Frankenstein has nothin’ on me

I can no longer drive in Germany. For at least a month. See, I finally bit the bullet and applied for a German license. It’s a rather involved process that ended with this prissy unfriendly girl taking my beloved California license. Beloved because it had a great picture and a listed weight of 150 pounds. It was in fact the license I had in college. Sniff sniff.

Last week I took my Erste Hilfe class. The class was taught in Deutsch. I was really impressed with my ability to understand the instructor. It only took me three hours and a very nice man from Ghana before I understood that Sauerstoff was in fact oxygen and not vomit. An important yet easily misunderstood concept when dealing with first aid.

I can apply a compress bandage, lift a man out of a car, position an unconscious person in such a way as to keep the airway open (this is where the misunderstanding occurred), and practice re-animation. Yep, if you’re dead, I can bring you back. Put me up there with Count Frankenstein. Americans call it CPR, but give the Krauts some credit. Re-animation sounds so cool, I might just hang around old people just to give it a whirl.

I have practice with the compress bandages. As a kid I wanted a broken leg so I could have a cast. Casts were awesome. Unfortunately, my attempts to break my legs by jumping off the roof were thwarted when my dad came home early one night. His car turned the corner on my tenth jump. The only thing damaged was my ass after the beating I got for scaring the poop out of him.

I blame my failure on the copious amounts of milk my parents poured down my throat, the fascists.

They got me a medical kit soon after, complete with ACE bandages and crutches. I spent HOURS wrapping and re-wrapping body parts. So if you’re bleeding profusely, I’m your man.

With that course complete, my eye test taken, picture procured and fahrschule found, I’m set to learn how to drive… after driving for more than 18 years, three of which have been in Germany.

The fahrschule instructor asked me if there was anything he should know about me. I told him I liked pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. He looked at me, straight german faced, for the longest 15 seconds of my life as he processed what I said. I swear, the room was so quiet I could hear a cat bell in the distance.

“Oh, like the song. Ha ha. No, I mean do you have fear?” he said so completely deadpanned I thought him a comic genius until I realized it wasn’t comedy.

So many responses, so little time. These lessons are going to be fun!


16 thoughts on “Frankenstein has nothin’ on me

  1. I can’t be bothered getting a German license. After 12 years I don’t see the point ( I don’t even know if I have to legally have a German one now). I dont carry my English one with me either.

    I’m sure I’ll get into trouble about this one day 🙂

  2. Now that just ain’t right. See, I was afraid to get my license changed until I was in the country approximately four years. I worked up the courage and went to the drivers bureau, or whatever the equivalent of that is, and was told I could have just exchanged my drivers license equally for a German one without taking a test or going to the Fahrschule – if I’d done it within a three year period after arriving.

    So why do you have to go through all this if you’re still under the three years? Or maybe I misunderstood and your three years have run out?

    I could’ve choked myself when I found out my fear kept me from getting it the easy way + now I have to pay over a thousand Euro for driving school.

    That’s another thing, driving school. G says they make you pay until they think they’ve gotten enough money out of you – no matter how good you are or how many years you’ve driven. And this amount is usually around 1,000,- to 1,500,-€, which totally blows.

  3. Hadd: Sparky is concerned about things like insurance. Apparently if i get in a wreck and i don’t have a driver’s license they won’t cover me because as of March 1st I have offically been in the country 2 years. I’ve been here longer, but didn’t register for a while. I liked the excitement of being an illegal alien.

    anyway, it must be done especially with the way sparky drives. One of us should always have a valid lisence.

    Lisa: I’m from California. for some reason, the Germans do not trust california drivers. There are some states that get a free pass and some that get it up the a**. Cali is one of those states.

    My driving instructor is actually pretty cool about the whole thing. We’re doing one lesson and he’ll tell me what i need to know for the test. I ordered a 80€ book with the theoretical test answers. He knows the score and isn’t being difficult as of yet.

    However, I am not allowed to take the test for 1 month. And I am only allowed to drive with a fahrschule.

    back in 1989, my dad taught me to drive and it cost me $20.00. We had both drivers ed and drivers training through the high school. this sucks.

