtaken a tractor and a bicycle…)

I did overtake cars on the Autobahn, but that wasn't on my list. The fastest I drove was 130 km/h  (80 mph), but that was only briefly. Even on the Autobahn, I just don't see any reason for me to drive faster than 120 (74.5 mph). I mean, there could be a cabinet lying on the freeway, and I have a better chance of avoiding slamming into it if I'm not driving faster than my eyes can focus. And yes, German readers, I stay in the right lane except when overtaking.

Yeah, that's a little bit what it feels like. It only took me two years, nine months, two weeks, and five days to gather the nerve to drive 46 miles from home. And back.  Boo YAH!


  1. Congrats! My boyfriend has been starting to pressure me lately whenever we drive anywhere ("we can go, but only if you drive..."). It still stresses me out too much though. I have a basic grip on the stick shift thing (I have done as much parking lot driving as a person can do), but I am just too scared to hit the roads!

    Anyways, congratulations on the drive!

    1. Thanks! Baby steps... The key for me was spending 12 days in Wisconsin and driving around normally (without fear). I returned to Germany and decided to go for the drive to Esslingen while the feeling of "driver's terror" was still absent. I was definitely not comfortable, but I managed. It was one of those "Just do it" moments. Hopefully you'll get there, too.

      I'll also say that it was much easier without M in the car with me. It removed the element of knowing someone was sitting there noticing my every mistake, and as a result, I think I made fewer mistakes!