Clutching at straws

We’re getting the hang of this ‘koppling’ business now. When I say we, I mean the Resident IT Consultant. Although, where would he – and indeed I – be were it not for me translating what the hire car told him to do?

Still outside the Grand Hotel, most likely.

With any new car there is always something you’ve not encountered before. (I mean, I believe this is so, not having a clue how to drive a car.) But you can work it out, or there might be a manual.

For car hire cases it would be useful if anything offered by the hire company came in English as well as the local language. It’s easy to be ignorant across language barriers.

So there we were, installed in our car for the next three weeks. Suitcases in the back. ‘Key’ thing in the correct slot for ‘key’ things. ‘Trampa ner kopplingen’ said the screen in front of the Resident IT Consultant, in reply to the ‘key’ being inserted. ‘That means the clutch,’ I explained.

He ‘trampade’ the clutch for all he was worth. Nothing happened. After a long period of nothing we tried to work out how you could possibly find out what to do, apart from translating the Swedish instructions. It was out of hours. He could hardly go back into the hotel and ask if they knew how to drive.

In the end I cast my mind over who else might know how to start a car. Any car. Professional drivers. Hmm. Where though? Aha! Behind us. Across the road, a clutch (pardon) of taxi drivers, waiting outside the station. Feeling it’d look stupid if I went and asked on his behalf, I shoved him out of the car to go and ask, even if English might not be their forte.

Before long we were joined by friendly Middle Eastern taxi driver, who not only trampade ner kopplingen, but showed us what should happen next. Dead easy. But not obvious.

(D’you hear that, Volkswagen?)

When we arrived at our destination and needed to reverse into the drive, we discovered that the reversing thingy which lets you see what you are reversing into, spoke English.

They clearly can’t make their minds up. But someone will find one or other of the two languages difficult to understand.


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