October 8, 2008

OK, it's not really that bad

I've gotten some feedback that people now fear the German highway after reading my blog. However, not to worry - I'm a terrible driver and I sort of manage. In fact, although I somehow squeaked through the system and earned a German drivers’ license years ago (although after I took the driving test the instructor berated me for 5 minutes in low Bavarian, which I didn't understand a word of until the driving school principal gently translated: 'You were supposed to downshift before stopping.') even I in my German-license-earning greatness don’t remember all the different rules of precedence for signs, lights and signals. Generally speaking I look for red and try not to hit other cars and that works pretty well. For what it's worth, if you just forget the main rules and focus on the exception rules you end up with a system that isn't that different from what you'd expect. Weird, huh? And yet, it works.

Here's an interesting factoid: The word 'berate', which means to upbraid or scold, is derived from the German word 'beraten', which means to consult. So I guess when you berate someone in German you're actually doing them a favor that they should be paying you for. ;-)

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