Very long ago there were also wet, windy days in the run-up to the holidays. In time I had a French employer (the stainless steel branch Pechiney Ugine Kuhlmann). And if you work for the French? Then you must speak French well.
The office of my then employer was in Amsterdam. And in Amsterdam there was also Het Maison Descartes, the French Cultural mission post in 020. They also gave intensive language courses there. They were indeed very intensive.
Every time I drove back to my apartment near Utrecht, I even thought in French. My French wasn't that good. But in the evening on the way back home, thoughts don't mean much either. I thought about the nice receptionist at the Maison Descartes.
It had been the last lesson for the holidays. It rained hard, it stormed. But I was proud of my first 'company car', an Ascona 1600S. And that is the only car of all the cars I have ever had that I still know the license plate of: HP-42-RT.
At around half past ten on the A2 I drove something of 120. I was tightly overtaken by someone who had considerably more confidence in his driving skills during bad weather. Further ahead, I saw brake lights shortly afterwards, a swinging headlamp beam and - I had come pretty close in the meantime - a car that dived backwards into a ditch and tilted on its back.
Then you stop thinking in whatever language. I put my Opel on the roadside, ran to where the VW Beetle lay on its back in the shallow water. Beetles and turtles are lifelessly lost when they lie on their backs.
I stepped into the single-deep water. I managed to open the door. In the light of the cars passing by, I vaguely saw that someone was on their hands and knees on the roof. A lady. A lady who was quite upset.
It was a hassle and - literally - muddy to get her out of the car. When I had her on the side, I had lost one of my Swedish mules. A police car stopped and things started to get more structure. The lady was taken on by someone else. I was heard in the police car. Please. Ambulance. Everyone who was approachable wished each other happy holidays. Beautiful.
Just in the new year I received a letter. From the lady I got out of the car. About saving lives, and wanting to meet to thank and reward. I hadn't paid much attention to my catch during the job. But as a young romantic I saw a nice line in it: "Saved princess, reward, top!"
At the specified address I met a handsome widow who then still fell outside my margins and a handsome pregnant single daughter. There were all sorts of emotions. But at least I adjusted some of my expectations. The age difference with the mother was a bit too big for me. And for instant paternity, I felt too young.
The reward was a flower arrangement of perennials in a horrible, orange, plastic container. A while later I made a date with the nice receptionist of the Maison Descartes. This summer we were married for thirty years. Glad I chose the good Princess ...
We don't know how things are going in life. But let's make the best of it. But what happened to the HP-42-RT? Oh well: other cars came from the business, other cars, classics ...
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