Fahrvergnügen and me


Since we are back from Germany, we have been talking about buying a new car. For everyone that knows our present car, an old purplish Saturn, you know why we need a new one :). We decided on a VW Golf Diesel and if possible with manual transmission. I love driving manuals and with all the advantages automatics might have, I still think the Fahrvergnügen is kind of lousy. We talked with car dealers, test drove one car and finally had a very good offer on a brand new Golf. We had scheduled a last appointment to test drive ‘our’ car and then intended to sign the papers. The appointment was on Saturday afternoon. Around noon we got a call from VW Oakland dealership informing us that all sales on diesel cars have been stopped until further notice. How curious!

Now we know that VW fucked up! To update you on the facts: The German car giant has admitted cheating emissions tests in the US! According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some cars being sold in America had devices in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. It is unbelievable, but what does that mean to me; being German living in the United States?  

My choice for buying a Golf is mostly based on sympathy for a German company, their reputation and the looks. But, it has also sentimental reasons. I feel a little bit like home, sitting in a VW and especially in a Golf. Being so close buying a car that got pulled off the market the day we wanted to purchase it, makes me feel cheated and betrayed. It is weird, but I do feel that. Germans are stereotypically known for their direct and honest approach, for their punctuality, thoroughness, realism, efficiency and for their engineering to name a few characteristics. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Fiat has launched such a fiasco or any turkish car company, but Germans! No way!

We Germans worked so hard to acquire these stupid stereotypical adjectives and I am annoyed about VW doing its best to ridicule them with their dumb attempt to make diesel engines appear better than they are. What were they thinking? What is behind that totally outrageous behavior? Did VW really think, they could cover up that major lie? I don’t believe that, believing it seems to be even more silly and I wish I would be amused by it.

I cannot answer these questions and I think it is more important for me to answer another one: Why do I take a big corporate company’s scandal personally? What does their mess have to do with me and why do I react so surprisingly strong?

I believe, if I lived in Germany my behavior would have been different. Maybe I would have shaken my head a few times and had made a few superficial comments but not much more. I think as a German immigrant, I just don’t want any German company cheating on the country I have chosen to live in. It is immoral and simply wrong. I am not sure how many of all the terrible things Germans have done in the past I still carry, but I do notice that I want to represent some of the German stereotypes, especially the ones I always detested when I was a teenager. I cannot even say if I like that or not, but I understand that I honor more German characteristics than I was ever aware of living in Germany. I feel responsible shedding light on us Germans and I even want to expand our qualities to more loveliness, creativity and lightness. Aren’t these goals an ambassador has for her home country?! At least I can thank VW for helping me unwrap these hidden goals of mine!


6 thoughts on “Fahrvergnügen and me

  1. Dear Carmen,
    you wanted to buy a brand new VW Golf??? What for? I’m nearly glad, something came in between…:-)
    Well I think you wrote a touching blog about something…but for sure bigger than cheating on a country! I’m living in this germany country, and it’s been a shock to hear about this VW thing…not because of the fact that. That didn’t surprise me. But a shock, that it’s a huge dimension, that the public meaning tries to imply that nobody what ever think to do something like this… Capitalistic economy is build on lies! and on trying to trick against the other competitor. We could know this, but we want things to believe they are fair, honest…whatever. and a shock, that first reactions in Germany were like, well that happende far away. No, now they speak about 11 million cars…and they just speak about VW! Yesterday The head of board dismissed, today they speak about other heads…at least.

    Changing theme: I can so much relate to your revealing about the German soul inside, the difficulties to acknwoledge them, to realise the klischees are true, and even inside me. I was ofte embarresd to reveal that I#m german…there is so much about guild in us. But maybe the concept of belonging to a country is not appropriate? After living some years in two foreign countries, and meeting a lot of travelling people, I think we are much more regional than we would like to, something about tribes and earth…which is already “besetzt” to think as a german!
    Maybe we are no global species…and we try so hard…Or do others want us to be something we are not (that could bring us back to capitalism…)

    And back to where I started:-) My first question is beyond that I’m happy you can afford a reasonable new car, honest, because I think it is such a waste of ressources to get a new car. Also from cars that proved already their sturdiness we can’t be cheated so easy. And hey, as a german to a german…you are in california, and Toyota make really good cars. But we can’t say this here:-) I’m very much in to post capitalism societies ideas, so I might appeare too hard on you, sorry!
    But something I’m convinced where we germans are having a “spleen”…the fahrgefühl of modern automatic transmissions is so much better than the shift gears!!! especially combinde to a modern diesel!!! Honestly they “go up” like hell AND whenever you want you can switch to manual!
    love from home

    • Lieber Christoph,
      danke für diese ausführliche Antwort!! Wir hatten uns für ein neues Auto entschieden, weil die gebrauchten genau soviel gekostet hätten, wie ein nagelneuer Golf Diesel!
      Ich werde mir die Automatic Schaltung noch einmal anschauen, die Idee, von einem Wechsel von Automatik zu manueller Schaltung hört sich ja gar nicht schlecht an 🙂
      Inzwischen sind wir an dem Punkt, wo wir vielleicht ein elektrisches Auto leasen ….

      Ich stimme Dir zu, wahrscheinlich sind alle große Unternehmen auf Lügen aufgebaut, aber ich habe immer noch diese moralische Vorstellung in mir, dass das einfach nicht sein kann, zumindest nicht bei allen!

      Je länger ich in den Staaten lebe, desto mehr sehe ich, dass wir definitiv regionaler sind als wir glauben. (Hätte mir das jemand mit 15 gesagt, ich hätte vehement mit dem Kopf geschüttelt!).

      Liebe Grüße nach Hause,

  2. Dear Carmen,

    it brings you more away from Germany. From what you like, what you are, bzw. identify with. Perhaps it sometimes not easy to be so far away?


    • Liebe Jenny, manchmal ist es einfacher so weit weg zu sein und dann wieder schwieriger… kommt auf so viele Faktoren an.
      So weit weg zu leben, bringt mich ehrlich gesagt oft näher an die Dinge, von denen ich geglaubt habe, dass ich damit durch bin. Zum Bespiel der deutsche Pragmatismus! Ich bin oft so pragmatisch, dass ich es selbst nicht glauben kann! und erst hier sehe ich, dass das eine Eigenschaft ist, die ich an mir wertschätze!

      Liebe Grüße,


    How could you?
    We trusted you.
    We bragged about your products,
    how inventive
    how good for the planet.
    And now we’re told –
    you lied!

    How could you?
    And worst of all
    my dear German born
    was about to proudly purchase
    a diesel car from you.
    You’ve left her
    broken hearted,

    How could you?
    I will giver her
    a great big hug.
    But you…
    You’re off my shopping list –

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