It must have been around 1970. On our way from the Netherlands to Norway - somewhere in Hamburg - the car broke down; V-belt broken. It was an early Saturday afternoon. Luckily, there was a garage nearby. Dad - a marine engineer himself - described the problem to the mechanics and asked if they could get us back on the road. They refused. We could come back on Monday, then they would take a look. Determined to get to our destination as soon as possible, this was not an option.
Then dad – explaining his technical background - asked if he could use their tools so that he could fix the problem himself. They mockingly refused. Frustrated, he brought mom and us (children aged 14, 10 and 8), with all our luggage, to a nearby hotel. At a petrol station on the way back to the car - which was still in front of the garage – he bought the tools and materials he thought he’d need.
Without uttering a single word, dad started working on the engine - with the car mechanics as his (mocking) spectators. Due to the falling darkness, he was unable to finish the job that evening, so he continued early the next morning, with us (ánd the owner of the garage who was determined to see if this peculiar foreigner would succeed in getting the car working again) – anxiously waiting on the pavement in front of the garage.
When the job was done, and dad managed to get the engine working again, I was bursting with pride. This was my dad and he did it! I’ll never forget the expression on the mechanic’s face, which was a combination of disbelief and admiration.
All is well that ends well. We arrived at our destination unscathed. But the whole event had a tremendous impact on me. And a lesson for life was learnt.
Savner deg Boebie. Have a happy Father’s Day der oppe!