The things I write are only light extemporania

I spent my day just frittering - yes that's right, I say frittering - frittering away my noontime, suppertime, choretime too. Never mind getting dandelions pulled or the screen door patched or the beef steak pounded...

Oh dear, I think I'm going to be breaking out in musicals quite a few times in this post.

Anyway, I wasted most of the day sitting around and playing The Sims (although I did get some laundry done too), so around 6:30pm I thought about having my first meal of the day.

And of course, at 6:30, I was requested to be of service to the company and go pick this guy up at the train station in Blois and take him to a big event at Chambord.

Although I had been prepared from the beginning that I would have to drive at some point, I had always hoped that my first experience driving in a foreign country would be something along the lines of a trip to the grocery store with other people driving along and giving me directions. But I had confidence in confidence alone, besides which, you see, I have confidence in me. So, seeing as I was the only one with no Saturday night plans and there was absolutely no one else to do it, I accepted.

My directions were to pick him up at the Blois train station at 8pm, then take him to Chambord, getting there around 8:30. Then I would be home again by 9:30 and I might be able to make a local fête de la musique that some other people were going to. All this meant that I had to leave at 7:30. So at 7:30, when my directions were finally written out, I borrowed office keys to get into the office so that I could get car keys, then go back to my room and change my sandals for shoes and grab my wallet. When I got up there, our Properties Manager informed me that plans had changed and they were going to pick him up on their way.

So I returned the office keys, didn't bother with the shoes and went to the computer lab, only to be called as soon as I sat down and told that plans had changed again and I would need to pick him up. So by the time I got office keys again, got the car keys, returned the office keys, changed shoes and collected my wallet, it was about 7:55.

I sped to Blois. I had been there yesterday, so I had a general idea of the route to the town of Blois, if not to the train station. The directions, however, said that I needed to turn left at the first rondpoint. This didn't really make sense to me, so I went straight, in the direction that was labeled for Blois and called the person who had written my directions to make sure this was right and that she had just skipped a rondpoint in her directions. She said that no, I needed to turn left and go over the bridge. So I turned around, went back, and went out in the direction she'd indicated. After a while I called her again and said, "How far am I supposed to go before there's a bridge?"

I really should learn to go with my instincts instead of written directions.

So I got back going the direction I'd been going in, which was actually the correct one, and made it to the train station by ignoring the directions and following street signs instead.

I found the guy, who I will refer to as "Mr Mute Point" because he said that at least twice on our ride. He was trying to call the abbey when I found him and was almost at the point of returning to Paris. We got in the car and I consulted the Blois-Chambord directions I'd been given. We ended up nowhere near where they were supposed to take us, although we did get to drive past the cathedral...

So I had no idea where I was going again and called back to our directions-giver again. I told her I was on the bridge and she told me to turn left just after the bridge. UNFORTUNATELY, she thought I was going in the opposite direction over the bridge (which makes perfect sense because coming away from the train station, we should have been going in the other direction, but since I was trying to drive a stick and talk on a cell phone and compensate for driving in the wrong direction and deal with Mr Mute Point trying to give me directions to the wrong town, I guess I wasn't clear). So we drove and drove for a while and passed the château de Chaumont and drove and--

Chaumont? But wait, that's closer to home than Blois is...

I suddenly understood the whole left-after-the-bridge mishap and realized we'd been driving in the wrong direction for twenty minutes to half an hour.

I stuffed the directions in my purse, called my supervisor to let her know we were going to be even later than expected and started retracing my steps. We went back over the bridge and turned left and immediately started seeing signs for Chambord. After that, it was simplicity itself.

I finally got him to Chambord not at 8:30, as planned, but at a quarter to 10. The drive home was easy enough because I'd already driven it several times in various directions. Is there anything better than speeding through France with no idea of the local traffic rules or what the signs mean, and the guilt and anxiety building as you start to wonder how mad your supervisor is going to be at your foibles, how mad the Big Cheese is going to be when he hears about it and how mad your co-workers will be that you've had the car for three and a half hours?

Yes, yes there is. It's called speeding through France with no idea of the local traffic rules or what the signs mean, and the guilt and anxiety building as you start to wonder how mad your supervisor is going to be at your foibles, how mad the Big Cheese is going to be when he hears about it and how mad your co-workers will be that you've had the car for three and a half hours when the only radio station you can pick up is FunRadio. Techno, anyone?

So, with all these thoughts building up of how I'm not an asset to the abbey, I returned home just in time to have a cry, make myself an 11pm dinner and sit in the computer lab in the dark, eating terrible warmed tinned boeuf bourgignon, sniffling and emailing.

How was your weekend?

srah - Sunday, 20 June 2004 - 7:58 AM

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Comments (10)

gravatar Jez - June 20, 2004 - 12:48 PM -

Work work work work work footy work work work footy.

I should learn how to turn down work so I can have a free weekend sometime.

Congratulations for surviving your first French drive. Thank your lucky stars you didn't have to do it in Paris.

Still - you'll be in the passenger seat soon enough. How are you at map-reading?

gravatar srah - June 20, 2004 - 12:50 PM -

How does Hitler's noseless dog smell?!

gravatar Mr B------ - June 20, 2004 - 3:07 PM -

I second that!

gravatar srah - June 20, 2004 - 3:09 PM -

What are you seconding?

gravatar Mr B------ - June 20, 2004 - 3:42 PM -

Your response on how well you can read a map in the passenger's seat!

gravatar srah - June 20, 2004 - 5:14 PM -

Have we gone somewhere together with a map?

gravatar Cheryl - June 20, 2004 - 7:01 PM -

The direction-giver should be fired! I don't blame you :)

gravatar Mer - June 21, 2004 - 12:15 AM -

Are you in Tours? Close enough if you aren't. Sooooo jealous. Chambord! Chaumont! Blois!


(pants slightly)

gravatar srah - June 21, 2004 - 5:55 AM -

Closer to Blois than Tours, actually.

gravatar alfie - June 25, 2004 - 5:33 PM -

You managed to get 1776, The Sound of Music AND The Music Man in. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

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