  4. Hi-freakin’-larious. Spewed coffee on the monitor, dammit.

    I didn’t have to jump through the great firey hoops here in Austria, but I did have to hand over my US license. “How long til I get my Austrian one?”
    “One month, maybe more.”
    “Hello, what am I supposed to do in the mean time?”
    “No driving. You can’t drive.”
    “Um, WHAT? For a MONTH? Do you know where we LIVE?!”

    It was very aggravating. Plus they said they’d send me back my US one, but I’m sure it’s being used to prop up a wobbly table leg at the Gemeinde in Graz. It wasn’t a big deal, I just reported it as lost back in the US and they mailed me a new one.

    Trivia question: How long is your license good for here in Austria?
    Answer: Your WHOLE LIFE!

    That’s right! You put an eye out jumping off the roof and you still get to drive on the same license they issued you when you were 16.

  5. I think I got lucky with the whole German drivers license thing.

    I found out that I had only to forfeit my Michigan license, get my picture taken, fill out a million formulars and cough up about 35 Euro to get my German license. I wasn’t too excited about letting my Michigan license go (I also liked the pic on that license), but decided oh well, ok, I’ll lose the Michigan license.

    When I got the call that my German license was ready to be picked up, I cruised over to the Landesamt to pick it up. I kept quiet about my Michigan license, hoping that Amt guy would forget to ask me for it.

    He didn’t forget. But as I handed it over he paused for a second. “Do you think you’ll need this Michigan license?” he asked. Surprised, I answered, “Um, yeah. Yes, I think I’ll need it.”

    He paued for a second, and then slid it back across the desk to me. I quickly shoved it back in my wallet. So now I have a German license and my old Michigan license.

    The Michigan license expires, however, in about 4 months. Oh well, at least this German one lasts forever!

  6. J: Snowing in hell yet?
    J, I don’t even ride the bikes at the gym, good luck getting my ass on one to run errands.

    String: So lucky. Its the michigan thing. I guess you guys have better drivers. Sparky argued for me that it was a form of identification in california and as I was now a resident of germany and not california, i could not get another. The girl offered to give it back. I could but then I would have to start from scratch and not do the transfer thing which it a lot more expensive.

    I think its also a case of who you get at the amt. Sometimes its difficult and sometimes its easy.

    When i registered for permanent residence, i was not eligible for the free german lessons because i had a temporary permit from 2004, but the guy signed me up anyway. that was very nice.

    the cali license was way expired, like 1995 expired. I seem to have misplaced my current license which is probably expired by now anyway.

    i did sweat the whole expires in 1995 thing. it was in big red bold letters above my picture. Either it doesn’t seem to matter or the girl didn’t understand english. I’m still holding my breath on that one. I might be in a bit of trouble when it comes time to pick up the german one.

  7. LOL! I can’t believe you said the pina colada thing to him! I wish I could have seen the look on his face.

    Yeah, the drivers license thing has gotten more strict over the years and some states and provinces don’t have receprocity.

    When I moved here I think I had a year to exchange my Canadian drivers license. And that’s all I had to do – just exchange it for a German one and get an eye test. Easy peasy. They didn’t take away my old license either. It’s expired but I still have it and I actually did get a new one once when we were in Vancouver by just telling them my parents’ address was mine.

    Sucks that they’re making you go to so much trouble to do what you’ve been doing for so many years.

  8. I was lucky too that my Mississippi drivers license was traded in for my German license. And I got it in just in time too – before I had three years of residency and my MS license expiered – or I would have had to go to driving school.

    It was a little costly though. I had to get a professional translation of my license and it cost a lot (and cracked me up as well as they translated every single word on the license, including Mississippi: The Hospitality State). I’m also unhappy that since my Mississippi license was issued in 1997 they put on my German license that I’ve been a licensed driver since 1997 when in reality I’ve been one since 1977 – made a difference when I was getting auto insurance.

