I always thought Americans had bad road rage. After all, we’re generally hostile and like our space. That alone makes for a great mix of fun on the road. Germany, however, takes road rage to a whole new level. Let me explain.
My girlfriend told me a story a few weeks ago that shocked me. She said she was sitting at a light one day when the guy behind her got out of his car, came up to her, OPENED HER DOOR, and started yelling at her in German. She hasn’t been here for long and doesn’t know the language well so she had no clue what he was talking about. She assumes he was yelling because she is American (she has a license plate that you can only get if you are American – it fits the small license plate areas on our American cars). She wasn’t breaking any traffic laws and was at a red light. Strange. In case you’re wondering, she closed the door, locked it and gave him a hand gesture.
I’m still shocked that this guy did that. If that happened in the U.S., depending on where you are at, it could be really, really bad.
So yesterday I’m driving home and get stuck behind someone driving 20km in a 30km zone (20km is snail’s pace). I was riding close behind because I wanted to get home and again, 20km is incredibly slow. So this person pulls off to the side of the road, I thought to happily let me by, but then honks as I drive by. No big deal. Then I get to the intersection ahead and stop. I look in my rearview window and see this woman get out of her car behind me, slam her door and huff and puff her way up to me. She then starts making hand signals and yelling at me in German. Since I knew I did nothing wrong, I rolled down my window and started yelling ‘Polizei’ repeatedly (Police in case you didn’t know). That works well by the way! She ran back to her car very quickly. I, like my friend, am not so great at German (yet!) so I didn’t know what she was saying. Isn’t that crazy. I know from experience that it is a cultural thing for Germans to tell you when they think you’re doing something wrong, but this is a whole new level for me. I just can’t help but keep thinking how that would play out in the U.S.
I did realize in hindsight what I can do next time; take a picture of the person and their license plate!