There’s a title you weren’t expecting to read! But I promise they have something in common.
I know I have been here in Germany for less than a year, and there is no way I can really know or understand the culture about everything yet. And I probably never will. But let’s think this through together. What do we know about Germans and cars. Well, we know they manufacture some great cars! They have the Autobahn and they drive efficiently VERY FAST! Now let’s add other traits we notice in Germans, they follow rules. I don’t know if this is all Germans or East Germans, but they just do. Remember the post about not EVER crossing the street without the green lit up Ampelmann!
Even if there is not a car for miles, they wait. Also from what my German friends have told me, there’s still a lingering sense of duty the East Germans feel toward many things. So now let’s think about car maintenance. Even when Jason was looking into buying used cars, he was told that German’s take good care of their cars. They maintain them perfectly according to the user manuals and you don’t see a lot of old cars on the road. Most people are driving pretty nice cars from an American perspective
So I show up to get an oil change and I’ve made my first cardinal sin, I never swapped out my summer tires for my winter ones. Granted, there has not been a speck of snow on the ground this winter, but still, I haven’t done it. Well there are major penalties for this. Like if I were to get in an accident, my insurance may not cover it if I didn’t have the proper tires installed. So when they were done with the oil change, they scolded me for not switching tires, and then further discussed other work that needs to be done on the car. The information was given in such a way that, I just felt totally guilty, like I NEED to take care of these things. This is SO different in America. In the US, they do your oil change, sure they try to upsell you a bunch of stuff sometimes, and they will let you know of any problems they see, but that’s it. It’s up to you what you do with that information. You walk out with a diagnostic paper, you go home, make some decisions, and you schedule service if and when you decide to fix the car. It was just so different. I felt like a kid in school getting busted for chewing gum.
Now I’m not saying one way is better than the other. I mean if you’re going to be driving your car on the Autobahn at insane speeds, it probably needs to be well maintained. It’s just very different.
Ok, now braces. So after searching for an orthodontist that spoke English, we made it to our first consultation. The orthodontist is great, he’s kind, and thorough, and offered a great treatment plan. We are here in Germany for a limited time, so I’d like to see them installed ASAP! Like let’s get started already, right?! At the end, he explained what would happen in the next appointment next month: we would discuss the actual diagnosis from the impressions and X-rays. Then, if we agree with the treatment, we will schedule to install them a month later. WHAT? We’re talking 3 months to even get INTO braces? So I ask, when we meet next month, can we also install the braces during the same visit.
OH MY GOSH! The totally confused look back was a dead giveaway that that was not a remote possibility. This is not how it’s done. We have a procedure. But it gets worse, we showed up a month later, and after explaining the plan and a brief examination, he suggests Dallin practice brushing better for a month, and IF his brushing has improved, THEN we can discuss installation. I’m like WHAT?!!! No, no, no, I’ll MAKE him brush, put the darn braces on already!!!!
We were able to bypass that delay, he put some spacing bands on his molars and the scheduled installation would be in a week. But after installing the bands, he expressed his reservations in installing the braces on his top teeth (you know the one’s Dallin banged up in October), until we get a second opinion from his dentist. So, a root canal to a dead front tooth, and another week later, we are here, getting them installed.
Now, of course, I can’t necessarily label this experience a German thing. I understand his orthodontist might just be very conservative and careful, but I feel like it’s a bit the same. Particularly when I asked if we could combine appointments, the utter shock on his face was priceless, like we just don’t do that! In the US, Em didn’t need extensive orthodontia, just a simple straightening up, and after seeing 2 other orthodontists for consultation, we choose to use the last one, I said after the exam, how soon can we get her started? he said, I have time right now. We went in for a consult and walked out with a full set of braces. The flexibility is just so different.
And seriously, it’s not all bad, in fact A LOT of good. I DO need to take better care of my cars, and my son DOES need to brush better, and Dallin really DID need that root canal, so in the end I’m glad it all worked out how it did. It’s just all so different.
And it’s stuff like this that makes it all so entertaining. Even the mundane day to day living. It’s just so different!