Ladies & gentlemen, here is another part of my misadventures behind the wheel, for your viewing pleasure. You’d have thought that I was done with my ‘car’-naame, but no sirree! There’s no way I can be done when I have around 3/4ths of my life left. (As you can see, inspite of all my teething problems, I plan to live a LONG time!)
So, I am in Belgium now (… in a manner of speaking, I guess. I am NOT in Belgium right NOW, but most of my stuff is in Belgium… no that’s not true either.
Yes, my CAR is in Belgium, and since my heart is where my home is where my car is, I am in Belgium. (If this convoluted statement didn;t conclusively prove that I am a consultant, I don’t know what would have.)
And we’re back to the story after a long and pointless detour with a word from our sponsors: Free Broadband Access at Dubai Hotel.
I was back at the company’s office in Brussels and sitting down demurely for my training. Looking down at the schedule, I saw a time slot with the fleet and facility manager, Pip. I knew his speech by heart now. Here it is in bullet points (neat and concise)
• Accident rate per consultant per car per year in office: 2.2 (One asks what a .2 accident looks like)
• No matter where you run, where you hide, you cannot escape the long hands of Pip!
• He shall hunt you down like a dog. This merits another bullet point in itself.
• Keep car clean, or else.
• Repeat Bullet point number 3.
So, the first time I had heard this speech I had been quaking. This time I looked around at the others to see their reactions. Some of them had looks on their faces that said “I am NOT taking the car out!”
It was cool though. I was a relatively safe and cautious driver, if that may be applied to speed demons and I HAD notched up quite a few miles under my clutch-brake-accelerator.
That Wednesday, we went to Louvain-la-Neuve for some extra training since we needed every bit we got. On the way back, the other girl, Neeta, amongst the five new IIM-Brussels new hires asked me to sit with her while she learnt the ropes driving.
I settled into the front seat and promised myself I wouldn’t yell like last time. After 30 minutes of driving, we were about to reach the office when Neeta took it on the curb and overcorrected, landing plonk in front of the car on the side.
In the long silence, I looked at her, and looked out the the Audi to see a French man gesticulating. Neeta parked it on the side and I went out to meet the victim. By the time, the guys had joined us from the other car (which was MY car being driven by the owner of the car Neeta was driving. His name can be Rohit. Yes, I know… It is complicated). Rohit was almost near tears. Two days and one long scratch and one dented bumper on his car.
Everyone pushed me to talk to the gentleman. Lucky me. Apparently I was the only one who had cared enough to understand French in the first place.
Both of us nodded amicably.
Neeta burst out, “It’s his fault”
The man retorted, “You want to go to the police?”
Maybe it was not THAT amicable. He was looking daggers at us.
So I called Pip to enquire what was to be done. “Fill in the mutuelle accidente”
After 10 minutes of discussion about whose fault it was, we decided to fill in the accident report for the insurance.
Guess who was elected to fill it in since she knew French? You guessed it.
In the middle of filling the form, Neeta’s boyfriend, my ex-cointern turns to me and says, “By the way, we didn’t take our licences. Can you put in yours instead?”
Like the idiot “Can’t-say-no” people pleaser I am, I wrote my contact and told the others that if this was the reason I didn’t get my licence, I would personally kill all of them.
The story is NOT over. The next day, Rohit and the other guys wanted to take my car because it was an automatic while the girls followed in Neeta’s car. Quaking in my stilettos, I gave them the key and begged them on bended knees to be careful. I am very scared of Pip, you see.
We got safe and sound to the office and sat down for another session of training. When at 9:30, my Blackberry beeped.
Email from Pip Everheard
I opened it gingerly.
Message subject: Your car’s headlights are on.
God just isn’t fair to me.