Knee deep in assorted papers that required either a refile or a toss in the trash during the weekend’s attempt to start the year off on a good note, I came across the file that houses the alarming amount of speeding tickets I have acquired over the course of the three years since I scored my German driver’s license. The irony of such an accomplishment is nothing short of laughable since (1) I live in the only country on the planet with no federally mandated speed limit and (2) those who know me well would classify my driving as bordering on dangerously…slow. Personally convinced that 90 percent of the driving population is singularly focused on hitting my car, I drive with a level of caution that leaves V just this side of unhinged when having the pleasure of sharing a ride with me.
A bit of explaining then is needed to understand how I, who has logged in exactly one speeding ticket during the thirty-plus years I have driven in the States, has now managed to acquire a folder of German speeding tickets that would make for impressive bragging rights if designation as The Hotrod of the Highway happened to be your thing. My fair city Köln sits within the Nordrhein-Westfalen province and based on an article I pulled up from 2015, stands as the region with the second largest number of “blitzers” (radars) within the country. Coming in at around 960 in number, German is also known to throw in a roving assortment of the mobile variety just to mix things up during one's early morning commute. V to his credit, has managed to memorize the location of a good percentage of these blitzers and exhibits an uncanny ability to almost smell the others from a sufficient enough braking distance to keep his ticket counter relatively low. I on the other hand was not gifted with such super powers and so in turn pay heavily for my status as a mere mortal.
Those Gosh Darn Beleidigungs
Germany has an unprecedented ability to efficiently manage their internal business and few things stand as a better testament to that than the assortment of catalogs, brochures, guides, and manuals to keep those of us who live here well informed on how they like things to run around here. A document by the name of the Bußgeldkatalog (traffic violations/monetary fines) is a fine example of the country's commitment to the law and order of such things. I am pleased to announce that the catalog's 2017 edition is fresh off the presses, sharing details of the various traffic infractions and the amount of money you will be surrendering if caught making any of them. Since managing to nab my German license without taking any theoretical or practical driving tests, I clearly missed out on the schooling associated with the finer details of this guide. In my better-late-than-never quest to slow down the highway penalties being imposed against my bank account, I thought the time ripe to take a read from this latest and greatest edition.
As one can imagine, your standard run-of-the-mill driving violations were dutifully noted therein. It was when I came upon the section entitled "Beleidigung" however, that I knew things were likely to get a bit more interesting. Beleidigung in English you see translates to "insult.” The catalog from there went on to explain that if found channeling one's respective road rage into name-calling or inappropriate hand gestures, well you can be looking at a coughing up some cash if caught in the act. How this apprehension is to take place was not made clear (citizen’s arrest?) but what was - the provocative names at play and the staggering price tag associated with their usage.
Bußgeldkatalog Beleidigung 2017 Highlights:
1. “Schlampe” (Slut) = 1900 €
2. “Dumme Kuh” (Dumb Cow) = 300 €
3. “Alte Sau” (Old Pig) = 2500 €
No clear details in the catalog as to why being likened to a pig is considered a more serious offense than that of a cow but the differential in price tag clearly illustrates Germany has put in some thinking here.
4. “Idiot” = 1000 €
5. “Du Mädchen!” (You Girl!) = 200 €
This Beleidigung appears to be geared towards protecting local law enforcement from abusive language. If “You Girl” can land a motorist a 200 € fine, I shudder to think of the kind of financial hit your bank account is likely to take if so bold as to name drop any of the first four on this list.
6. “Stinkefinger zeigen” (giving someone the middle finger) = 4000 Euros
I am definitely a little late to the table on this one…