Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ahmed and Ahmed, Automobile Samaritans

Today I was saved from automotive ignominy by Ahmed and Ahmed, two of the finest Pakistani gentlemen ever to walk on Swedish soil.

I am not into cars. I got my driver's license at age 22 and I bought my first car at age 33, less than a year ago. Actually, I bought two old cars for last summer's excavations: a five-seater 1990 SAAB and a seven-seater 1994 Pontiac minibus.

My dad and my brother picked them out for me and helped me get them into shape. They were thrilled that bookish Martin was finally taking an interest in something they love and cherish. I am very grateful to them.

And the cars performed as one might reasonably expect. I drove the SAAB, Howard and his students drove the Ponty, and we did our dig. Then the SAAB became the Rundkvist family car and the Ponty went into hibernation while I tried to sell it. As I still do (Only SEK 25 000! Please take it off my hands!).

I've kept the Ponty's battery alive all winter and drove it very recently. So you can imagine how I felt this morning when I got behind the wheel to go to annual vehicle inspection and the ignition was dead. The first car inspection of my life. Dead car. What do I do now?

Nobody was around. I was thinking of calling a taxi to jump-start me when my neighbours Ahmed and Ahmed showed up. I've known at least one of them by sight for years, but I've never talked to him before. Now I asked them for help. And they were right on the job without a moment's hesitation.

First we tried to start the Ponty by rolling it. No luck. Then the Ahmeds asked me if I had any cables, and since neither myself nor they had any, I suggested I'd go to the gas station and buy some. "OK", said Ahmed, "we'll be here with my car in 15 minutes". And I did. And they were. And the Ponty started immediately. This was the first time I'd ever opened its hood.

Parting from the Ahmeds with many thanks and promises of remaining indefinitely at their service for car-rolling and furniture-moving, I took the Ponty on a long spin to re-charge the battery, and then went to the vehicle inspection plant. The guy spent 15 minutes on the thing and then told me to go get its exhaust pipe, left front brake and rear brake light repaired before returning for re-inspection. I suppose this would send many car owners swearing and spitting, but I was just so happy. Ahmed and Ahmed had helped me make it on time to my first car inspection, the sun was shining and the Ponty hadn't been condemned outright. So I left with a smile on my face.

And tomorrow it's inspection time for the SAAB.

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