Here’s a story that’s sure to put a smile on your face.
A story about an extremely overdue, extremely over-budget government project, which has no end in sight and is destroying careers with anyone associated with it. And the best part about it? It isn’t one of ours. It’s enough to make us feel a little more normal for a change.
Ever since Germany reunified, much to the chagrin of Russia, France and anybody else whom Germany flattened in the Second World War, the entire country has been embarking on massive infrastructure improvements to bring the lands in former East Germany up to modern standards. Especially their capital city of Berlin.
Well, it seems they did a decent job of revitalizing the former “death strip” on the grounds the Berlin Wall used to straddle, where numerous East Germans trying to escape to much more colorful (and free) West Berlin were gunned down during the Cold War like they were in a shooting gallery.
But then someone had the brilliant idea to build a brand-spanking new, glittering 21st century airport for Berlin and make it their crowning jewel accomplishment. It would replace the other three airports Berlin has and set the new standard for international airports in the world. I guess you can see where this story is going.
Now one might think that Germany, the country known for its efficiency, attention to detail, high-quality workmanship, technology and stubbornness would be the last place in the world that would manage to completely muck up a sure thing. But they did.
At last count the project was $6 billion (that’s “b” as in “Brother!”) over budget and eight years overdue. How’s that for inefficiency? And this from the capital of know-it-alls. They have recently pushed back the opening date so far, they won’t even name a year anymore. It’s the project that never ends.
The latest wrinkle that delayed its opening was because it failed a fire suppression system test. Unbelievably, inspectors found out that the system engineer in charge of designing it wasn’t an engineer at all and was promptly (if you’ll forgive the expression) “fired.”
The company designing the system offered a temporary solution. This alternative was extremely low-tech and involved employing 700 fire “spotters” on duty 24/7 instead of the high-tech smoke detecting equipment they promised. How’s that for a modern example of German efficiency? The plan failed when they couldn’t find enough people who could successfully imitate a fire alarm.
The Germans should take heart and find the silver lining in this experience. As a wise man once said, “No one is useless. You can always serve as a bad example to others.” Just don’t let them hear you say that; they might get upset. Because as we all know, a cranky German is a sour kraut.
Congratulations to this week’s winner, Keith Huff. He correctly guessed that “1 = H. in a D.” was “1 = Hole in a Doughnut.” The word “hole” was listed in last week’s column.
Here is next week’s puzzle: “1 = W. the C. S. when the M. R. D. (H. D. D.).”
As usual, at least one of the words is included somewhere in the column. If you think you know the answer, submit your answer at AdVantageNews.com, under the Contests tab, click “Off the Top of My Head Answer” or call the AdVantage News answer line at (888) 532-4441 before noon on Tuesday.
Winners may choose a free lube and oil change from Drake Tire, a $26 value or a $20 gift certificate to Tony’s Restaurant in downtown Alton, Gentelin’s or Jimmy the Greek’s on Broadway in Alton.
Winners will be notified by telephone on Tuesday and must pick up their prize at AdVantage News before 4 p.m.
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