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Thoughts on life by Tim West.

Happy Holidays

1000 miles in a ford focus.  129 mph legally.  1 accidental border crossing.  1 experience of acute German road rage.  Overall an epic happy holiday.

If you have ever drove on the 'wrong' side of the road, you will know that it takes a while to get the feel for it.  Couple this with sitting on the 'wrong' side of the car also and you really need to go easy for a while.  I was trying my best but I quickly made a mistake.

I was 35 miles into Germany, having picked up the rental car at Nuremberg airport.  There was a car parked halfway up the kerb on my side of the road and a big lorry coming the other way.  In the spirit of making progress, I thought I could fit through the gap.  I was wrong.  I clipped the parked cars mirror.  I was going very slowly and was 99% sure that there was no damage to either mirror but immediately my instincts said stop and check.  I didn't.

About 5 minutes later, a big black mercedes V8 bi-turbo SUV came baling past the car behind me on a narrow, twisty road at high speed and was flashing their lights and waving me over furiously.  I pulled over and received the full brunt of this German guys anger through my window.  To make things worse, as he ranted, shaking with anger while shouting these words at me, I didn't even slightly understand him.  So a bit like that thing people say; the best way to piss someone off is to let them shout at you and then say, 'I'm sorry, did you say something?', I had to say, sorry mate I have no idea what you just said, can you by chance scream at me again in English please?

Of course this just made things worse.  'You had an accident, turn around right now or I will phone the police!' he shouted.  I asked him was this in relation to clipping a cars mirror and all he would say was 'turn around now or I'm phoning the police.  That's it I'm phoning the police!'  And he had his phone to his ear.  This exchange, of me being so confused at how someone could be this upset over something so small, would the police just laugh at him, was he even talking to the police, who this guy even was and him being unwilling to say anything else but turn around now went on for about 5 minutes.  

Eventually, I turned around and went back to the parked car, who it turned out belonged to his brother in law and approached the driver.  'I hit your mirror about 10 minutes ago" I said.  'I'm sorry I didn't stop, is there any damage?'  The car owner couldn't have been more different to his brother in law.  'No none at all, I just flicked the mirror back and it's fine, no hard feelings'.  And he shook my hand.  Now I could proceed back on the road to our accommodation.

That night I couldn't sleep for hours.  I couldn't stop thinking about that exchange.  That guy was driving really dangerously to catch me up and had a young child in the back seat.  He was so over the top and it wasn't even his problem.  Why wouldn't he just be reasonable and say yes it's about the mirror, can you please just go and apologise.  Why did he have to be like that?  And then it hit me.  It was me who was 'being like that'.  I immediately knew the right thing to do but decided not to do it.  I didn't listen to my gut, took the easy way out and created this situation entirely myself.  I took a momentary holiday from integrity and was quickly reminded that there is good reason why I can't live that way.

Happy holiday season everyone.  Enjoy and savour these precious times with family and friends in new and exciting places.  I've added new travel work from this trip which you can find here.

Tim WestComment