Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Deeds done during driving

I might be a bad driver.

This is, of course, by no means a certain conclusion - rather a tentative hypothesis which builds upon circumstantial evidence. I got my driving license a looong time ago, scoring 84% on the theoretical test - which I took at the time as an indication of having invested 4% too much time in learning for the stupid thing. I rather envied my friend Czacky, who managed to score an impressive 81%. In the intervening years I did not drive very much, owning to the lack of a car, although I did take the occasional jaunt in cars lent to me by unsuspecting and/or naive persons.

By the way, there are few things more humiliating than dropping the keys of your brand-new girlfriend's father's car in the Mediterranean, on a Sunday. And then having to phone for help. Try to avoid it if you can.

When I took my girlfriend (still the same as above) to a small island in Croatia (incidentally also the one mentioned above) I couldn't help but notice something that had been nagging me for some time - the way people tend to grip all available handholds when I drive. Also, I am pretty sure the swallowing-frequency of my sweetheart was elevated, but again I can offer no hard data, because she asked me to "please pay attention to the road" in that sweet voice of hers, thereby interrupting my data-gathering. Anyway, the symptoms she exhibited might conceivably be interpreted as nervousness, a conclusion supported by the "rubber-leg-syndrome" that was observable when we came to a screeching halt in Veli Losinj. Although those may also be caused by my rather sexy appearance.

This episode kind of reminded me of an incident a few years back, on that selfsame fated island. I was driving, with my older sister (pale) riding shotgun and her two kids (screeching with either terror or delight) in the back. When leaving the ferry, some guy with a caravan knocked off our wing mirror without noticing.
After debating the incident with some of the ferry crew for about 15 minutes, I decided that we just had to catch the scoundrel and make hime face his crimes. This was rather simplified that the islands in question (Cres and Losinj, joined by a small bridge) only have one major road. So I set off in hot pursuit, which both intensified the paleness of my sister and the screeching of my nephews. Back then I was sure she was pale because of the potential financial loss in repairing the wing mirror, but now I am not too sure. (We actually caught up with the perpetrators, who paid for the damage - yay me!) Anyway, later on my sister exhibited the same "rubber-leg-syndrome". But then, a sample-size of two is hardly conclusive, it could all be coincidence.

Well, last week I had my first accident. To add insult to injury, it is probably also all my fault, at least de jure. De facto, it is all the fault of that stupid swiss guy from Biel. Yes, I am talking to you, BL 8088.
I was happily driving along the E15 near Lyon, France, when the idiot mentioned above suddenly decided that he did not want to take the exit after all. No worries, he thought, I will just yank on my steering wheel as hard as I can, and with the help of the almighty manage to get back on the highway before smashing into the dividing barrier ahead.
His prayer was heard, but myself as a stupid atheist had suddenly a car going about 40km/h slower than myself right in front of me. Well, according to a French officer I talked to over the phone later (I managed it! In French! I am such a polygnome!), what I should have done jump on the breaks and trust in the gods of rubber, asphalt and deceleration to see me through. Instead, being an atheist and (maybe) a bad driver, I swerved.
Now, swerving on the highway (or any other street, for that matter) is always a bit tricky, especially if you don't take the time to look into your mirrors. Because there might be other, innocent cars beside you. In my case there was a brand-new Mercedes CLK.
Bumping into another car at 130km/h is quite a rush, about the equivalent of three or four cups of double espresso. Fortunately for me, the Mercedes and all the cars behind us, we both managed to keep control of our cars, decelerate to the emergency lane and proceed with the hand-waving and filling out of forms. The asshole from Biel did not stop.

Fortunately, the damage to both the Mercedes and my Colt was surprisingly slight. (see photo)

Things I learned from this incident:

*) Don't trust somebody from Biel.
*) Break, don't swerve.
*) Don't leave home without your insurance number (sigh).
*) Mitsubishis are sturdier than Mercedes. (A good thing, since my insurance only covers the damages to the second party, not my own)


*) I might be a bad driver.

Actually, I am looking into doing one of those driving-safety-courses, where you get to slither over soap water with your car to teach you better handling in emergencies.

And maybe there is also a stunt-car course?


  1. wow, i didn't know friend czakler had such an impressive score on his license test .. seems i have to apply some "rubbing-nose-in" method on that account!

  2. Even though I might not be the appropriate person to judge that (remember the drive to Waldviertel where you were the one gripping the handhold as I hurtled the car through some curves that came out of nowhere?), I do not think you are a bad driver. My point is that there are few who do react correctly in such a situation without having attended driving-safety-courses (which are wonderfully mind-boggingly good fun, I am told)

  3. Ponit. I feel better now ;). Also, it is all the fault of my ID. Just ask the phone-support guy at mobilezonenet!

  4. hey, just to defend some guys from Biel: BL means "Basel Land" and not Biel :) So the asshole is to search somewhere else than Biel...

  5. And there I was, needleslly punching innocent people form Biel (Bielese?) in the face... Thanks for the info, I shall transfer my wrath to those wretched men from Basel!