Monday, August 20, 2007

Another Trip to Ikea

Among the 700 kilos of boxes that we bought on Saturday, one of the many boxes was incorrectly entered on the bill of materials sheet. So Stacy volunteered me to go back to the store again, while she visited the new potential babysitter outside of Gümlingen.

The last two trips to Ikea were with a co-pilot -- this trip was me alone and my excellent navigational skills. I made it to Ikea uneventfully. The incorrect part was exchanged for the correct part. We were given an Ikea card with 84 CHF on it, the amount of the items I brought in for exchange. I found the safety jacket, as required by the Bern Glider flying club, and exited the facility en-route to find the Media-Markt, right next door.

See I had this vision, that I would leave the parking lot for Ikea, and drive to the parking lot for Media Markt, and shop for a new Television set for Jake's room. The short trip ended up taking me out of the shopping mall area, onto the motorway, almost all the way to Zürich, through Lyssach (the town right next to the Ikea), and back to the same parking lot I started from. The Media Markt is right next door to the Ikea, so my humiliation is doubled.

You would not understand. The roads here are weird and crazy, I tell you. There are many rules of the road that I should know, but don't know. These are embarrassing things to admit, so I won't go into detail about the depths of my road-rule ignorance. Before you judge me as the ignorant American, remember, I was not ready to be a driver in this country, I was involuntarily pressed into this service by my wife! That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

On my way back, I got onto the motorway and started to daydream, following some other big truck that happened to be driving the speed limit. I have been warned endlessly that speeding is a serious offense here; one does not get away with even 1 kph over the limit! I think these are exaggerations to scare off the silly American, but I'll comply for now. I never have been much of a speeder in the first place. Besides, all these weird kph numbers really mean nothing to me, and I'm terrified of driving the Mercedes-Monster; so I might as well drive the speed limit. What terrifies me even more is that the police officer pulling me over will probably speak Swiss German to me, and I'll feel like the stupid American again.

I don't really mind getting lost in Switzerland. It gives me an opportunity to see things that I would not normally otherwise see. The only time I really get upset that I'm lost is when somebody is behind me. If I'm lost and nobody is around, I can take my time. Sit at an intersection and ponder my next direction. If there is somebody behind me, he is judging me, and my poor choices, and poor speed selection, and noticing that I clearly didn't understand that weird sign.

Such pressure of being tailgated by the impatient local is what leads me to get more lost. Get off my tail, and I'll figure it out. This is my new excuse as to why I ended up in the busiest part of downtown Bern, after trying desperately not to get into the most difficult areas to drive in. Back to my daydreaming behind the large truck -- I didn't notice some turn-off to Bern Bümpliz, and I ended up on the motorway to Thun. Instead of getting off and turning around, I stopped in Gümlingen, where my wife might still had been.

I actually found my way to the International School of Berne, and found a nice place to park the car, so I could call the wife. I would triumphantly announce my arrival in Gümlingen to pick them all up, so we could happily head home together.

No such luck. My wife and kids all got home without my help, and with the use of the local transportation system about 20 minutes before my call. This leads me to my adventure of getting home. In a typical macho fashion, I bypassed all attempts at getting directions home. And instead of the sure thing of getting back on the motorway, I decided to take the local routes home.

I had several situations where I couldn't go where I wanted, streets that dead ended, or turned into Buses and Bikes here only, please; and other streets that ended in a cul-de-sac that was not getting me any closer to home. I eventually made my way to Ostermundigen, and .. behold! The number 10 bus! I can just follow this guy all the way home!

Little did i realize that the number 10 bus takes me right into the heart of downtown Bern, full with pedestrian sidewalks, where the pedestrians walk freely in front of my car, and the max safe speed is probably 10 kph. No matter, I'm not lost, I can get home from here.

I did discover something, while getting lost in Gümlingen -- that "Lim" on the dashboard wasn't a matter of the car complaining about overloading. It wasn't a matter of the car being upset about being in the wrong gear. No, it is something much more mundane, and the readers will surely thing I am the dumbest person in this country, after I admit what was wrong.

The turn signal on this Mercedes is that stick that comes out from the steering column. Right next to it was another stick that I paid no attention to. It too says "Lim" and a little diagram that looks like a dial of some sort. Apparently, on the exit from the Ikea on Saturday, I used the right turn signal, and had inadvertently hit the second stick. This sets the car into "Speed Limiting Mode"

To keep your lead foot from getting you into trouble with the Swiss authorities, this vehicle is equipped with a governor. You set the "Lim" switch to whatever speed you want, and the car will not be made to go faster than this speed. It starts out at 30 kph, and each time you hit "up" on the stick, it increases by 10kph. That day leaving the Ikea was when I had the governor set to 30 kph, and no matter what gear I was in, I wasn't going to go any faster.

Well I guess the first step toward enlightenment is admitting that you do not know.

1 comment:

Miz K said...

Lol - the lim story cracked me up! We're still waiting on our visa thingies, as I'm sure Chris has told you, but your blog is alternately making me less concerned and more concerned so keep it up/stop it already! Kidding! Definitely keep it up - thanks so much!

Kristen C