As I part from Germany in a few days....I pondered upon the things that I won't miss.
Blitz Cameras. These speed trap cameras came to be a thing that I hated. Over fifteen years....I've been blitzed about five times.....but none of the notices ever came to me. So for two or three weeks.....after each one....I had this anxiety of sorts. Watching a news episode one night....I came to realize that the cops now have huge problems in court with their pictures. If two cars are in the total picture.....the judges have been tossing these out because the camera might catch car "A" while they are accusing car "B" of the crime.
Water with gas. If you go to a restaurant, and are extremely thirsty....you typically for your drink....with a bottle of water. The problem is that there is regular water and water with bubbles (with gas). Some restaurants don't have regular water....so you get stuck with water with bubbles. Frankly, it's the foulest stuff you can dream up and I've had a deep dislike of the stuff.
Customer Service. To be honest, this is the last place on Earth that you can expect any kind of friendly help with a problem at a store or business. Over fifteen years and maybe eighty visits to a customer service operation.....barely twenty percent of my visits have been successful. The funny thing is that German hardware stores are usually the only place where a positive end will always occur.
Channel One/Two. Yes, without any doubt....the two state-run TV channels are the most corrupt and incompetent channels that you can imagine. They pay tons of tax money for sports events, which have limited interest across the spectrum. They run anti-US news episodes on a daily basis.
Potato Pancakes. Germans go nuts over them in December and it's a big food item at outdoor stands. Frankly, I don't see the big deal....and the greasy texture just doesn't appeal to me. If you have any stomach problems and toss down two of these....you might as well drink half a glass of Milk of Magnesia.
Staus. These autobahn traffic jams make life miserable. There are locations around Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf that reminds you of Atlanta in rush-hour traffic....but twice as bad. I was heading up to Denmark once....and got into a 7-mile long stau. At some point....I turned off and drove twenty miles around this whole mess and added almost an entire hour onto my trip. Driving to Ramstein once....which barely seven miles from my house....I ran into a total autobahn stoppage of almost forty minutes. Nothing moved.
Parking Garages. The only way that a 500-car parking garage can hold 500 cars....is if you shrink the turn radius by 30 percent and make every spot as tiny as possible. The Opera Haus parking lot in K-Town is my worst nightmare. I used to have a pick-up and try to park in there. It just wasn't meant for any vehicle longer than twelve feet.
Anti-American behavior. It's rare that I ever ran into it. Over the past year, I've had a dozen people describe situations in Kaisersluatern, Landstuhl and Ramstein village where they ran into this attitude. Some were embarrassing for my associates. I've had two cases in fifteen years. There's nothing much you can say or do.....they want to let you know their feelings....even though you've never met the guy before in your life. You stand there....listen to their lecture for about 60 seconds, and then start smiling. They hate that for some reason.....I won't even speculate why. The more you smile....the less pleasure they get out of the experience.
The four classes of German society. It took me five years to realize there are four classes of people in Germany. First, there are the Hartz IV crowd.....at the bottom of the economic pile. Some are simply unlucky and deserve a better chance than what they've got. Then you have the middle-class guy whose worked hard....owns a house....goes to Italy once a year for a vacation....drinks beer (not wine).....and doesn't complain or whine about much. Then you have the intellectual crowd who own or operate the state-run TV networks or the political parties or the educational sector. The intellectuals pretend that they really are that smart, but you tend to realize the middle-class guy is typically loaded with common sense and a bit smarter. Finally, you've got the status crowd. The status folks can be fairly down on the economic pole or fairly up....doesn't matter. They have things to show off and make their status known. If you buy a new fancy car....and you've got a status guy next door.....expect him to buy a new car within a month or two....just to get one-up-on-you. The status crowd always ask how much you paid for a new item.
The rules. Frankly, there are about forty thousand rules to living your life in Germany. Don't wash your car on Sundays. Don't mow grass between 1400 and 1600. Walk your dog only in these locations. I could go on and on. I'm surprised the base doesn't have a 4-hour lecture on German rules to keep guys out of trouble as they arrive for the first time. I came to hate the massive list of rules. Some did make sense....the other fifty percent....didn't. I won't miss this kind of atmosphere.