    When I picked up my German license I had to turn in my Mississippi one and the lady said “When you go back for a visit, come by here and switch your German one for the US one and then switch back when you return.”. I don’t even bother because #1 the MS one is expired #2 if I were worried about it I’d just go get a whole new MS license and #3 I at least have a license from somewhere which is a step up from many, many drivers in MS who consistantly drive unlicensed because they don’t want to spend the money and/or they’re illiterate and can’t take the tests.

  9. I have soo been there, and just recently. My sympathies. At least you have been driving around and are comfortable – I assume – with the differences already. Why do they come down so hard on the California girls? I consider it a skill to drive in San Francisco without mishap and these Krauts go and give carte blanche to yahoos from Arizona who drive on flat ground and have endless parking. No one can convince me that it makes sense.

    My only advice: really exaggerate the ‘rechts vor links’ and don’t let them talk to you in German during the test.

    Good luck!

  10. Pam: Blogger ate my reply. RRG.
    anyway, I love the never expires part of the german license. You just have to make sure your picture is decent. It’ll be with you until your 80 and peering over steering wheels. I know that chickadee was just being difficult about taking my license. With the amts, i have found that some days its easy and the person is really helpful (read lax about policy) and other times they are real sticklers.

    Christina: You did see his face. It was the same face you see on every german man walking down the street. Kinda humorless and grim. Humor was not to be found at that schule.

    I have a friend who is a few years younger than me. He did an exchange in New Mexico when he was 16 (he’s german). Not only did he get his license in NM, he was able to transfer it for 25DM when he got back.

    I am so jealous.

    Dixie: Wow, at least i didn’t have to get a translation. We had to do that with our marriage certificate and it was a pain. Took forever and was expensive. Well, i hope they don’t need a translation. as it was so expired i was afraid they might make me start from scratch, which now that i think of it, is not all that different of a processes. hmm.

    Megan: See, we cali girls are so discriminated against. maybe we should take it to The Hague. I am really comfortabl driving here. I know the rechts vor links better than Sparky. Thruthfully, I’m a pretty decent and safe driver. As long as I don’t need to apply eye make-up with my glasses on, hold a cup of coffee and change the radio station at the same time, I am good to go.

    Funny how that eye make-up thing really scares Sparky. And I’m so good at it.

  11. well i’m about to start my fahrstunden soon. but i’ve never been driving a car before so i can’t talk about discrimination.

    well though, today in class there was this one women discrimination joke…we were actually talking about the fact that when drinking beer men get some female hormones (they really do…) when some guy said something like: “yeah true, you don’t know how to park then!”
    not quite discrimination against “cali girls” but against women in general, isn’t it? 😀

    jen, how much is a fahrstunde at your fahrschule? (just wanna check if my prices are somehow human!;))

  12. The reason Germany doesn’t allow California drivers a cheap, quick swap is because California doesn’t allow Germans a cheap, quick swap in California. It is all about repricocity. If we could convince ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER to allow Germans in California to obtain a driver’s license, then we could do the same here. (we=former California residents)

  13. …yeah, I know, but why should he care? He’s Austrian (although they all look the same to me…) and Austria does have agreements with all States that matter. And let’s be fair to Arnie, can we really expect an action star to do an excellent job as a politician?

    Anyway, I’m all about paying dues, and foreigners should take driving tests, I’d just like to see a blanket rule on that instead of preferential treatment for Arizonians and other like-minded flatlanders…

  14. I’m dreading giving up my u.s. license. Apparently I have 6 months to do so, but I got lucky… Colorado (state I’m registered in) has a complete reciprocity (whatever the hell that is) agreement with Germany. All I have to do is walk in, hand mine over and get a shiny new deutsch one. Trouble is… I have NO idea how to drive here.

    My solution to date… I walk everywhere. lol

  15. Bummer about the driver’s license. In Switzerland US drivers can do a straight exchange if they do it within 12 months of registering as a resident. You have to turn in your old license, but they send it back to you stamped “not valid for driving in Switzerland” – of course, since our driver’s licenses are laminated that wipes off pretty easily.

    How long are German licenses valid once you get one – in Switzerland they are valid FOR LIFE. How cool is that? (Well, until you are on the road behind that 97 year old driver I guess….)

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