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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Did my Breakdown Save Her Life?

When things have gone wrong on this ride, I have always tried to see a positive. Missing a flight and arriving later than I intended, can lead to a meeting of some wonderful people that I may have never met.
A typical example was two weeks ago when I overslept at my friend house and missed my flight to Rome. My friend had promised to wake me as I had no alarm, but failed to do so. I was hanging around there trying to reassure him it wasn't his fault and that it was my responsibility.
I tried to tell him that I always tell myself, that things happen for a reason, when water started to pour through his kitachen ceiling from a cystern overflow in the bathroom above.
My more than competent DIY skills rescued the situation and ensured that it wouldn't happen again.
So when I was steaming along, 100kms from Passau, at a heady fourty kilometres an hour towards a rendezvous with my transport back to England in only two hours time, you would forgive me for a little rage when the engine decided 'no more'.
I was on the Munich to Passau road instead of the Innsbruck Salzburg route after getting lost the previous rvening in the rain and the dark. In fact had I not missed my flight two weeks ago I would have been on the Slovenia route to Vienna and nowhere near this quiet area of South Germany.
I managed to get some life from the engine, but only for a short distance that brought me in to a small village called Tonig am Inn, where I was assisted in contacting my friend as my phone was kaputt.
I chanced upon this shop instead of the office next door only to find it was a mobile phone seller and they allowed me to use my sim in their phone in order to access my phone book.
Meanwhile across the road, unknown to me, was Frau Kircher a fifty year old strongly built German woman, who lived above a row of empty shop/business premises.
She had decided that morning, that as she was out of work, she would busy herself and clean the lights under the canopy of the shop fronts. She may even have been preparing for the task as the owner of the phone shop ran me to the bank  only one kilometer away in spite of my insistance that I could walk the distance.
I assured the shop owner that I was fine walking back and even had a coffee at the cafe next door to the bank.
Frau Kircher meanwhile was bringing her aluminium ladder down the stairs from her apartment to begin her task of cleaning.
I spotted a second hand shop while walking back and managed to pick up three books of short stories to read, in order to haul back my once reasonably expansive German vocabulary, a language I was quite fluent in thirty years ago.  I chose a book to read while walking and was totally immersed in it, walking into the odd lamp post or person. I was taking the occasional glance up to check my position in relation to the shop where my bike was parked, when I notice Frau Kircher standing high up the six foot ladder.
The ladder was tilted due to the camber of the paving and it looked precarious to say the least, as the six foot ladder was too short for the reach needed to clean the lights safely. There was little to hold onto as she stretched to clean the lights and a cold shudder ran through as I recalled the moment twenty years ago when I fell off a ladder and fractured my vertebrae.

I immediate approached her and told her I didn't think the ladder was safe. She agreed and when I offered to stand on the back side of the steps and anchor the ladder, she was quick to accept.
The top of the laddr had a hand rail bridging the two uprights. This was below her knees when cleaning and she wasn't using it to hold onto except when she bent down to grasp while she came down the steps.
The first occasion that she was coming down after me footing the ladder, I was suddenly struck in the face by the plastic which broke as she put her weight on it for support.
My first reaction was to lower my head. Fr Kircher was now lurching forwards head first, but somehow managed to, or was lucky enough to stop her foward notion by her hand landing on top of my head, iupon which she grabbed my hair tight till she regained ber balance.
It was an amazing stroke of luck that she didn't go totally over the top of me, but luck would not have come into it had I not been there for her to grab and continue head first to the pavement or maybe it was total luck the chain of events that led to the two of us being in that same place at the same time.

Maybe it was because we were who we were.
She a strong independant person who really should not have been alone with inadequate equipment doing a task that was probably unpaid.
Me, being totally shambolic in preparations and not arriving on schedule but always seeming to pop up at the correct moment at the necessary happening.

Yes and who knows how it would have all panned out if my bike hadn't broken down and who knows the multitude of scenarios possible in the grand scheme of quantum mechanics.
But at least I got a bag of goodies from the good Frau Kircher, which went down a treat while sitting waiting for my good friend to arrive fro Vienna to take me home.

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