Seriously, I mean it. I really love the Germans. They’re largely a humorless bunch, but I’m OK with that. It took some learning, but I have finally figured out that I must leave my sarcastic wit at the hotel when I have meetings with German business people.
Bruce (breaking the ice in the meeting): “Nice to meet you, Ludwig. We sure got a beautiful day to visit Frankfort.”
Ludwig (looking out the window at a torrential rainstorm): “No, not really so much. It’s raining some today. Tomorrow is supposed to be nicer.”
Bruce: “Uh, yeah, you’re right. I guess it’s not that nice out today.”
But, that’s my fault – shame on me for my cultural insensitivities. So, I’m here in Germany now and was just reminded, by one of the little things, why I love the Germans so much. I’m here on a whirlwind trip during which I’m passing through Holland, France, Germany, Switzerland, and London in 5 days.
To digress for a moment, I will stop short of saying I love the French, but I do love France (my friend, Pete, once said, “France would be great, were it not for the French.”). We sit here in the US making fun of their 35 hour work weeks and 2 hour lunches that involve 2 bottles of good wine while we, um, work our asses off for 70 hours a week and drink 2 cans of Diet Mountain Dew at lunch. Excuse me. Tell me again who should be laughing at whom?
Back to Germany. I just had an absolute nightmare of a travel experience at the Munich Airport. I will not elaborate because (a) you won’t give a shit and (b) I’m likely to experience another brain aneurysm if I do. Long story short, I got to the airport and had no ticket on any flight due to my travel agent’s mistake. After an hour of running between terminals only to miss the flight I was supposed to be on, I finally got booked on a later flight and headed to the Lufthansa lounge, frustrated, tired, and sweating my arse off. To be blunt, I needed a beer and I needed it fast. Or as Norm Peterson once said on Cheers when Coach asked him if he wanted a beer, “yes, absolutely, I need something to do while passing the time until I drink my second beer.”
Now, if you go to the average airline lounge in Atlanta or Washington or Miami, they will have a bar and you can certainly order a beer. Probably a Miller Lite. And, they will likely have a reasonably fancy coffee machine that can dispense several different varieties of putrid coffee by selecting different buttons on the machine. But, here’s what they will not have – a special self-serve tap from which can select a beer with specific level of foam.
Seriously, check out the photo. There’s a Lowenbrau (the real one, not the crap you used to be able to buy in the US) tap where you can push the button on the left to get less head or the button on the right to get more head on the beer. Please click on the picture to enlarge it to really appreciate this genius. I have to confess that in all my years of beer drinking, I have never once been asked “how much foam would you like in your beer?” No, you just get what you get. A freshly tapped keg at a college fraternity party might yield 6 inches of foam. An ice cold beer in a frosty glass, none. But, it really isn’t your choice. To use an expression I hate, it is what it is.
Not in Germany. They may be too serious to understand my hysterically funny wit, but, damn, they are serious about their beer. Think about it – there’s probably no place in any country less likely to offer you a bunch of choices than an airport lounge. But, even at the airport lounge, the Germans are so serious about their beer that you get to choose the amount of foam you get…..from an automated tap.
In case you’re wondering, I went with the button on the left. After my ordeal, I needed more beer, less foam. But, I was most grateful to have the choice.
God Bless the Germans.