Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1)

 



I always loved this title of Susan Jeffers' little book. And had to recall that encouragement when in Bavaria I suddenly had to drive again. That beautiful car above - a Corvette, which belongs to my son. 

You might remember that I sold my last car, the cute little red Fiat 500, Knut, because in Berlin I decided in a very environmental mood that I don't need a car: so many subways, busses, trams and S-Bahnen! 

Had I but known...   Covid was putting a stop to all public transport - almost nobody dared to use it. Thus the radius of my movements for a long, long time became awfully narrow - you know I walk easily 10 km, but you have to divide that by 2 - otherwise you can sleep in the subway :-) After getting the vaccine I became mobile again by public transport. When I had to drive the car above, I hadn't driven a car since five or four years. 

I had no choice: to help my son (he waited at an auto repair shop in a city where he had brought the second car, my DiL's Porsche SUV) I had to drive it - this beautiful car! 

I felt timid. Would I be good enough? And could I drive with an automatic? I had always looked down on that, I love stick shift, still think it more sporting. Never had owned an automatic - though I had at least 7 or 8 cars in my life, almost all big and quite quick - my "best" were two Lancia Beta 2000 - and big Volvos, big Audis, etc. I have driven a lot in my professional life. (Later, in the sensible little Fiat 500, I didn't feel safe). 

Well: I arrived well and excited. LOVED IT.    (And had the courage to drive the big Porsche SUV too - here the landscape is hilly - which is a real excuse for the petrol it needs). 

For the Corvette I can't find but one: it is so utterly beautiful! 


And I loved the (only possible) reaction of my gay young friend Michou: he texted me: "What did you wear?"     :-)   









  



21 comments:

  1. I’ve never had an automatic either Britta. The Corvette is indeed a beautiful car …… I can just see you bombing around in it ….. I too wish to know what you were wearing 🤣😂🤣 XXXX

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    1. Dear Jackie, haha, I thought that you would like Michou's question! :-)
      To be honest: I wore normal clothes - had no time to change into full monty (is it possible to say that - or does it mean the opposite, come to think of it, if I think about that gorgeous movie "The Full Monty")
      But you know me a bit: I always try to bring satorial enlightenment to where I am - as you do yourself, which I always notice when looking at your beautiful photos. XXXX

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  2. I too prefer public transport anywhere into the City and back. But no wonder you were anxious; 4 to 5 years without driving would make anyone anxious! Well done :)

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    1. Yes, dear Helen, I agree in both points:
      when going long ways (as from Berlin to Bavaria) the very fast train is my choice (the "sprinter ICE" does 300 km/h at his best - I took a photo of the board to document that) - and it is no fun to look for a parking place in a big city - our caretaker said jokingly to me in Berlin: You do not move your Fiat because you have found this excellent parking place in front of the house" - and I felt deep inside: it wasn't just a joke...
      And as to not driving for such a long time: one gets more timid the longer one waits. Of course I went to the eye doctor in Berlin (120% sight - they fetched another doctor to astonish him too) - and I did the theoretical program for drivers on my computer, in case that some traffic rules have changed. So I was prepared - but honestly afraid. It is very good for me to have an external very good reason to do it anyway - then I jump!

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  3. I have operated all manner of vehicles. Stick shifts were often the only ones available. In the city a stick shift is really inconvenient with all the stopping and starting. Now that I am older I prefer automatic anyway.

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    1. Dear Emma, I was surprised about the ease of driving automatic - had my sister's advice in my ear: "Think of your left leg as being strapped to the seat!" Thus I could concentrate on the traffic - the nav helped too. So maybe I come to appreciate it later - at the moment I stubbornly prefer stick shift, but have no choice. :-)

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  4. I still have my copy of Susan Jeffers book and dip into it from time to time.

    I once had a temporary job to drive the managing director of a large company to meetings around the country. On the first day he threw me the car keys and told me to fetch the car from the underground car park. I went down, found the car and found it was an automatic. I went back to his office and explained I had never driven one and didn't know what to do; he came down with me, gave me a quick lesson and said "drive". I drove him many 100s of miles. The Porsche SUV is big and beautiful. I would have been nervous to have been asked to drive it.

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    1. Dear Rachel, I am glad that you know that book too - just the title sometimes gives me the crucial kick.
      That must have been an even greater challenge to drive "under the eyes" of your boss - though as you were used to driving you will have been very quick to do it.
      As to the Porsche: yes, it is huge - and yes: I was nervous.
      Normally I refuse to drive other cars than those I do own myself (if I would drive a dent into it - which till now never happened - it would be only me to explain that to), but I had no choice.
      And the wonderful thing of the Porsche is: you sit higher, so if you have to drive a lane with high grass at the sides you see much better - and lorries that come in my direction do go to their curb and respect the car (different from a Fiat 500).

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  5. Someone once told me driving a car is like riding a bicycle, you do not forget. The Corvette is a lovely, fast, sporty car. With the windows down, breeze flowing, and wearing the Audrey Hepburn kerchief twisted around the neck and tied behind. This holds the hair in place while simultaneously looking very chic. Do not forget the dark sunglasses! Fast cars have been a constant in my life too.

