Thursday, May 17, 2007

DigitalRich and the Munich Symphony Orchestra

One of my best friends growing up was a gent named Achim Gross. His father worked for the West German government, and was stationed at the West German Embassy in Washington D.C. We hung out together and with our mutual friend Tim Hazen constantly.

As my 18th birthday approached in March of 1984, I learned an important lesson in that senior year at High School. Foreign embassies are truly sovereign soil and not subject to the laws of the United States. This was very important to me, especially when I was able to go on the embassy grounds and have a beer at 17 years of age without any trouble.

Why am I remembering all this now and writing about it on DigitalRichDaily? I’ll tell you. Yesterday I had lunch with a record company president and we rode together in his Audi Quattro. As soon as I saw the car, the memory of Achim and 1984 flooded my mind.

That fall Achim got Tim and me an awesome job. $500 a day kind of awesome. Audi was sponsoring the Munich Symphony Orchestra’s US Tour, and Audi contacted the West German embassy for help while the orchestra was in the states. They asked if the embassy could round up volunteers to drive the members of the orchestra around town during their stops in NYC, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, LA and a few other major cities. Audi would provide a fleet of brand new cars at each city for the volunteers to use while whisking the members about town to lunches, shopping, and then the big show in the evening.

Achim’s dad was put in charge of the DC duty, and Achim volunteered Tim and I. The coolest part was that Achim’s dad made special arrangements for us three to keep the cars 24/7 during the multi-day stay the orchestra was making in the nation’s capital. So, we were all able to drive our sporty new 1985 (yes- fresh next year models) Audi Quattro’s about town. I went to pick up mine, and headed home. The next morning I got up and headed to class (Montgomery College freshman) excited to show-off my awesome ride. I had time to get through all my morning classes, and then to the Four Seasons Hotel to pick up my assigned orchestra members. It was a bit rainy, but not too cool. I reasoned that I could probably drive with the sun roof open once I hit enough speed and the rain stopped pouring in the car.

Got to class on time, wrapped up my morning, and jumped in the car to head to DC. There was a group of students nearby and they posed the perfect opportunity to gun the engine and show off the Audi. I slipped the engine into gear, gunned the accelerator, and popped effortlessly into second and then third gear as I whipped out of the parking lot and along the winding tree lined college drive. Then something not good happened. I started skidding.

I slid to the left, I overcorrected to the right, and shot right off the road, bounded down a hill, and slammed hard into two massive trees. Not one, but two. Its as if God himself arranged for those two trees to grow exactly in their place so as to mature to have a space in between them exactly 3 feet narrower than the front-end of a 1985 Audi Quattro. With a massive tree embedded into the front of the Audi- one on each front quarter panel- the engine struggled, hissed, and then cut-off. I had to roll down the window of the car to get out as both front doors were jammed shut. I was devastated. And very worried that a large mean giant German man was going to kill me.

I called Achim and he picked me up. We drove to his dad’s office and I broke the news to him. It was not a fun conversation at all. He started screaming at me in German, and then finally explained that I was to go to Audi’s DC offices and tell the executive in charge of the tour what I did. The Audi exec threatened to make me pay for the car, but calmed down after he reminded himself that he was not authorized to let us use the cars personally, but had granted Achim’s father’s request to allow us to use them. He asked me where the car had been towed to (I told him it was still stuck between two trees at the college), and then asked me to leave and to make sure he never saw my face again.

Great memories.






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1 comments:

Keith said...

Great story. I'm still laughing. Would your screen name happen to be Ferris?