German Saturday Teil Eins – Das Auto

Big-ass car lot

Is your car dealership solar powered?

I accepted an invitation to ride along on a visit to a huge German car dealership last Saturday. Located in Rheine, it’s a Disneyland of a car dealership and offers Mercedes, Opel, Volkswagen, KIA, Nissan, BMW, Suzuki, Chevy and Ford brands. The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative. We departed for our destination awash in all the sunshine that Heaven could muster. It was as warm and bucolic a late-October day as is likely possible in this northern European utopia.

The young German couple (and their adorable 4-year old Wunderkind), who offered me the chance to tag along with them, are looking to upgrade their Nissan Qashqai five passenger SUV to an even larger Ford model with seating for seven. They were in a ‘just looking’ mode today, but they are definitely eager to upgrade soon.

After arriving at the dealership, we entered the vast complex of glass and steel showrooms with the intention of working our way through the byzantine maze of autos to the ginormous Ford SUV’s. As our initial reconnaissance failed to land us in the immediate vicinity of the aforementioned objects of affection, and there is apparently either an ancient custom, or perhaps even a law (dam ‘nanny state” socialism) against letting your four-year-old starve to death (Hoocoodanode?), we paused for lunch. It hardly broke our stride though, as they’ve a nice lunch cafe conveniently located right inside the car dealership!.

I drank my obligatory five-sugar latte and bought a couple candy bars for the youngest member of our entourage. Right now, the strongest language we hold in common is candy-based, and is heavily enhanced in chocolate code, but we’re working together to close the German/English gap (hopefully before I push the poor kid headlong into childhood diabetes). I’m obviously taking a serious risk of looking foolish by being linguistically outperformed by a toddler. I’m already having nightmares of the little tyke dressing me down, in perfect English, on my inability to master his native tongue!

He’s a bright and spirited child, who apparently seeks the same in a friend, (even if it just so happens to be an old geezer like me – lol). Don’t try and curry favor by offering him candy right before lunch though. Sure, he”ll take it, but he’ll just stuff it in his pocket until AFTER eating lunch, without the benefit of motherly intervention, and all without a second of hesitation. I could see my chances of winning the great international language competition through forced self control alone was going to be a fool’s errand for me. This kid is a pro. Toss in an attentive German mother, already fluent in English and eager for her son to master same, and you’ve got the recipe for a looming disaster for my (stereotypically) fragile male ego.

When lunch was completed and the candy was consumed, we continued our trek towards the exact Ford SUV under consideration. Upon arrival at the promised land of Ford’s 7-passenger vehicle of perfection, they zeroed in on examining the size, fit and finish. After finishing with their inspection, we took a walk across the complex towards the Mercedes area, taking only one brief respite to let “das kinder” enjoy a moment in the thoughtfully provided kiddie play area. Getting to witness the look of pride and accomplishment on the face of a confident and enthusiastic four year old, after successfully negotiating a two meter slide was well worth the momentary disruption on the way to see the Mercedes.

Several of the showrooms are linked internally, but the place is so big you need to cross a street to get to the Mercedes showroom. The entire complex was well maintained and thoughtfully landscaped. As we crossed the road to the Mercedes building, I glimpsed a nice reflection of the Mercedes logo mirrored nicely off the surface of the Koi pond near the entrance to the showroom. This is a dealership as intelligently designed as any of the thoughtfully engineered German vehicles on display within. I lost track of the time we spent at the dealership, and of the many brands and amenities offered on the plethora of vehicles displayed for purchase. The Coup de grâce of our car shopping adventure coincided with the viewing of a shiny red Mercedes SLS (gull-wing doors). I saw no price listed. If you have to ask, you obviously can’t afford it.

A lithe and agile a vehicle like this, powered by a brutish 6.3 liter engine, is a sure ticket to an exhilarating death via heart failure for an old man like me. The viewing of the red Mercedes completed the day’s pilgrimage to the car dealer. My ever-gracious hostess offered me her spot riding shotgun in their Nissan Qashqai, as she settled in the backseat next to her adorable young progeny. As we drove away from the car dealership, my hosts inquired as to my schedule. Once confident that they weren’t interfering with any plans I might have made beyond the scope of their initial invitation to the dealership, they offered me a diversion of a totally different dimension for the rest of the afternoon that I eagerly accepted. It turned out my day had only just begun. To be continued in “German Saturday Teil Zwei-Den Zoo“.

Enjoy.