Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Notes from Europe

I rented a car this time. Actually, I prefer to drive rather than take trains. I become more intimate with foreign lands if I have to negotiate their roads.

European cars are much like American ones. The differences are small, but can be irritating. The most obvious differences are the placement of switches, etc., especially those surrounding the steering wheel.

When driving a car, motions like hitting the wipers, bright lights or cruise control are second nature. One doesn’t think about where the blinker switch is.

On the car I’ve been driving today, everything is reversed compared to what I’m used to. When I try to hit the blinkers, I end up washing the windshield. I think I must have the cleanest windshield in the Northern hemisphere today. I give it a good soaking at every corner.

I also have trouble with the lights. On the way to Amiens this evening I was in the left lane, traveling very fast just behind another car. It had been raining slightly, and the roads were dirty, so this time I really did need to clean the windshield. Instead, of course, I flashed the high beams at the poor guy in front of me, even though we were already traveling at something like 180 miles per hour. Being a good driver like Europeans are, he immediately switched over to the right lane so I could pass him. Being embarrassed that I’d just flashed my high beams at him, I couldn’t really slide in behind him inconspicuously. So I sped up to pass, well aware of how fast I was already going.

I was driving a Mercedes diesel. Well, diesels have a lag before acceleration kicks in. So when I stepped on the gas, nothing happened, especially since I was already pretty much cruising. So then I really stepped on the gas, just as the lag was over, and shot by the other guy at what must have approached 250.

He must have been thinking to himself "wow, that dude must really be in a rush..."

Gotta run, more later.

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