I was drinking in the notion that, according to the Global Status Report on Health and Alcohol, Germany is the 22nd most inebriated country in world (the U.S. came in a pathetically puritan 57th), when I discovered some fine and sober German ingenuity.
BMW, the folks who make cars for the highly self-aware, has just opened a factory where, aside from Watson's distant uncles, all the employees are aged over 50.
Somehow, we get lured into believing that all technological progress is created by young, slightly impersonal people in gray t-shirtsonly for the president of the United States.
However, BMW is conscious that there aren't so many gray-shirted, facial-hair-free humans with the skills to work in a car plant. So it has, according to the Daily Mail, created a car plant staffed only by gray hairs. Specifically, those over 50.
Situated in Dingolfing, Bavaria, the factory has reportedly earned the nickname Altstadt--or "Old Town." And BMW's new concept is to attract those who might have previously been laid off or even retired to an atmosphere in which their valuable skills can be put to use satisfying some of the more careless drivers in Northern California. (Just a personal observation, that.)
Rather that simply throw the over-50s back into a plant they used to know, BMW has given considerable thought to making the new facility more appealing to those who have brought up kids and therefore spent at least half their lives bending over backward.
The most basic move toward this goal was to give all the workers ergonomic seating that allows their backs to be coddled. The company has also made the tool trolleys mobile, thereby allowing the tools to come to the worker, rather than forcing the worker to bow down to the tools.
BMW has also put in little exercise pulleys, the sort you see people grunting over at the gym. These allow the workers to have, say, a seventh-car stretch. They've even made the production line a third slower.
With obvious hearty corporate pride, a BMW representative told the Mail: "This is, worldwide, the first plant designed for such workers and is an example of the BMW motto: Today for Tomorrow."
I wouldn't dream of suggesting that some of these workers have only returned because yesterday they had a little too much money flowing in the tides of credit default swaps.
However, perhaps they've actually returned to work because they got bored of golf, or they miss the companionship of fellow artisans.
I cannot, though, confirm that BMW will soon be launching a new, astoundingly ergonomic 220 mph roadster, called the BMW Cocoon, specifically designed for those whose nests are now empty.