Thursday, 9 January 2014

My Odyssey

Traveling is very big part of a freelance musician's everyday life. You learn to live in airports, sleep in any kind of moving vehicle and master the art of relaxing in uncomfortable chairs. You get to learn how to tolerate extreme conditions and situations and how to stay calm when everyone else is annoyed and scared. You know you will get to your destination. Somehow. Anyhow. You learn how to get information in a language you don't speak and to be friendly and understanding with strangers who you might share your way for a while.
But last week's journey definitely deserves a longer post.
Getting from A to B in Europe within a given time interval can be very tricky. Around the holidays it can be even more tricky.
I was given a 36 hour time frame to get myself from A to B with my usual survival kit including instrument(s), moving office, half my wardrobe and this time on top of all these, my Christmas presents and of course tons of food you have to take from home in case you will suffer a cake-withdrawal syndrome after the holidays.
I found the best and most economical option which looked like a car share. Agreed weeks before. Cancelled the day before. Other driver, fine, fixed. Start is about 5 hours later than I expected, we still have good chance to get to B around midnight. I thought. Turns out this is an organised people  transportation business.
So I found myself in a car with 8 strangers including the one driver. Given the distance it could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship but the situation turned out to be more like an art movie than a holliwood family movie. Characters including an ex-soldier driver, a patriotic man who is stuffing typical hungarian food into his mouth to make the long journey less boring, a quiet, smiley guy from Afghanistan in the corner who can only speak german, 2 very giggly young blonds, a know-it-all oldish lady who has two settings: either snores or tries is to talk to someone, a nurse guy, a broken handed builder guy and me, the musician. The deathmobil had to pick up and drop off all the passengers at the exact address. After a quick round question it got very clear to me that this will mean sometimes even 100km detours so I might be arriving to B a bit later than I thought. But because I will be driven to the house it doesn't really matter. I thought. Im the last one to be dropped off, I just stop thinking and follow orders and chill out. I thought. But around 6pm the general vibe starts to change. People are getting angrier being squeezed into a metal box for already 13 hours, realising they won't get to their destinations on time even with the constant speeding. Dropping off a few passengers proved to be more difficult than expected. Knowitall Lady walked through the front door of the wrong house at 2 AM(!). Finding the right door in a village with only 6 houses in the middle of a forest wasn't easy. The driver expecting the payment from the family there is getting angrier and angrier as it turns out they don't know anything about this arrangement. Meanwhile the gang back in the car discovers a wet surprise the lady left on the seat.. Really? As an adult who is traveling across the continent to start working as a carer? Not OK. That's kind of helping to build a group feeling and makes us giggle a bit. But only the passengers, not the driver of course.
Finally the last person before me, the afghan guy is dropped of at the main station in Frankfurt at 5 am. Then it is only me and the driver left. Is he tired after 25 hours behind the wheel?? I'm trying to talk to him to keep him awake. Realising he is in much better shape than me! He does this kind of things regularly, he had military training and he is really a tough guy. We pick up his girlfriend before the last 2 hours of driving to B. This is the point when it really gets bizarre even for me. The girlfriend is not exactly modest and kind of distracting him from the road, kissing, hugging him at 6 am, while we speed through Germany and arrive to my destination, to the HIP4tet headquarters, to my safe place at 7am. The last 2 hours of the drive I was in such a stress that I never felt more relived to leave any vehicle in my life before.  Distance: about 2200 km. Time: approx 27 hours. What the 2 people left in the car did in the parking place, is nothing to do with me!
With shaky legs I ring the doorbell and go to sleep for 4 hours until the start of my rehearsal.

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