Saturday, September 10, 2011
Germany 2: BMW Mecca
Today, SH realized a dream.
Well, it might not have been his dream. I don't know what he dreams because he never wakes up and says, "You won't believe what I dreamed last night." He does not consider this to be interesting conversation, especially if I am the one who had the dream and says, "You won't believe."
My dreams - as in fantasies, not what I really dream about (I usually dream I am back in college and just discovered I have a final the next day in a class I thought I had dropped or that I am in high school and can't find my locker) - are usually things like I have been locked overnight in a bakery or I am thin and gorgeous with People to buy me clothes that look great on me and brownies and Nutella no longer have any calories.
If SH had a fantasy, it might be that he was a politician with a serious policy-making role and everyone would do it his way. Or that at least I would do things his way. Or that he got to spend a lot of time around cool cars.
I don't know. Maybe he doesn't have fantasies at all, or at least fantasies about cars. He does, however, subscribe to several car magazines and can rattle off data about any car we pass. Things I didn't even know people cared about, although I can look at a purse and tell you if it's crap or not. So maybe we aren't so different after all.
The first time we came to Munich together, two years ago, we tried to take the BMW factory tour. No luck. The tour fills up months beforehand and as SH knows only weeks beforehand when he is taking a trip, we didn't have a chance.
Still, we went to BMW Welt, which is the showroom/museum right next to the Munich BMW plant where the tour takes place, and looked around.
SH looked around. I brought my mp3 player and listened to some podcasts for an hour.
Then SH went to Germany again six months later. I tried to get him on the tour but no luck.
This time, 30 minutes after we checked into the hotel on Monday and before I had even taken a shower, I took the BMW tour phone number, took the elevator downstairs because yes I am that lazy that I cannot walk down three flights of stairs plus my feet hurt, a situation that has not improved over the past few days and made me think that it might be time to make the tradeoff between cute razor blade shoes and ugly as sin but don't hurt me shoes, and found the concierge, Maximillian.
I explained our sad tale: that we had tried and tried and had never been able to get on the tour and my German was not good enough * for me to call to ask if there were any last-minute cancellations and would he call for me.
After forcing me to make my request to him in French because I had to explain that although I do not speak German, I can speak Spanish and get by in French because I cannot bear for people to think I might not know things, Maximillian called BMW. I couldn't tell if it was a good conversation or not because German sounds kind of harsh no matter what is being said.
But when he got off the phone, he was smiling. "I told them they had to put you on the tour. HAD TO! I promised them you would buy a car."
As my jaw dropped, his eyes twinkled and he winked. "I didn't say it would be full sized. They sell little" - he spread his thumb and forefinger three inches apart - "ones there."
Then he explained that the tour was full but that SH and I were to show up at 11:00 (for the 12:00 tour) and to show the ticket people his card so we would jump to the head of the line in case there were a cancellation.
So at 11:00 we were there. The information girl had no idea who Maximillian was, but SH noticed on the tour information board that there were two places for the 12:00 tour. "Oh yes," the girl said. "They just cancelled."
Well could we have those spaces?
Sure, she said, and started typing.
SH pulled out a piece of paper. "I'm a member of the BMW club" (yes, he is) he explained. "There's a discount for club members."
I wonder what other clubs SH might be a member of. Will I find a Star Trek card in his wallet after he dies and I have to clean everything out?
So not only did we get on the tour, but we got it at a discount, which you guys know is one of my favorite things. Why pay retail is what I say.
And the tour was actually interesting, which I knew it would be. I love factories. I am a manufacturingphile. I yawned when the guide described all the different BMW cars, but loved watching the robots weld and assemble and paint.
And there was the people watching. There was a family from the Middle East - or maybe Indonesia - where the mom was wearing a head scarf. They had two little kids with them, one who had to be carried. Why you would take little kids on a tour like that I do not know. I was surprised BMW let them into the factory. There was a kid with a Justin Beiber haircut** that did not move at all when we got outside and into some very strong winds. That was some amazing hair product he found.
And at least three of the people on the tour were wearing orange tennis shoes, which appear to be quite popular over here, which made me think that they were Germans crashing the English-language tour because the German tour was full.
A word about shoes. I have already mentioned that I am considering making the tradeoff between cute and comfortable and no, I don't care what you say, it is not possible for shoes to be both, at least shoes that are comfortable for walking five miles on city sidewalks in one day. Most of the Germans I have seen made that switch a long time ago. So many things here are stylish and neat - the buildings, the fountains, the cars, the light fixtures (not the decor of our hotel room, alas, unless you like trailer park style with mirrors over the bed which I do not) - that it seems rather odd that the shoes here are so darn ugly.
However, it could be that Germans walk more and walk on cobbled sidewalks and have decided that not having your feet sliced by razor blades is more important than looking good. I guess I just don't have enough German in me to go there. Yet. But I am getting there.
* My German is good enough to figure out that "ausfahrt," which I first thought had something to do with farting but SH said no, it means exit, means exit for cars and "ausgang" means exit for people. I think. Although why you would have two words for "exit" when you could have just one, I do not know. I have picked up "bitte" and "danke" and otherwise do a lot of smiling and pointing. Perhaps it's time to learn German.
** I hate that stupid hairstyle. Every time I see it, I want to brush the kid's hair back.