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    1. Dear Susan, they told me too that one does not forget - but you might remember that not so long ago in the Netherlands I had to climb on a bicycle after at least 15 years of not riding, mumble, mumble... Of course I could do it, but it felt a bit wobbly - I have to report: driving a car was easier :-)
      The feeling in a Corvette: you exactly described it: I don't need books with titles as "How to Take Off Twenty Years in Four Weeks" - just give me a Corvette! (And short-sighted people who try - try, hahahah - to overtake THAT car.... :-)
      Fast cars are so fascinating (that fascination lessened a bit when I became a mother: I suddenly turned to the big Volvo, feeling safer - but then later that changed back to fast).

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  6. What a lovely car! My boss always sent me to the airport for guests arriving. I took his automatic BMW. When he needed his motorcycle brought to the plant, he sent me. BMW, of course.

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    1. Thank you, Joanne! It is one of the whimseys of my son - his first car (bought with his own earned money!) was a black Pontiac Firebird (yes, he loved Knight Rider!) with a targa top - though it surprisingly could not speak - at least not with me. When I sat beside him I wore a scarf and dark glasses as Susan described about Audrey Hepburn - it felt so lovely!
      Do I get it right: you have driven motorcycles yourself?? They are the suppressed desire and dream of my life - EVERBODY warned me about the dangers, so I didn't dare to do that, but still look admiringly at the Harleys...(noticing that now almost every driver wears a white beard and white locks ringle from under his helmet :-)

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  7. Oooh, haven't you been having fun! Now that you've got back on that horse, you'll be finding many excuses to be family chauffeur. So helpful!!

    We, too, went car-free for eco-reasons about five years ago when we sold our house by the sea - also a Fiat 500! (cream with red leather seats :)). Mr. P doesn't miss it, and, well, I don't drive in any event, I haven't given it another thought.

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    1. Yes, that driving was fun, Pipistrello - as it so often happens when one jumps over one's shadow: the feeling so intense (of course: concentration pumped adrenalin into one's veins :-) (I just think that "to bite the bullet" might be the right expression - jumping over my shadow is a Germanism, I fear)

      Family chauffeur: I doubt that. I would not - without a reason - drive the triplets around - that is too risky, I think - I just read a good book about the (somehow overlooked) psychologist Alfred Adler, and he said one should decide "whose task is it?" - very helpful in many situations in life - and I think it is the task of the parents.
      Though luckily I do not have to discuss that point: the Corvette has only two seats!! :-)
      It would work with the Porsche, but then again: too responsible for me.

      Yes, in Berlin (except in Covid-time, that was really tough) I do not miss a car. No looking for parking places, no need to become anxious about harakiri cyclists, or angry at other aggressive drivers.
      And public transport is wonderful, very entertaining - especially in Berlin: you see all sorts of people, the Flying Dutchman noticed surprised that one accessory of the typical outfit of young men in the morning (!) is a bottle of beer in the right hand... :-)

      So you had the very opposite model of the Fiat 500: mine was a very nice red with cream-white leather seats, also a white steering wheel). Funny!

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    2. Now that's a coincidence. Of course, that's the definition of life in the Antipodes - everything's in opposition :)

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    1. Yep, Tasker - though I do not get up at three in the morning (as son and DiL did before the triplets arrived) to watch a race.
      I am more in admiring beautiful cars - my dream car is a Jaguar E-type (and in real life I was allowed to drive a Jag as Inspector Morse drove - but only for a day...)
      - but I would not refuse a Lamborghini Isler GTS either :-)

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  9. Dear Britta, As a commenter I have been remiss. Forgive me --things came up. However, I have kept apace of your delightful posts. I have 2 cars. One is an excellent and long-lived 1971 VW Transporter. The other is a Mazda from this century --I found, in my 70s, I could not tolerate a car without air-conditioning in California. But the main thing I had to get used to was the change in automotive front ends. Older cars had round sealed-beam headlights and toothy grills --cheerful, wondering fronts. New cars had squinting headlights and frowning grills. They looked upset. However, Chevy Corvette is one car that kept its lure of fun and dignity. I first drove one in 1967 and returned it to my friend --a Chevrolet dealer-- and said, "This one is going to be a classic."

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    1. Dear Geo., thank you, and you know I am your friend of soul and know that you read those posts - whether you write a comment or not.
      Life is complicated and sometimes we just cannot do all we want.

      Two cars: wow, that is the true American way of life!
      The old VW transporters are very sought after here in Germany, and well restorated they have their price!
      With Air condition I have a real struggle - in cars I try to protect my forehead and sinuses, wearing a hat. When it is hot, I am glad too that it exists.

      Interesting that you mention the headlights and grills - the Flying Dutchman complains just about that too - he says that the new design is especially made for the Chinese market.
      Be that as it may - the Corvette is ravishing and I love to drive it!

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