Sunday, 23 March 2014

The twenty-second archival element of the year.

a pebble's throw from an earlier pebble throw

Archival remnant 22 catalogue no 753

Ok so this is how it works.
In France, in life, I’m not sure which – round here at least.
My car won’t start.
I get a push, I get home, the next morning it won’t start.
I change the battery.
It starts.
Brmmm – brmmm.
But now the radio won’t start.
You disconnect the battery, replace it and reconnect and the car forgets that you are you, and demands that you enter a code to reactivate the radio.
A four-digit code.
“It’s me! The one who took your dead battery out! “ I explain.
The car ignores me.
Me, being me, I don’t know the code.
I look in the books that tell me how to open the bonnet and change a tyre but they don’t tell me the code.
But I know all the digits that exist, how difficult can this be?
I drive (miles out of my way) to the garage from whence the car came.
They don’t sell cars anymore and, of the two guys who used to work there, only the one who looked and acted like an unscrupulous mafia of the nastier side of second hand car scams remained.
“What happened to that nice guy who I bought the car from?”
“He’s in prison.”
I asked the guy not in prison for the code of my radio, he said he didn’t have it but said I just had to go to Renault ask and they will get it from the computer in a few minutes.
I had a few minutes so I drove (a few more miles out of way) to the local Renault concession.
“Blah, blah, battery, blah, radio, blah, blah, code,” I explained.
“I’ll need a copy of your log book, I’ll send it to head office but I won’t get the answer till Monday.”
It was Friday afternoon about six.
Fair enough.
I drove home.
I don’t go past that place very often – at the moment only on Friday’s.
Friday comes along and on the way home from work I pull up at the local Renault place.
“Hi, I came in a week a go, “Blah, blah, battery, blah, radio, blah, blah, code,” I explained.
“I haven’t received it yet.”
“Oh.” I must have looked surprised enough for him to have at least asked if I was ok, but since he didn’t I continued. “Is that normal?”
“No” and there the conversation died.
 That happens to me a lot.
Only afterwards did words come to my mouth – ‘could you contact them again?’ – would have been good.
A week goes past.
It’s Friday again.
I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m not singing.
I park under the big sign that says Renault.
“Hi. Hi, blah blah a week a go, blah, blah, battery, blah, radio, blah, blah, code,” I said.
“It hasn’t come yet.”
“There will be a fee.”
“Oh, Ok”
And the conversation died.
I went home.
I brooded all weekend.
I considered arson.
On Monday afternoon/evening at 6, I drive to the little garage on the other side of the hill.
It was the first garage I went to in these parts twenty-one years ago but never go that way anymore. It’s run by Madame Pillon, whom I would have thought would have retired years ago but in fact she lives there, so why should she. Her son Jerome is the mechanic; she handles the pumps, and watches her grandson playing among the discard tyres.
I explain the problem to Jerome.
“We need to do this at office hours, I need the log book and about 5 minutes. It’s free.”
It was after office hours. 
A few days later I turned up at office hour time, something difficult to estimate in France with large corporations.
I gave him my log book.
He picked up the phone.
He sat in my car, push, push, push, push.
Four minutes, twenty three seconds.

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