Saturday, May 18, 2013

Occasionally, There are Changes

This is a short story of history, local affairs, and how culture changes in Germany.

In 1999, I had to get engaged into a mess with the Germans, and bringing German tags to my truck.  There are various pieces and parts to this story which would make up half a book.  But the best part came with the tag folks down town (Kaiserslautern), near the end of the experience.

After getting a number, I came to sit in the waiting room, with about twenty-five folks.  It took around an hour before I finally got called into this cramped office room with seven folks sitting at desks with typewriters.

I presented my paperwork, and luckily, things at least started off OK.  It took almost twenty minutes for the guy to type up the form, screw up a couple of times, and finally get to some completion point.  But I couldn't have that form, until I had paid the cashier lady....which meant another form that indicated my number and the cost.

So I finally get the 2nd form, pay the cashier, and walk to the tag-making point.  The guy actually made the tag in a matter of three minutes.  I came back and had to stand there for roughly ten minutes until I get back into position with my clerk.

So finally, they hand me the registration and everything.  Total time from where I walked in.....to where I walked out....almost two hours.

Now the nifty thing about this crew at the desks?  They were all in the 50's.  None spoke English.  None had any friendly manner.  And they didn't hesitate to kick folks out who didn't precisely have every form correct when they walked in.

Seven years pass.  Time to visit again.  I walk up to take a number.....with no one sitting in the waiting room.  I'm shocked.

My number is called.  I enter the clerk room....to find every single employee gone, fresh young faces (everyone was around 18 to 22 years old), computers at each desk, and a robust happiness in the room.

My young clerk gal....finished my application in two minutes.  I paid the cashier, got the tags made, and came back to the young clerk in ten minutes.  She had me out the door and gone.

I asked someone about this later.  It was an interesting deal.  The state had arrived one day to announce computers coming in, and all of the old clerks quickly talked up union business and really didn't want computer training to move on with the system.

There were arguments about this, and finally....the county folks simply moved every single employee out of the tag office and brought a whole new crew in.....all young and motivated.  The old guys likely had predicted a big stumble in the first year.  They would have been terribly wrong about that.  If anything, customers were a hundred percent more satisfied with the competency and character of the shop.  No long waits in the waiting room.

If you stick around long enough in Germany.....you tend to notice things like this.  The modern era might be a bit more appreciated than people think.

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