Living in Germany: The Joys (and Sorrows) of Life Without a Car

cycling-in-the-rain-in-germany-bike
Check out my sweet ZEV. (That’s ‘zero-emissions vehicle,’ to the layperson). *snort* — Image Credit: Markus Goller (https://www.flickr.com/photos/markusgoller/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

For me, one of the most beautiful things about moving to Germany was not having to own a car anymore. See, I’m from Portland, Oregon, where I spent my professional life commuting from my home in NE to my workplace in SW. I shudder to think of all those lost hours spent sitting in traffic, wasting my life away, when I could have been doing something far more productive instead, like eating a block of cheddar cheese and watching Season 4 of Modern Family on Netflix. (Phil Dunphy is my favorite character. He’s played by Ty Burrell, who is also from Oregon — a fact I repeat loudly and with obnoxious frequency.)

Anyway, I moved to Hannover, Germany, and this town has a pretty sweet public transportation system: I can hop on the U-Bahn like a normal person, or take the bus whenever I feel like being sneezed on by a gaggle of filthy teenagers. It’s awesome.

But more often than not, I choose to travel by bike. I ride my bike all over the place: to the gym, to the post office, and even to my language classes. (A couple dudes even tried to steal my bike one time, though they failed miserably, the stupids.) But the one place I really can’t take my bike is the grocery store — not when I want to buy an entire week’s worth of food, anyway; the little basket on the back just can’t handle such a massive load. (Tee hee!)

So, until recently, I used two luggage trolleys, which I would drag behind myself like a pair of Herculean testicles. Then my German wife got the idea in her head we might someday have a dog, or even, *shudder* a child. And if we’re going to haul some drooling half-breed around town, why not buy a bike trailer now? We could use it to transport our groceries until the little cloven hoofed freak is born. Brilliant!

bike-trailer-buggy-stroller-germany
This is our new bike trailer from Tiggo. It cost like €150, which could

have paid for roughly 120 bottles of Herrenhäuser beer instead. As it turns out, the trailer works pretty well; I can get to and from the grocery store super fast, and I can carry a whole hell of a lot more food too. (Which is important, since my German wife can eat everything in sight and never gain a pound, goddamn her.) But notice that clearly vacant space inside the trailer? That place where the baby should be? Clearly something should go there, and that something should obviously be a horrifying zombie doll to scare the everloving shit out of the neighbor kids.

Meet, Ghost Baby.

horrifying-zombie-baby-halloween-doll
You might not think I’d actually order something like this, but then you would be underestimating the joy I derive from emotionally scarring preschoolers.

Now, Ghost Baby may not look like much, but she is easily the greatest thing ever purchased from Amazon. She comes complete with AA batteries and a motion-activated sensor, so as I ride along the street with her bouncing around behind me in the trailer, she repeats the delightful little mantra: “You dropped me and I broke. That made me angry.” And every so often, just for shits and giggles, she throws in a creepy laugh and says, “I’m waaatching youuuuuuu…”

The neighbor kids love Ghost Baby. And by love, I mean they start crying whenever they see her. Hell, they’ll start crying even when they don’t see her, like when I forget Ghost Baby in the garage and ride to the store with a totally empty trailer. It’s a Pavlovian response at this point, and I can practically hear their parent’s thoughts every time I ride by: “Oh Christ, here comes that American guy again with his stupid dead baby doll. Real funny asshole! Guess who has to listen to the nightmares at 3:00 am and then get up and go to work tomorrow? I hope you crash into a truck full of limp dildos, you son of a bitch.”

So since Ghost Baby’s debut was such a smashing success, I decided to show her to my German wife. (She had no idea I’d ordered her, mind you, so I had the opportunity to arrange for the perfect introduction.)

Here is the scene I set up while she was away at work:

ghost-baby-haunted-doll-with-sound
“This is gonna be awesome.”

Here is what my wife saw later that night when she stepped inside the door:

halloween-doll-with-sound-scary-baby-prank
“Willkommen zu Hause, motherfucker!”

And of course I had to hide at the top of the stairs and record the whole thing on my iPhone…

scaring-my-wife-halloween-doll-prank

So, without further delay, I present you, “German Wife Meets Ghost Baby: A Fine How-Do-You-Do.”

Unfortunately, those candles I lit were a wedding present, and not to be used. (Like decorative pillows and other shit we have around the house for absolutely no reason.) Also, they were scented candles, so they stunk up the house like an atomic brothel.

Therefore, I must award my Ghost Baby bike trailer scheme — which came as an indirect result of not needing a car in order to survive in Germany — with a slightly less-than-perfect, 4 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel Diamond from Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Germany

Have a great week everyone and thank you for reading!

— OGM

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9 thoughts

  1. argh! douse that abhorrent abomination in holy water, burn it with several recipes in the Anarchist cookbook then come up with a plan B for where you are going to move when it comes back to haunt your home. …Krampus is going to be pissed when he realized you kidnapped one of his unholy spawn.

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  2. I lived in the Washington, DC, area for 37 years and I’m pretty sure that I wasted far more of my life in any given week in traffic that folks in Portland ever could, so I’m enjoying not having to depend on a car here in Berlin. Except when it’s rainy and cold, which is when I’d love to get my groceries in my car, pull up to my house, push a button to open the garage door, and pull in and take my groceries out in a nice, warmish, dry garage!

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  3. If that had been an American wife, you could have heard her screams all the way on the other block, followed by a gun shot, but a German wife reacts with a gentle ” iiiiieeeh”, followed by a quiet laugh, indulging her silly American husband. ;) Kudos though, to terrorizing the German neighborhood kids. They deserve it.

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  4. If you live in a Mediterranean downtown it’s ok not to have a car because there are no parking spaces available or fucking expensive. But living in a suburb in your an own house (with garage/ carport?) having no car is weird. Especially you life in a boring city like Hannover …
    Maybe you (and your wife) are socialistic- ecologistic zelots? :shock:
    P.S.: “Driving” a bike like you do (without child) is a sign for “gezwickter Führerschein” or being a Penner. Or a child-friendly zombie :-)

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  5. That is a wonderful zombie baby and I’m thinking that my wife and daughter would love to experience the gift of a zombie baby when they come home. I can imagine zombie baby all around the house. I can almost hear the screams of joy from my family… And Seattle traffic is much worse that Portland.😄

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