Monday: «Take the long way home.»
It turned out that it wasn´t me who would collapse after a 3-day training camp... it was my Honda Civic!
The little yellow light came on when I was driving home from Casa Grande on Sunday. There is an oil leak somewhere, and it is not recommended that I drive it for a long distance. Hmmm... I´m in Denmark!
I called the NAF people (Norway´s AAA) to find out my options. I don´t have a local number, so I have to call the number in Norway. They service all of Europe. Good news for me. I try to explain to her that I´m taking the ferry back to Norway on Monday. She will relay this info to her people in Denmark.
Good, I think... so I wait for a phone call.
3 hours later a guy from NAF is outside my room ready to pick up my car!
He wonders why I have not been answering my calls. He had been calling my home phone number in Oslo. How intelligent is that?
He looks at my car and agrees with me that it should not be driven very far. I ask if he can come back tomorrow, but he says I have to call NAF to place an order. But... you are here now! You see me stranded here... just come back tomorrow.
So I call back NAF to explain my situation again. She says that I need to call back in the morning to order a car.
But... I know that I need a tow tomorrow! And I know that it is an hour to drive, and that the ferry leaves at 12:45!
Well, we can´t take a reservation... you need to call back in the morning. I recommend you call early.
I call NAF at 6:45 and explain the whole story again, this time to a guy who is not that pleasant.
«I see that you have already used your 2 free pickups this year»
«No, I have only used 1 this year back in January»
«I dont have the dates here... I just see that you have used our services twice»
«If you count yesterdays little mishap then it does not count since I did not order it»
I finally convince him, and he says he will send the info back to Denmark so they can send a car. I have no idea when he will get there, so I skip the swim practice in order to empty my room and pack up my car.
At 8:00 there is still no car, so I join the others for breakfast.
At 9:00 there is still no car, so I call back to make sure the order went through. I get the classic «I´m sure he will be there soon».
«Well, can´t you check? Is there a way you can find out where he is?»
«No, but I see that you called us a little before 7 this morning so I´m sure he will be there soon»
I need to leave no later than 10:30 in order to make the ferry, so at this point the other people in my group are starting to figure out other solutions. We put my bike and my bag in one of the other cars. Also, Kristoffer´s stuff (the guy who rode with me) was put in yet another car. Trond suggested that he could tow me to the ferry since we were taking the same ferry back, which was incredibly nice of him. I even had an elastic rope in my car!
We roll out my car and start hooking up the rope. It is now 10:00.
At 10:05 the NAF car arrives!
I am very relieved! Now my car can sit on a bed instead of being towed at a much slower speed.
So... car is on the bed, and we are finally off! I´m in the NAF car while Trond is driving Andreas and Kristoffer.
We get to the ferry at 11:00. Plenty of time to load the cars. The ferry people are obviously used to this scenario and just tow me onto the ferry. There´s even another guy in the same predicament with a broken car. I´m just relieved that I made the ferry. The next one doesn´t leave until 8 pm, and I´m not even sure that the tickets can be transferred.
While on the ferry the four of us (Trond, Andreas, Kristoffer and I) were able to talk some more triathlon stuff before getting back to the real world. Trond is explaining the "handicap" test that you can take in the pool. Something I haven´t talked about in years.
Back to the Honda situation:
Half-way over to Norway I start calling NAF again, explaining that I need someone to pull me out of the ferry and to a local mechanics place.
«When do you arrive in Larvik?»
«In about an hour»
«Well you have to call back when you dock. We cant risk you being late»
«But the ferry arrives at 4:30! The weather is perfect and there is no reason for delay»
«You have to call back when you arrive»
4:15 pm. I call back, getting yet another new teller on the phone, explaining the situation again. She says that I have used up my 2 freebies and that I will have to pay a small fee. This time she is sort of right, except that it is still the same day and I was hoping that all of this would count as one service.
It was worth a try.
Thank you though!
I send Kristoffer, and the stuff that he had in my car, into the other car so that he could at least get back to Oslo.
As the gate opens, and the cars drive out, I am left behind in a now very large and empty car ferry. A sort of surreal feeling.
A few minutes later a big NAF car drives in, towards my car... passes my car and goes straight to the other car to pick him up. I guess he picked the longest straw.
I wait some more.
Finally a car comes to pull me out. This was not a NAF guy, just a guy from the ferry crew.
He pulls me out to the parking lot where I wait some more.
Finally I see the NAF guy again. He drives towards me... and then passes me. Again!?
Does this town only have one NAF guy?
5 minutes later he calls me up and explains that he has to drive that car to Sandefjord and was wondering where I was headed.
«I was hoping you could drive me to the train station after getting my car to a mechanic»
«I can drive you to the train station right now, then come back for your car after this delivery»
«Ok, thank you»
Turns out there were 3 cars on the ferry that needed towing! Is this normal? No, it is quite rare that we even have 1 car. Great, just my luck.
He also thought it was strange that the NAF people kept making me wait in order to put in the order. If he had gotten it earlier, he might have picked me up first.
Oh well... either way, I make it to the station at 6 pm. The train to Oslo leaves at 6:20. Very nice. But I did not exactly enjoy having to leave my car on the dock, and hand my keys over to this guy who promises to drive it to the mechanic. But I really did not have a choice, unless I wanted to wait another couple of hours.
Luckily I had brought with me a couple of sandwiches from breakfast. It´s a 2 hour train ride to Oslo. Then I have a 30 minute ride with the subway before I can finally get home!
There were quite a lot of people who were helping me out through all of this. Several of the guys were helping me with the car Sunday evening, trying to figure out the problem with my car. On Monday, Marit put my bike and bag in her car, and Espen offered to have it at his place since he lives closest to me. Lars Arvid took Kristoffers bike in his car. Trond offered to tow me to the ferry, plus he took Kristoffer in his car back to Oslo. I felt really bad that I had to involve all of these people, my friends. I´ve been so used to trying to solve all of my problems by myself lately that I´ve almost forgotten how to ask for help. But suddenly they were just offering to help me. I am really grateful for their help, and all of the others who were helping me along the way.
Back in Oslo it is raining and cold again. The sunny days in Sæby, Denmark went over way too fast. But again, for the 3rd year in a row, I have a ton of great memories, plus a funny story to tell about the really long trip home.
Well... maybe tomorrow it will be funny.