Tag: driving

Rattle. No Roll

Yet. I am still a bit rattled.
If you follow my waffle here – for what I am thankful – you may remember that I took up a job as driver some moons ago. It is a job to pay the rent, really. That’s how it started, nowadays I would miss the boys if I’d get the chance to work in my profession again, but I’d do this without any question and hesitation. BTW I had a job interview two weeks ago, well, I’m still driving. But it was very nice to see that I am at least still eligible.
I do not write about the day job here, simply because it is just what it is, and because I do not want to be whining.
A driver drives, I do more than three thousand kilometers a month in the vehicle, a pretty large, white, diesel-powered passenger transporter fitted out for the special demands my passengers have. I drive on Bundesstraßen, A-roads, Landstraßen, B-roads, and narrow country lanes. I avoid autobahn, especially when my passengers are aboard. It is simply a risk I do not want to take.
On average it is all three months that a dangerous situation occurs – dangerous as in : A heavy impact is narrowly avoided – and every time this happened on slip roads or on motorway-style enlarged A-roads. On the country lanes everybody, with the notable exception of the dumb boy racer in his old testosterone-fulled BMW or Golf GTI, is careful, the professionals know what they can do with their vehicles. And if it takes ten minutes more, so what ?
The guy who tried to wipe out my codriver and me this evening on the other hand needs a special award.
I was on a motorway-style A-road in the fast lane (that is the left one on the continent). From the right a motorway exit slip feeds in, while to the left is a motorway access regulated by traffic signals. I was not particular fast, noticed a red car on the far right well ahead, my codriver was telling a story. Next I know is that the red car was basically vertically coming from the right, crossing over all lanes to reach the slip road to my left, I was in the process of t-boning him. Thankfully nothing was to my right while I pulled the vehicle over, heavy on the brakes, sliding on the mean trickle we had for the whole day.
While I was still rolling ahead & sorting my gears to stabilise my swaying bus the little piece of crap came back. It was seemingly not the gateway he liked, or the red lights did not match his seats, or maybe he just wanted to avoid ramming the car that was waiting at this damn traffic light, I do not know. All I know is that we had the same affaire again, this time from the left. He pulled in front of me less than a meter away while I was accelerating to control my vehicle and all of a sudden I thought that it would be a good idea to ram the basted to nirvana.
He drove a kind of cabriolet in red, I think it was Mercedes, and now he put the pedal to the metal and outpaced me easily. I realised that he lifted the foot when I came closer. Some hundred meters ahead to the right is a parking slot, and all of a sudden he pulled sharply to the right over the slow lane and the exit into said parking area, of course without indicator or any shown regard he rammed the car in there, still sliding with locking wheels when I thundered by. Following in would have meant a serious disaster with an unavoidable collision. I only hope he ran his car into the mud and ripped the suspension out.
All this took less time to happen than it takes you to read this, I am pretty sure it was less than ten seconds : No time to think & reflect, just action.
My vehicle took it easy, afterwards she was revving freely doing hundred km/h without any effort at 1600 rpm. Smart thing – I want to thank FORD for building a reliable and stable vehicle that one can throw around over three lanes like a wet towel without any damage done to suspension, brakes, or wheels : After more than hundred thousand kilometers, or sixty thousand miles, of heavy duty – well done !
Oh yes, thanks to the unknown driver in red, adrenalin is good, keeps the veins free from stuff. See you in three months again, bloody moron.

