It was late tonight in the office.
First, I had a training till 5:30 pm.
Then I had a call till 6:45 pm. And then I realized that my clever plan to ask someone who would leave at the same time to drop me off at Alice’s place was not so clever anymore, because everybody seemed to have left the office already. I had not wanted to bother her, but it looked like I would have to ask Alice to pick me up.
But then I saw Pedro who was about to leave.
Leo: Hey, would you mind dropping me off at Alice’s place before you go home?
Pedro: Not at all…
Cool! I sent a message to Alice, telling her I hitched a ride and I’d be home soon.
Pedro: … but I am not sure you realize what you’re getting yourself into.
Huh?! He mumbled something about a small, old car, but I did not pay much attention. After all, as long as it has wheels, it should do the job, I thought (spoiler alert: it did).
When we arrived at his parking spot, I understood what he had meant: as it turns out, Pedro drives a 25 year old Mini. It’s a lovely little car, but it does not like wet and cold weather. Mind you, tonight was the first night this month where the temperature had significantly dropped. And while the Mini had had apparently trouble to start up before, tonight it was, well, more troublesome.
So we were sitting in the car on the parking lot, and Pedro tried with patience and gentle handling to convince the Mini to start. And the little guy tried his best, but always ended up in sad coughing and farting. By adjusting the air intake of the carburetor, Pedro eventually managed to get the car going. There – not that big a deal! And off we went to the exit of the parking, passing the barrier, turning right to the street, stopping at the traffic light, continuing as it went gree—…
Uh oh – what a rather unfortunate timing! We were standing dead center in the middle of the road and seconds later cross traffic approached and wanted to kick the little piece of tinplate off the road. I jumped out of the car and pushed it out of harms way to the side of the road while Pedro desperately tried to restart the engine – without success.
I had a great workout right there! I kept pushing and for a moment I thought I could push him all the way to Alice’s place… but 20 meters later it was me who was coughing and wheezing. Let me tell you this: this car is heavier than you think! I pushed it into the driveway of our company where we decided to give the Mini a break to catch its breathe.
While waiting, we made plans: should we go left or right after this? Left meant potential cross traffic, but a rather smooth ride to Alice’s house. Right meant easier access to the road, but with a higher probability that we’d have to stop again, but then followed by a number of traffic lights where we definitely would have to stop and probably kill the engine again.
It took 20 minutes (and the removal of the hose that controls the airflow in the carburetor), but then the Mini jumped into action again. Pedro went to the left and admirably managed a few tricky situations without having to stop and thus kept us going. We were only a 150 m or so from Alice’s house, when the next traffic light came up. Pedro parked the car a little ahead of the next traffic light, because based on the sound and how the car handled, he knew it would not survive a continuous trip. We played through a few ideas what could be done, which basically meant that Pedro was theorizing on what the technical problem was and how to fix it while, I was grunting in my scarf in agreement, because I have not a fucking idea how to fix something like this.
I felt bad for Pedro and wanted to help as much as I could, but besides pushing the Mini to a safe parking spot, there was not much I could do.
Pedro: I am actually happy we drove together. If you had not been there, I would have been in deep trouble. Either at that first traffic light or on the entrance to the highway…
Pedro eventually decided he would try to drive back to the company, park the car there and then arrange for an alternative ride home for himself. My little finger tells me he will make a short notice decision once he sees how much traffic there is at the highway entrance (which is overlooked by a bridge he’ll cross) – if it looks like halfway smooth sailing, I am pretty sure he’ll take a shot and try and drive home.
Hope I’ll see him in the office safe and sound tomorrow.
And thanks for this little adventure and work out :)
Edit November 16:
Pedro was in the office today. And as I has suspected, he tried his luck on the highway and did drive home. From what he told me, he had some sweating-blood-and-water moments, but the Mini did take him home.