That Good Old German Organization

September 15, 2005

I love stereotypes – not the harmful ones, but the good ones that make me think better of strangers and less of myself. Like, Italians are better lovers and it’s hopeless to try and measure up. Or, all Frenchmen are fantastic cooks and connoisseurs and can make chicken salad out of chicken manure. There's one about atuo journalists too, but it's unrepeatable here.

I refuse to buy into the German stereotype, though. Being one, knowing many, having worked closely with them and now a guest in their country, it’s become clear as usual how these folks are really just chaos in trim eyewear. What’s my proof?

First, I offer the halls of the Frankfurt show, aptly named the Messe. Instead of one logical, flowing design, it’s a hash of pavilions, walkways, roads and sidewalks that can be lethal in their congestion. The airport hotel I’m in isn’t much better. It’s nearly impenetrable. From the gate where my plane arrived to my room window it’s less than a quarter-mile shot, but a 25-minute walk on three levels of airport concourse and hotel lobby.

Okay, so maybe I’m right about those places. But surely the cars are correct, right? Wrong. Last week I drove a new 750i and couldn’t make any AM radio changes without a minimum of three iDrive maneuvers where one pushbutton selection would have sufficed. I challenge anyone to turn on the wipers once and turn them off right away on the first try. And let’s not even discuss the notion of having a passive key system that requires you to insert the key into a notch and then press a separate button.

When it comes to others, I’ll still rely on stereotypes. The good ones don’t always apply, but they usually do.

And I have the Italian birth certificate to prove it.

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