One time sometime in 1999 or 2000 (I think …), when I was driving through Munich (or, more precisely, trying to do so) , I had to stop next to a construction site and a brick dropped down from several stories right onto the bonnet of my car and made a significant dent (and gave me a tremendous shock). I guess I got lucky that I’d had to stop where I was, otherwise it may have come in through the windshield and damaged things that were (and are) important to me. Again, luckily I had no passenger with me whom I would have had to console …
I was lucky enough to find someone from the building company who actually took responsibility, so to get the insurance etc. sorted out was no problem, though it took it’s time. Once I had the OK to have it fixed, I went about it, and here’s a short piece I wrote about an experience I had while my car was being fixed …
You can drive my baby car
I’d been planning to take my car to be repaired for a few weeks now – the dent in its bonnet was on its way to be something like Marilyn Monroe’s beauty spot, something I just cannot have.
Naturally, we’d arranged for me to have a replacement during the time I had to leave my car at the garage, so when I’d taken care and leave of my meanwhile trusted friend, I was taken into custody by a representative of the rental car company, who with his three-piece suite was definitely much better dressed for the snow and the cold than I was with my coat, hat, gloves and once-fur-lined boots. Perhaps the amount of gel in his hair helped keep the cold out … We took to the road (Frankfurter ring, full of cars but clear of snow) in a microscopic car and made our way to the rental company, where we’d do the paper work. Getting out of the car, I asked whether there were winter tires on the car, which produced a dubious look and a shake of the head. For safety, I repeated the request.
After we’d filled in the papers, my representative consulted a colleague about the tire-issue, and got a key from the locker. We then went out to the car park, where he unlocked a car the size of my hat that was painted a ghastly, poisonous lime green, about the colour of very unripe lemons. I almost threw up on the spot, which would have improved the colour no end. It did not get better after he’d cleaned the snow off. Nor where the winter tires much good.
(photo credit: Wikipedia.org – incidentally, this looks very much like the car I had)
Then I set off. As long as I was moving with the crowd, it wasn’t so bad, apart from the moment when a fat BMW almost pushed me out of the way – the driver probably didn’t even notice me, despite the colour. Then I reached the motorway. Stepping on the accelerator was an experience comparable to almost nothing, well, to nothing, actually, because that’s exactly what happened for the first few seconds. Slowly the car would pick up speed, until at about 100 km/h, it would scream its little heart out trying to move faster.
I also noticed that almost the only thing that seems to be standardised apart from the steering wheel is the indicator switch (although this one needed extra strength – they probably think of big blond beefy guys with heavy-weight experience when designing these things); the wind-screen wiper switch works the wrong way (this one goes up for on, mine goes down), and they’d placed the rear-window heater switch next to the emergency signalling light switch, which is a very convenient thing for telling everybody that your rear window is misted up. The heating controls were at a level where I normally don’t bend down to during driving, because I had to put my head on the passenger seat to reach it. Perhaps they intend you to get to know your female co-pilot better this way.
The switch to turn off the fresh air from outside thank-you-very-much only works when you’re not defrosting the windscreen, which leaves you the choice, when following a big lorry, to either die of suffocation or crash into its rear because you can’t see anything, but then, in this car, you’d probably go straight under the lorry and overtake it from below, so to speak.
The cute thing about this car is its fuel consumption. I got it with 7/8ths full, used another 8th, put in 8.85 litres and it was full. Marvellous. You could probably drive it on thimble-fulls.
I guess it’s lucky this all happened in Winter. Imagine taking such a car to your favourite golf club, some ignorant dolt might put it down the next hole without a second thought.
(apologies to the Beatles for borrowing and mangling the famous song title …)