Americans stationed in Deutschland for decades or the ones who were posted here previously tell stories of how until recently you weren’t expected to hide your ‘Americanism’.
For our own protection we are expected to keep a low profile and not draw attention to ourselves. Understandable in today’s geo-political environment.
So within this context I find it funny that our temporary license plate had ‘USA’ written in the corner. Don’t let anyone know your American! Now drive down the street with a license plate that says USA on it. I’m still chuckling thinking about that temporary tag, even as I type this.
Of course we don’t need a USA tag to identify we are Americans. The Toyota Sienna does that just fine for us. There are seemingly hundreds of models of cars in Deutschland due to their access to many European manufacturers. In my mind I question why a Toyota would stick out among all models.
And while the European stereotypes are true regarding small vehicles, it’s simply not universal. When you are driving the streets of Prague or Munich you will see many large Sport Utility Vehicles. As wealth has increased in these European cosmopolitan cities, so has their proclivity towards the American obsession with larger vehicles.
But when I drive down a street or park the Sienna, heads turn. On one occasion I was parked at the Regensburg IKEA and I watched a young couple pass the vehicle and their eyes rolled every surface area of the vehicle. They spotted me spotting them in my sideview mirror as they gazed at the rear of the vehicle. They stopped, then approached me and the man spoke. He was curious why I had brought the vehicle from America rather than just purchasing one here. He wasn’t asking accusingly but rather inquisitively. We spoke for some time and their impressions of Americans were interesting. Chief among them was that Americans are super friendly. I told him he was wrong and stupid for believing that. Just kidding. I tried to support the team and as Costanza would do, I tried to leave him laughing.