Another chore done…

This morning, Bill and I went to get my German driver’s license renewed. After five years, your license expires. We’ve been here since August 2014, so it was time to get this chore accomplished. Because we’re here on SOFA status, our driver’s license procedure is different than it would be if we were ordinary residents. We have to go to an office on an installation, in this case, Clay Kaserne, fill out paperwork, take an eye test, and pay $20. Technically, my stateside license is what makes me legal to drive here, but we have to have one issued by the military installation, too.

License renewal is pretty easy, since it doesn’t require taking a test. In 2007 and 2014, I had to take the driver’s license test. I was able to pass on the first try both times, although not everyone does. I think both times, I took a class directly before the exam was given, although the class is now available online. I don’t think it’s a hard test, but it does take time to get it done. I still have the first German license that was issued to me in 2007. I turned my license from 2014 in today and should get a new one in the mail in a few weeks.

The guy who helped me this morning was a delightful German fellow who was cracking jokes the whole time. I found him very amusing, and could tell that he shares a love of sweets with me. He had a jar of cookies, a candy jar full of gummi fish, and another box of cookies on his desk. When he noticed we’d moved up here from Stuttgart, he was extolling the virtues of Wiesbaden versus Stuttgart. To be honest, I think I like living up here more, although there are a few things I miss about Stuttgart. Stuttgart is a lot more familiar to me and I think the surrounding area is prettier… there’s a lot more nature and pretty buildings that weren’t destroyed in World War II. But the people up here seem more relaxed about almost everything, which makes life easier for me.

After we filled out my paperwork, the guy helpfully explained how I can get an international driver’s license. We’ve been here five years and I never bothered to get one. I don’t drive very often. Bill wants to get me one now, though, because they’re good to have in case something happens to him while we’re out of the country. Also, it’s a lot easier to get the international license up here. In Stuttgart, we had to go to a German government office to get one. It took a couple of hours because there were many people waiting and not enough people working. Up here, we can get the international license on post, and the same guy would be helping us. And… he even explained how we can expedite things even more. Very helpful guy… and very friendly! Edited to add: Bill says we still have to go to a government office to get the international license, but it’s a very large office, so it only takes a few minutes as opposed to hours.

I had occasion to use the restroom while we were renewing my license. I was amused by the wall o’ PSAs in the ladies room. There were instructions on everything from how to wash your hands to how to prevent the spread of flu. And there were tons of directives– turn off the lights, report all leaks, and dammit, wash your hands! The ladies room also had, not just a chair, but a full couch! I don’t know how many people hang out in the restroom, but if you wanted to on Clay Kaserne, you certainly could. Maybe the couch was intended for nursing moms, but I noticed they had a nursing room, too.

Seriously, you could spend ten minutes reading all of this crap on the walls. I get a kick out of military installations, because there is never a shortage of reading material. Every bulletin board is chock full of information, and the walls are full of instructions on what to do in any situation. They especially like to put stuff on the stall doors so you can read while you’re taking a dump.

As someone who could have been a public health practitioner, I do appreciate the pictorial on how to wash your hands properly… but somehow, I think those who need the sign the most probably would not take the time to read it. One would hope this would be a home taught skill, anyway. But, on the other hand, you’d likely be surprised by how many people don’t wash their hands after they go to the bathroom.

I’m just glad I didn’t see anything like this in the restroom…

I’m staying the hell away from Kansas City!

This post is proof positive that I can find something to write about every day, if I put my mind to it.


Driver’s testing in Germany for Americans with the military…

Yesterday, Bill and I took our driver’s license exam.  We took them seven years ago when we were here last time and they were good for five years.  Had we only moved back here in 2012 instead of 2014, we could have just gotten a renewal.  But since the licenses expired, we had to retake the driver’s ed course and the accompanying exam.

Since our last time in Germany, some kind folks in Kaiserslautern came up with a practice exam that you can access online.  I did that a couple of times before we went to the class, which lasted about four hours.  Even with the practice and studying, driving in Germany can be tricky for the uninitiated, even though they drive on the same side of the road we do.  There are a lot of signs, each of which have different meanings according to their shapes and colors.  There are many roundabouts and unmarked four way intersections, and you have to know what to do when you get to them.

Germany is very big on fines.  If you have an accident, you will probably end up being fined.  And after an accident, you can’t drink alcohol for six hours because the German police may do a blood test after the fact.  I read on Facebook about one lady getting reported for driving too fast in her neighborhood and the cops showing up at her house to Breathalyze her.  Turned out she hadn’t had a drink that night, but if she had opened some wine at home, she could have gotten into some serious trouble.  Germans don’t mess around with drunk driving and can take your blood by force if you don’t consent to testing.

Yesterday’s class started out kind of boring.  We watched two military issue films, one of which I had watched on my own online.  Then the teacher, a kindly German man who brought his dog with him, taught a lesson.  He was very witty and seemed intent on making sure we knew what the rules were, even if the Americans who made up the test and the driving manuals got them slightly wrong.  Of course, it was a long time to be in a class and by the time it was over, my brain was kind of fried.  Fortunately, Bill and I both passed.  In fact, we each got the same number of questions wrong.  At least one guy failed the test and has to retake it.  He can do that today, but if he doesn’t pass today, he has to wait two weeks.  And if he fails it a third time, he has to wait two months and go through the class again.

I noticed this time, they didn’t do the eye test.  I guess they figured it was pointless, since when they mass test people, they can just memorize what the eye test on the top line says.

Anyway, with any luck our cars will get here soon so we can break in our new licenses.  For now, we have little slips of paper, but in a couple of weeks, the plastic cards will get here.  I still have mine from the last time we were here.  I try to let Bill do most of the driving because it’s a pain in the ass.  But since both cars are coming, I figured it would be a good thing to have a license.