My Buick is also talk of the town in our office building where they have given me a parking spot on the lower tier, which when the upper parking ramp is lowered, leaves only about an inch or two of space between the trunk of my car and the bottom of the metal ramp. Why they didn’t consider giving me the upper tier, I don’t ask, because somewhere along the line I see it as a challenge to be able to park my car just so, to keep it from crushed under the rough bottom of the ramp and the weight of the car up above. Soon my sassy American car becomes a sight to behold in the home town of the mighty BMW.

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Another person I reconnect with in Munich is Marianne (Thyssen-Miller). Someone I had only met once years earlier in Krefeld and on whom I had developed an incredible crush. She too is now living in Munich. That gorgeous summer afternoon, she has invited me to join her and some of her friends to a picnic at Perlacher Forst – a forest preserve not too far from the center of the city. Marianne has given me very specific directions on how to get to the picnic grounds. I make it out of the city and reach the general neighborhood of where they had all gathered. And then as it often happens. I must have taken one wrong turn or missed a single direction, and after more than half an hour of going around in circles, and finding myself at the same crossroads for the third time, I am now feeling frustrated and quite frazzled. There are no other cars to be seen, no people walking around, no one I could stop and ask.  I look left and I look right and I look straight and then on impulse decide to turn left.  Right in front of my big hunk of white pointed metal, a Volkswagen Bug seems to have materialized out of nowhere.  By the time I see it coming towards me, it’s too late.

I see a very old couple occupying the front seats. They look scared and totally disoriented  behind their tiny windshield. I jump out of the car and run to make sure that they are okay.  There is no visible physical harm done to them, shook up, the woman keeps saying “it wasn’t our fault, it wasn’t our fault.”  “No it wasn’t”, I try to calm her.  I tell her that the most important thing is that they are okay, that it was my fault, and that I have proper insurance to take care of whatever damage the accident may have caused.

The couple must have been in their late sixties or even early seventies.  They are driving in from Dortmund to spend some days with their daughter who lives in the Munich area, not too far from where we have collided.  The loud thud of the collision has brought out the people living in nearby houses.  The old woman calls her daughter from one of the homes.  A few minutes later, a balding young man – their son-in-law shows up in his big boxy Mercedes Benz.  He introduces himself to me as Rudolph Geisler. I am bracing myself for his outburst and anger. I am in Germany and the cars mean a lot to the people. And they are attuned to doing everything in very official way. I am preparing myself psychologically to kiss my picnic goodbye. And the hopes of breaking away from the group in the evening and ending up at some cozy romantic restaurant alone with Marianne.

But the wonder of all wonders, instead of being angry and irate, Rudolph begins to apologize to me for the accident, telling me that he has often told his father-in-law that he was too old to drive, but he just wouldn’t listen – but this would teach him.

I re-confirm to Rudolph that I have international insurance and everything should be taken care of, that maybe we should call police and make a report.

“Let me just get my in-laws home first and then we will worry about that.  Let me give you my phone number and let me have yours and then we will work it all out.” This is very highly un-German way to behave. But haven’t I been told that the Bavarians are different?

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