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Physics

Where one physical body is the other can not be. And if forced, both collide : bang goes the mirror.
Some of the villages I drive through every day, are pretty old, so the roads and streets tend to be narrow. Usually … this morning I entered one of these bottlenecks while another vehicle came in my direction, and both left hand mirrors came into contact.
I was really flabbergasted and looked at the thing in disbelief while I was still going ahead, I realised my slow reaction and brought the car to a standstill. Walking back the other driver came my way, we chatted a bit until I realised that he was really a bit shocked. His hands were shaking when he lid a cigarette.
We had a look at my bus, and while my co-driver was busily shouting insults and then turned towards her phone to call the headquarters, I walked with the guy to his car. It was totally unharmed : The glass not shattered, the mirror’s shell unharmed (not even a scratch !), door alright, no scratches. So we decided to swap cards, he gave me the one of his chief, the owner of the vehicle, while I gave him the one of my dispatcher. He inhaled half of his ciggie while we talked about this & that, me gently ignoring his bright red swollen right eye, thankfully my co-driver was too distant to be understood. My bus only suffered from a broken mirror shell / box. Later, while a new mirror was installed (they have them stored in bulk), I talked to my dispatcher, and that was that.
After having dented my mirror I encountered at least another three near misses this morning, when idiots decided to overtake either my vehicle or oncoming traffic against any better judgement. So I felt very happy for the new brake pads that were installed some days ago, they are run-in now, that’s for sure.
In the afternoon I lost my cool a bit when someone decided to make a full turn over all lanes in front of my bus while I was approaching at nearly one hundred kilometers an hour, then he settled into slumber mode instead of pushing that damn pedal to the metal, thus gently providing me with a chance to show my driving skills. I gushed out some colourful words about the driver’s family, sexual behaviour & general capabilities, and was promptly corrected by the young man sitting next to me with a stern “Das sagt man nicht !” / “Mind your language !” Yeah, education is great. Perhaps he learned something new.
Tomorrow again, another day on the roads of Franconia. I blame the sun, it triggers the release of hormones, and especially young males in old cars with lowered suspension and fat tyres suffer from embiggified glands. Poor sods. I do my best to keep them alive, and my kids unharmed, but in the end it’s steel, a big diesel, and a prayer.

And just because, let’s go down to the crossroads – yes, old fat white man’s music, but I like it, perhaps because I am an old fat white man, and Mr Clapton still can use his fingers.

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Bah !

I do know that I’m not photogenic, so as any slightly vain and self-conscious person I avoid to be photographed in public. Especially on “occasions” like a reception or a convention – as if I would attend such “occasions” on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis !
The last time I attended an official event it became a kind of game between me and the photo snapper of the village gazette. I did not wear insignia or badges, as most of the grey-haired gentlemen attending did, but only a small button on the right side of my jacket, and stood out like the proverbial sore thumb. Instinctively I always found something interesting to look at when the click-machine was turned at me, usually it involved to move the head behind one of those grey-haired skulls. I think I got out un-clicked. I am not as good as an old school-friend, who managed to vanish even from the obligatory class-photo …
But what the Bavarian police sent to me today in a letter is a plain insult.
Yes, it was taken on a whim, spontaneous, and on the go, one could even call it action-photography, not carefully lighted in a warm studio against black background. The chiseled lines of my significant face blur into an amorphic grey mass against a more or less black “background” – sfumato ? Grisaille ? Or incompetence, after all ?
Anyway, it’s just a lump on 6,7 x 5 cm. And they even demand me to pay 25 € for this !
Really, this inspector should put a little more care & effort in his work !

Fohrn

The first autumnal storm arrived this evening. The temperature fell notably. Yesterday evening I had to kill four (!) monstruous bloodsucking mosquitoes before I could fall into my bed, through the day I had heard birds singing their spring songs, a magnolia in a garden nearby was budding – now we are up to the regular weather pattern with strong wind, fog and cold rain : No more mosquitoes.
This morning I watched people de-icing windscreens in the villages where I picked up kids, and got a first idea of the fog-situation in some areas of the road, it will be fun.
Getting up very early in the morning works remarkably easy. I cope with it & am fully awake when I drive out of town, latest. But I must sleep when I come home some hours later. I made the mistake to get over the “dead point” two times this week and it became not very nice afterwards, because I could not really sleep before my afternoon turn, just dozed a bit. In the long(er) run a good practice will establish itself, it’s only experience. The afternoon drive is easier than the morning one, simply because I do not have to be at a certain location at a certain time. The kids do want to get home by then, they had a long day at their institution, I can drive as I like. The ice is braking, we do get along. Car is full, five boys, including one in an electrical wheelchair, add the co-driver & me. The “music question” remains, but there is also a solution in reach.
One thing does not work easy for me, going to bed early enough. I always was an “owl”, a person who goes to sleep pretty late, I can’t pull this off now. The structure of my evenings changed a lot, generally the times over or through the day when I usually did certain things – like eat, read, trawl the web – these daytimes / dates change ; in the end I have to find a new rhythm. And I’m eagerly awaiting this month’s settlement, after all it really is more work and more kilometers & it should have a positive effect on the payslip.
Summa summarum, ‘s schuggeld sich ei’.
I’ve never seen so many mornings before in my life.