02 Jul German Carpooling: Mitfahrgelegenheit
“Ah…so do you have music?”
“Umm…meee kaa mee [face tick]…radio”
I felt dupted. Not Florida elections dupted but definitely disappointing Match.com photo dupted. This was the exchange that went down right after I discovered that the driver of the car on my 3 and a half hour drive to Dresden didn’t quite have the conversation skills I had envisioned.
“So who else is going with us?”
[Facial ticks begins again] “No unne”
I had never used a rideshare system before (at least not one organized by strangers online), but the concept made sense and wasn’t completely foreign to me. After all, I do the whole Couchsurfing thing – but this was a bit different. With CouchSurfing you can at least read a description of likes and dislikes of the person whom you’ll be meeting and have some sort of reference system to make sure you don’t end up disemboweled in a ravine. This, however, was more of a blind date – the kind of which you pray that when you finally meet you don’t experience instant gag reflux. Despite the leap of faith – the reward to risk ratio favors the experience (as does the wallet since it is about 1/3 of the cost of train ticket).
“Waaahere youuu go?”
“Anywhere in Dresden’s center would be great. Like by train station should be fine.”
“Offtt AutoBahn (highway).”
“Well – I can just message my friend and find out a good spot. That seems a bit far.”
“Well there might be an exit that is just as close with a metro nearby.”
I suppose in my head I still have romantic fantasies of deep philosophical conversations with exotic people from strange lands. Some ideal that there are not creeps or weirdos or pedophiles in other places, those people only exist in the American heartland. I had no reason to believe that the ride would be anything but an insightful cultural exchange. His text messages confirming my space in his car prior to our awkward meeting were in perfect English prose after all.
“We have plenty of space for you.”
“It will be no problem at all accommodating your luggage to Dresden”
“Do you like men in Lederhosen?”
Facial ticks I can deal with. Not speaking for 3.5 hours straight with some light radio is no problem. Listening to German talk radio at full volume for almost the entirety of the ride is another story. I was trapped. Already on the Autobahn I was forced to stick it out. But like my American brethren before me when faced with a fierce German adversary, I dug in, and mustered all my will power to maintain my composure. I entered a Zen like state in this battle of wills by envisioning myself as a Nazi code breaker, with the fate of the free world in my hands as I sat enduring the onslaught of monotone terror. There is a reason Hitler used to yell as he gave his speeches –the German accent when performing full monologue is at best painfully exhausting, but in its most pure form might be best described as cruel and unusual punishment. I guess I should have gotten Germany travel advice on Indie Travel Podcast before I entered into the land of the conversationally challenged. But being the chipper Chester that I am and looking at the glass half full – I can say that my dreams are no longer haunted by Central American bed bugs – now I only fear monotone German men in Lederhosen. I guess now when I go to my rental at Casamundo holiday homes I might have a whole new set of nightmares.