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  Edition # 2  
San Francisco, 03-17-1997


How to get a California driver’s license

Angelika The second story that many of you surely will enjoy is one concerning my American driver’s license. Short and briefly, and not to tantalize you: I failed the first driving test, and not because I ran a stop sign or hit a pedestrian but only because I went to fast in the opinion of my tester. He claimed that I simply crossed an intersection on a green traffic light (I was assuming that’s just what green lights are for). Also I should’ve watched my right and left, just in case a drunk driver ran the red light. Sometimes Americans are nuts.

The best is yet to come: The second time I passed it with flying colors. I had a different tester who couldn’t quite get why I failed the first time. He only criticized that I exaggerated watching the scenery for instance on crossing an intersection with green lights. Thank God, you don’t fail in the US if you drive too carefully. To get you an even better idea of American drivers, I quote some sentences of Paul Watzlawick from his book "Gebrauchsanweisung für Amerika“ ("Manual for America"): "The average American is the most reasonable, polite and helpful driver that you could think of and his roads are exemplary. (These virtues explain why American tourists consider European drivers as kamikaze pilots and European roads as tricky and deadly mantraps.) ... You, [the European], on the other hand, are going to tear your hair out when the [American] driver in front of you almost stops at green lights (just to be careful) or stops abruptly at a crosswalk because it seems as if within the next ten seconds there might be possibly someone willing to cross the road.“

It’s amazing how many curiosities and differences you find in daily American life. To get you a taste of what's going on, I'll give you some practical examples. Obviously, these are just general observations, there are certainly exceptions.

Thanks to Boris Kleinbach, kleinbach@ymail.com for translating the original German text to English. Edit

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