Georg Haslberger drives the MAN Christmas Truck 2014 on its first tour. A very special day for him – and for the children at the kindergarten and school in Reichertsheim.
Monday morning at the Munich plant, the place where MAN´s heavy trucks are produced. There´s no end to the drizzle in sight. The weather is not exactly Christmassy, but at least it´s cold at last. "For driving, it´s actually good that there´s no snow," says Georg Haslberger and laughs as he checks the red truck with its colorful trailer once again. "Although the truck is of course fitted with HydroDrive, so it can switch to all-wheel drive at the touch of a button," he adds. Georg Haslberger works as a development engineer at MAN Truck & Bus and is driving the MAN Christmas Truck 2014 on its first tour. "I´m pleased that it finally happened!" he says. Employees can apply to drive the Christmas Truck and suggest the destinations themselves. The only condition is that it must be a social amenity, such as a kindergarten, a school or a hospital. The job at the wheel of the Christmas Truck is one of the most sought-after volunteer missions at MAN. But it also means a lot of work for the marketing team that manages organization of the truck. It has to select drivers from all the applicants and draw up a tour schedule. But it´s fun because they know how important the tour is for both the employees and the children. Georg Haslberger has also applied several times in the past and this year, he can head for his destination - the elementary school and kindergarten in his home borough of Reichertsheim.
Even as he drives out of the plant site in Munich, staff members and other passers-by look inquisitively at the truck. "It does make you feel proud. After all, the truck is something very special," says Georg Haslberger with delight. "My colleagues even wanted me to drive past our office in the truck,." He concentrates as he steers the Christmas Truck onto the motorway. A smile repeatedly flickers across his face whenever other passers-by or drivers admire the truck.
Georg Haslberger joined MAN in 2003, immediately after obtaining his technical diploma. He already had a commercial driver´s license and still enjoys driving. "You have a much better overview from a truck than from a car." Today, he can also show his children some of his work, for they also attend the kindergarten in Reichertsheim. "My daughter Katharina has been asking all week how much longer she has to wait until the truck finally arrives," he proudly reports.
Before stopping at the kindergarten, the truck first heads for the school to make sure that it arrives in good time for the break. But before that, Santa Claus has to be quickly collected. "We can´t arrive without Santa Claus," says Mr. Haslberger laughingly. The first children are already standing by the roadside, waving excitedly as the Christmas Truck turns the corner and drives towards the school. By the time the truck stops, the children can hardly be kept back. Some shout, "Look at the truck, how big it is!" or "I´d like to drive that truck!" The children jump around excitedly in the cold and each of them is given a small present - a plush lion with gingerbread. "I´ve been good, I´ve got something from Santa Claus," one boy proudly announces, while a girl tells her teacher, "You can go up and get a lion too." No problem, the Christmas Truck has brought something for the older children as well. "Our neighbor´s little boy could hardly wait for the truck to come," says one of the local residents who has come along, also curious to take a look. "I really have to see this, of course," says Franz Haslinger. He also works for MAN, his daughter being in the third class at the elementary school. "It´s great that a colleague has managed to bring the truck to our town. We´ve been waiting for this for a long time," he says with delight.
Now it has to move on – the children at the kindergarten are meanwhile getting impatient. When the Christmas Truck arrives, they give it an unusual reception. They line up to sing for Georg Haslberger and Santa Claus, having re-texted a song to meet the occasion. "How many times still to sleep, I ask softly and anxiously. It´s taking so lo lo lo, it´s taking so long. Clearly ring the Christmas bells throughout the house, hurrah, waiting´s at an end, the Christmas Truck is here." While they sing, the children marvel at the impressive vehicle. When Santa Claus begins to hand out the presents, lots of them are still rather shy. However, after a short time, it´s as if their reservation has been blown away. The children even want to climb into the cab. "This is going to take some time before all of them have been inside," says Georg Haslberger, laughing. But he doesn´t mind, he´s happy to take the time. He proudly carries his two children in his arms to show the truck to them and all the others. "I´ve actually managed to make children´s eyes shine," he says with a wink.