Nimble? Not!

We spent hours on Saturday driving out to have a look at a car we were thinking of buying. We had to change trains twice each direction, and always just missed a train, having to wait 10 minutes for the next one. That was 40 minutes of unnecessary waiting, and 90 minutes for a trip that normally takes 40 (each direction) by car.

I am not patient enough for this.

So I decided to join a car-sharing scheme so that I can quickly obtain a car for such a trip (and for replenishing the juice/water/beer supplies that are dwindling without a car). I decided on Flinkster (flink is a German word for "nimble", sounds good). Since I have a BahnCard, I don't have to pay a monthly fee. The hourly rate is a bit higher, but I don't need it much.

I registered on the web site, and the first strange thing happened. I typed in all my data, then my BahnCard number, and then it wanted me to type in everything again. Dutifully, I did so. I printed out the forms and signed them, and then noted: The telephone number I had put in was not filled in, on the other hand my Prof. Dr. (which is on the BahnCard but which I didn't fill in) was on the form. So if they have the data already, why am I being asked to type it in again?

I was to take the form to any DB Service Point, open every day and in Berlin even on Sundays until 10pm. So on the way home from church I stopped by. First off, I misinterpreted the term "Service Point". I took a number in the ticket office and waited - as the only customer in line - until the clerks finished discussing whatever it was that they needed to discuss. Well, I was wrong, but at least one of the clerks showed me the way.

The information desk was what I needed. I stated my business and was greeted with blank stares. "Flinkster?" Yes, the car-sharing thing. I later saw that there was even an ad for it posted behind them. Hmm. One of the two people starts digging in a drawer and pulls out a folder that has seen better days. They grumble. They mumble. They put something in the computer.

I hand them my papers. One types something in, frowns. Mutters. Types something in again, frowns again. Um, speak to me? It seems there is a problem in the system. I explain that I had to put everything in twice. We mumble and grumble. One of them looks up and says "we are guest workers here, we normally work somewhere else."

I call home and ask for "Tatort" to please be taped. No way I am going to be home on time.

They finally get something going, ask me a few questions, ask for my ID and driver's license. They type in a bit more information, frown a bit more at the screen and my ID. I get both the ID and the driver's license back, wait some more, and then they want the driver's license again, after they discuss something about a sticker. They take my driver's license and affix a sticker to it!

"Wait a minute, that's an official document! You are a private company! Are you allowed to put that on my driver's license?" " Yes, sure, that's how it works!" "I was supposed to get a card." "Oh now, now we put stickers on the driver's licenses."

I get it back while they stamp and sign a bunch of stuff. Sure enough. Another RFID tag. Now, with a separate card I can leave it at home unless I need it. But the driver's license I always have with me, also when driving cars that are not rented by the DB. There are getting to be quite a few RFID chips in my wallet, I don't find that very comforting.

Finally I asked if they had some information on this new sticker-on-the-driver's-license thing. They rooted around a bit, and then I just said thank you and left. The process of getting set up for the Flinkster was all but nimble. I hope the cars are easier to rent.

Got home too late for "Tatort", so I started watching the taping, and then it was a re-run. Auch das noch...

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