The vehicle inspector: Andreas Scherschel from Cologne | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 04.05.2010
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The vehicle inspector: Andreas Scherschel from Cologne

Inspecting cars for faults or damage was not exactly Andreas Scherschel's childhood dream. But today, the inspection engineer and assessor is passionate about his job – mainly, because he's his own boss.

Andreas Scherschel

Andreas Scherschel has a passion for cars

"My father pushed me in this direction," says Andreas Scherschel about his choice of career. But this pressure from his father at a young age has resulted in the 44-year-old being the successful manager of an engineering office with seven employees.

Since 1992, Scherschel has been an independent contractor of the Technical Supervision Association. They're permitted to conduct what's known as the "general inspection" in Germany. Each car in Germany is inspected every two years to ensure it's safe to be on the road. Scherschel's inspection garage in southern Cologne is just one of the places where the inspections can be carried out.

Living from accidents

Cars are Scherschel's world: He's got engine grease in his blood. When it comes to inspections, he treats every car the same. Privately, he has a preference for cars that are "sleek and fast." But his heart also revs a bit faster when he sees an oldtimer driving by.

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Vehicle inspections - not much of the work is done in the office

A daily stress factor for Scherschel, however, is the aggressive behavior of many drivers. "There's nothing worse than German drivers," he says. "They driver around with their blinkers on and never let anyone pass."

At the same time, he has to acknowledge that he makes his living from car accidents. The engineer also does appraisals following an accident. Scherschel is responsible for informing insurance companies about the extent of the damage.

When he has an appointment to assess accident damage, he takes the time to listen to his customer's story. A healthy dose of empathy is very useful in his job. Scherschel knows this from experience: he was recently involved in an accident, and was happy for anyone willing to lend an ear.

It's Friday morning, and he is inspecting a small car that was rammed from the side. He gets out his camera and tools, and carefully looks the car over. Within a few minutes, he's discovered some pre-existing damage, which should not be factored into the calculation of the damage sum. Precision is one of the basic things required of a vehicle inspector.

A man who doesn't want to grow old

In the car and accident branch, Scherschel says he mainly deals with "real guys." And he likes that, because that's also how he sees himself: a man without a feminine side.

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Andreas is the kind of man all women love - says his partner Benina

His partner, Benina Klempmann, confirms this. For her, Scherschel is "the kind of man women wish for." A bit macho maybe, but very charming, and with strong shoulders to lean on. Klempmann only wishes that Scherschel would learn to cook.

The couple have two children: a three-year-old and a three-month-old. It's Scherschel's second family. He also has an 18-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. The classic family image in his house in the Cologne suburb of Huerth is misleading. It may be true that he earns the money while his partner takes care of the house and the kids, but if you ask who has the pants on in the relationship, both immediately answer: "Me, of course!"

At age 44, Scherschel has begun to think about getting older – something he's not entirely comfortable with. "I don't think of myself as being a grown-up," he says. In order to stay young, he does a lot of sport, playing volleyball three times a week. It's not just that it's fun, it also helps the stressed business owner blow off some steam. It does him a lot of good, as for Scherschel, 10-hour workdays – including Saturdays – are the norm.

Author: Anne Le Touzé (dc)
Editor: Rina Goldenberg

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