Unintended Messaging

It wasn’t intentional – but those who read the message couldn’t have known that. Which means they either laughed or thought I was a dangerous idiot.

When we first moved to Germany we had no vehicle. Which would not have been an issue of we had lived in a large city, but public transit in sleepy Sulzburg leaves a lot to be desired. Weekday evenings the last bus is around 7:30; weekends it is a couple hours earlier.

Buying a car became a priority, and we were blessed to find a one-owner used car, low mileage at a great price. It was 16 years old, but they don’t put salt on the roads here, so it was in great shape.

My understanding was that it had been owned by the proverbial little old lady who only drove it to church on Sunday. A gently used vehicle, and, as I said, the price was right.

It was only a couple of months ago that a friend mentioned the rear license plate holder.

I hadn’t paid any attention to it when we bought the car. There were some words in German, but I didn’t even attempt to translate them, given that at the time my German was limited to “Ja” and “Nein.”

My language skills have improved somewhat, but I had never looked closely at the plate holder until our friend asked about it.

The message reads: Hupen sie Ruhig, ich lade gerade nach. Or, as Google Translate tells me: “Honk quietly, I’m reloading.”

I’d never really noticed the imitation bullet holes on the holder. I think it is supposed to be a humorous warning to anyone who might be tailgating me.

But it isn’t the sort of message I would ordinarily convey to someone. I might be frustrated with you for tailgating, but I wouldn’t threaten you. No matter how much you deserved it.

I don’t own a gun. In this country I don’t even know where to buy a gun. And as tempting as it might be sometimes, i can’t see ever using a gun to convey a message to someone who has annoyed me. Words are more my style.

The roads in this part of Germany can be scary to drive. Tourists stand out for the lack of speed on the twisty roads where it seems there is frequently not enough room for two cars to pass. It wasn’t a problem when they were built and everyone was traveling on horseback. Times have changed, but the roads haven’t gotten any wider.

I must admit I was amused when I discovered that I had been unintentionally rude to other drivers. Still, if they got close enough to read my license plate holder, they probably deserved the warning.


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