Absolutely no chance of arriving on time
Bearing the traffic congestion in Cologne and on the surrounding motorways in mind, I had left an hour earlier for my talk, to which pathologist Dr Dag-Daniel Dittert had invited me. If Dr Dittert invites you, you arrive on time, full stop, no discussion. A relaxed cruising along the autobahn and my destination was suddenly only 13kms away. I already envisaged spending my extra hour in lecture theatre 6 and start to plan what I will do. Suddenly the radio speaker announces that I am about to hit a 4km long traffic jam. A minute later I am stationary, parked on the autobahn, part of an awful solid line of cars. Powerless to do anything I can only watch as the clock on my satnav ticks steadily on. By now I have lost 30 minutes and now I am fighting against the clock. After all these years it looks as though this will be my first presentation at which I myself will not be present. A two-hour drive to Cologne for nothing. How frustrating. A fervent prayer heavenwards and a constant eying of the clock.
On the right I espy a small slot between two lorries behind which I discover a further lane. I pass by the traffic jam on the right and hold my breath. I make some progress and finally enter rock-solid Cologne: cars everywhere. At 7:20p.m. I call Dr Dittert: “Bad news, I have no idea when and how I will arrive, but I am on my way. Has anyone turned up?” The pathologist answers in an offhanded way: “Some!” Not a word too many, the Spartans would have been proud of him!
Somehow I reach my destination. I grab my books, my laptop and hurry into the university’s main building and follows signs pointing to the criminological institute. Lecture theatre 6 is my goal.
I throw open the door. 50 people look at me totally relaxed. There is absolutely no panic or stress here. My presentation should provide the thrill.
The spark leaps over to my audience and the echo afterwards is fantastic. Potential future staff for the missionary hospital queue up, waiting to speak to me. Around 10p.m. I head back along the corridors I had so hastily rushed through a couple of hours previously. I start the engine and am on my way southwards again. And there was me expecting an evening in a lecture theatre without my taking part in my event. KDJ