Just then, my audiobook ended and I was about to put the radio on, when it went ‘grrrrrrgrgrgrggrgrr’ and ‘kaboosh’.

‘Oh my God, what’s up with the radio? Are my speakers broken?’ I asked myself. Then one of my passengers spoke up…..

‘I think the noise is coming from your car.’ What? Panicking, I turned off the radio, hoping that the noise would click off.
‘grrrrgrgrgrgrgr’. Shit.

Christine Neder

Next impulse – pull over, hazards on. Thankfully my passengers were both male, mid-forties and knew what to do. One of them got out, rummaged around in my trunk, found my breakdown triangle and set it up. The other had a look under the car. I put on my neon orange reflective vest that I got for christmas last year.

‘There’s something hanging down. Your catalysor I think’, one of the wise men said. ‘Okay, I’ll call someone. Where are we?’ I asked.

‘Just passed exit XY. (I’ve forgotten the name again)’, the other wise man said. Thank Goodness they were with me. I would have had to walk to the next exit to find out where I was. I distanced myself from the car a bit, just so I was out of earshot of my passengers, and called my Dad. I was a bit embarrassed, since I had no clue what to do, and he told me about some car documentation in the glove compartment and a number to call. So, I did, and the guy from the towing service said he’d be there no earlier than in an hour. And I was told not to wait in the car. Too dangerous with all those lorry drivers racing along nowadays. My passengers smoked a cigarette or two, and I fed them christmas biscuits that I’d luckily packed in my handbag. They seemed to take the news well, though they did decide to sit in the car as it was freezing cold. I however, obediently, decided to stay away from the car, stood on the grassy banks of the motorway, watched cars speed over the glossy wet tarmac and felt my feet get colder and colder. After 15 minutes the only thing I could feel was the light pressure waves when a lorry passed me. They swayed me back and forth lightly. I’m not saying it was silent and quiet, but somehow calm. I found it strangely relaxing. Finally, all I could do was stand still and sort through my thoughts. I soon realised it wasn’t all as stressful and complicated as my mind kept telling me. My panic of not getting through my neverending to do list dissipated. I got exactly what I needed: time to think, to put things into perspective, to regain clarity. Obviously, it would have been way cosier doing this with a cup of tea in front of a fire. Did life know that I needed this? That I needed a broken down car, an incredibly slow towing service, a place I’m trapped in and no laptop to distract me? Perhaps life is in fact the best teacher after all.

After two hours he arrived, and instead of taking us to Hamburg, merely 22 km away, he took us back 20 km. ‘My territory ends here’, he grumbled. I remained calm. Was happy to sit up front, watching my feet thaw. At the garage everything went quickly. Handed in my keys, filled in a form, got keys to a rental car, repacked, made sure we forgot nothing. It was 11:15 pm by the time we were on the road again. Back to Hamburg. I put the radio on, turned it up, and didn’t even mind being stuck in traffic again. I rejoiced at my newfound peace and talked to myself ‘Don’t worry Christine, you’ll get up early, make coffee, power up your laptop and work through your list’.
Hang on, where was my laptop anyways? Oh no. I dreaded the answer. Unbelievable. I left it in my car, hidden away under the driver seat. And wouldn’t get it back until the next evening….

Dear life, please don’t try to teach me everything at once. An evening on the motorway was fine, but a whole day without my laptop? That’s just mean!


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