German Woman Explains ‘Disc Parking’ to Her American Husband

“Parking discs are like little time machines fueled by guilt.” — Photo Credit: “Zeichen 291” — Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Back in February of 2013, my German wife and I were driving through a small village in Niedersachsen when we decided to stop and take a look around (which obviously means she made us stop so she could do some window shopping.) And as usual, my wife was behind the wheel because, A: just looking at the Autobahn gives me a panic attack, and B: I haven’t driven a stick shift since I was 16 years old, so the clutch would probably detonate the moment my foot touched it.

As she parked the car, I noticed my wife reaching for something under the seat; a rectangular piece of paperboard with a rotating dial on the front indicating the time of day. She spun the dial and set it on the dashboard facing outward. I climbed out of the passenger seat, looked through the windshield and saw she’d set the dial to the exact time we’d arrived.

“Honey, I know you’re a good person and all, but now is not the time for honesty.”

Now, there were absolutely no other cars to be seen. No people around either. In fact, the whole place seemed to be asleep. (Asleep or dead. It’s hard to tell with these village Germans.) I couldn’t understand why it would matter how long we parked there, or if some parking inspector would actually be dick enough to check our dial and ticket us for staying too long. Furthermore, I could not understand my wife’s reluctance to take full advantage of a rule system so naive it actually bases itself on trust. Holy shit, I wanted to spin that dial so hard it would say we got there tomorrow.

Anyway, I pointed to the dashboard and said to my wife, “Why not just crank that thing super late, so if you’re asked, you can say, ‘I’m just a silly little German. I made a mistake.’ ”

Without even looking, she dropped her keys in her purse, stepped up onto the sidewalk and said, “Germans don’t make mistakes.”



49 thoughts

  1. LOL…we all know, Germans DO make mistakes!!!
    But we like to count beans and with these “Parking Discs” the gouvernment makes much money. A few minutes too late and a friendly woman clamps a friendly ticket with an extra-fee behind your windshield wiper.

    “Parking Discs” moved by a clockwork are forbidden…you even risk to get dragged to court for fraud.
    And these wonderful Parking Discs from Denmark, what glue constantly behind the window, are forbidden also!
    Would be too easy…you wouldn’t appreciate your parking time anymore. ☺


  2. The system is not actually based on trust. If the Authorities arrive at the scene and find out that you have ante-timed (or do I mean post-timed?) your disc, you are in for a rude awakening.


  3. Hilarious! Most are born like an engineer and forceful. I’m one by blood but since I was raised in the wild west I’m all like yee-haw and burritos and sloppy joes….While my german friends say, “We make nothing sloppy. You see I’ve rounded it into a nice little ball and I call it JOE!”


  4. HA!! I love it! She knows a German cop would never buy that excuse… Besides, there’s the chance that the meter would be checked shortly, and if the time were set to something in the future, you would _still_ be a Verkehrssünder (traffic sinner). Just toe the line, Buddy. Others are waiting for your parking space, and two hours is long enough! :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You say The Stand, and I think of you breaking the rule and being pulled before some underground German unit of the parking law only to find some alternate universe: “Da rat man forgives you…this time.” (why I’m a writer 101)


  6. Hmmmm….we’re driving around small villages in Germany and now I’m a bit worried that we don’t have a parking disc. No one explained that rule to us at the rental agency.


  7. Oh yes… I know these… and believe me, you won’t forget to set them up because there ARE people hiding and jumping out of a dark corner only to hand you a ticket even though you’re only gone to pee for 2 1/2 minutes.


  8. You shouldn’t be scared about being on the Autobahn. You certainly won’t be crippled in an accident; accidents at those speeds rarely have survivors. And you wouldn’t live long enough to even say, “Oh, SHIT!” Maybe “Oh” but no more than that.


  9. “but no one was there” this expression of commen sense doesn’t apply. Remember the red man? The red man and the parking disc send out some kind of manipulative power to make Germans obey.


  10. I’m surprised no one has latched on to your comment about not feeling comfortable driving stick.
    Another American living in Germany who doesn’t know how to drive stick.


      1. They are playing some kind of motorcycle racing event on the TVs at my gym right now. Like, all the time. What is it? Motocross? There are 5 drivers, and they ride in something like mud or dirt around in a loop. (I have no idea about these things.)


      2. There are many forms of motorcycle racing and I am not familiar with all of them. I mostly did enduro racing (off road racing) and always said motocross was for crazy 18 year old’s. I tried Hare and Hound once and felt it was to hard on an expensive motorcycle, 3-4 hours straight not stop on a 1-6 mile loop is what I remember. They also have Supercross which is indoors and like motocross. And many more including races on pavement. Here is the American Motorcycling Association (AMA) rule books for each race type.


  11. My wife tried to teach me stick shift by her parents on a short industrial park road. I had to “give my credit card” to my father-in-law in case I wrecked the car. The only thing that happened was some crunching of the gears and having trouble finding the clutch. The street wasn’t long enough to get beyond 2nd gear. With having all your extremities being used for the clutch, the gas/brake pedal, the steering wheel, the stick shift, how are you supposed to grab your coffee out of the drink holder?


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