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.
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.”