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August 07, 2006

Cars ...

There are days when you simply cannot win. Mausi had one of those last week.She had to go on a business trip to a town about 230 km from where she works. Her employer keeps a pool of cars of different brands and sizes for such purposes.

So Mausi went to the garage where the cars are kept at 6.30 in the morning and was entrusted with an Audi A6. Great, Mausi thought. That's one of the nice things about this car pool - you get to drive cars you couldn't afford to buy yourself. The only drawback about these cars is - Mausi is convinced they can't wait to play a practical joke on her and whenever she passes through the garage imagines faint sniggering noises of the cars telling each other would a good time they had had with her. But Mausi is not easily defeated and always optimistic that everything will go alright this time.

She got into the car and tried to locate the navigator imp. She had already used it in BMWs, VWs and FORDs but there was nothing to be seen in the Audi. As Mausi had not been to her destination before she'd be lost without an imp. There was nothing for it but to go back and ask if the Audi had an imp after all. Yes of course, was the reply, look again. Well, the light is not the best inside the garage so Mausi dragged the car outside into the pale morning sunshine. A few minutes later she actually managed to locate the controls, cleverly hidden between the front seats, and even the display: the size of a big stamp between the dashboard displays right behind the wheel.

Mausi squandered the next 10 minutes trying to tell the imp where she wanted to go. The imp proved to be of the extremely uncooperative kind and refused to accept the street name. Right - as Mausi was by now beginning to run out of time she swallowed her pride and went back again to ask for a five minutes crash course into handling the imp. Sure, no problem, they said, keeping a straight face and send one of the drivers outside. He quickly explained that bit of the system to Mausi which she had already found out herself and then failed to get the street name into the imp as well. Must be a new street, was his explanation, our navigation CDs are not quite up to date. Oh great, that's all Mausi needed on this morning. But the imp graciously offered to take Mausi to the correct autobahn exit. Splendid, Mausi would have found that one without any help from the imp.

Mausi thanked the driver, rushed back to her office, got her computer to do a route listing, ripped the paper out of the printer and dashed out to the car again. By now she was half an hour behind her shedule but as she always plans ahead for surprises she might still just make it. A glance at the controls told her that the tank was only half full, what the heck, it should still get her to her destination.

Apart from the fog and a large number of road works the drive was uneventful and Mausi made it to her destination in time. Conducting her business took her about an hour and then she went back to the car and tried to tell the imp to take her back home. Which he refused to do! He didn't even know the street where he lived. He knew surprisingly few streets in his home town, come to think of it. Mausi didn't really need the imp to take her home, just liked someone to talk to her now and then. Right, so she set the imp to the nearest street to her destination he knew and started her journey back.

Mausi had already noticed that the needle on the petrol control display pointed to reserve and was looking out for the next petrol station anyway. In no way was she prepared for the shrill beep that suddenly filled the car and the yellow petrol pump symbol popping up on the dasboard controls. The symbol alone would have been warning enough without almost giving her a heart attack! At the next station she pulled out and was confronted with the next problem: how do you open the lid on the tank in this car? Mausi is used to her Renault where she just pulls it open which didn't work here. In other cars you often have to pull a small lever inside the car which makes the lid pop open. The only thing Mausi could find to pull opened the hood. Aaargh!

Good thing Mausi had a mobile with her and could phone the people at the garage at home. The answer to her enquiries was discouraging: Haven't the faintest idea, better ask someone at the petrol station, they should know. By now, Mausi was past caring anyway, went into the little station shop straight to the man at the cash register and asked about the mysteries of an Audi. By the look he gave her he obviously suspected Mausi to be a member of a gang, trying to divert his attention so that the rest could rob the petrol station. In the end he agreed to come out and give Mausi a hand as soon as his colleague returned from the store rooms. And indeed he kept his word. After some more looking for hidden levers and devices it eventually turned out that the lid had to be pushed instead of pulled to come open....

Back on the road Mausi enjoyed the brief moments when she was not hampered by Dutch tourists determinedly blocking the middle lane or road works and could go at 180 km/h. The funny thing was that the dawdlers suddenly transmogrified into Flying Dutchmen in the road works sections where speed is restricted to 80 km/h and overtook Mausi effortlessly. Mausi hoped that quite a few would get caught by speed cameras!

Eventually Mausi made it back to base and complained about the imp's performance. Not what one would expect in a high quality car like an Audi A6, is it? The explanation was that owing to the car's age the navigation maps are on two CDs instead of one. If you've loaded the wrong CD (it doesn't show on the display which CD you have loaded and the CD player is hidden somewhere in the boot) the imp only knows the major roads. Obviously the CD for East Germany had been loaded, not the one for West Germany Mausi would have needed. Well, if they had just given Mausi a hint before she went it would have saved Mausi a lot of energy but probably deprived the boys at the garage of a lot of entertainment.

When Mausi finally left the garage she could hear the cars sniggering again....

Posted by Mausi at August 7, 2006 03:51 PM

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