Picture it: Austria, 2017. An aging BMW is moving through the autumn chill, past fallow fields and silent, mist-shrouded mountains. Having left the noisy Autobahn with its monotonous roar of traffic behind, the sturdy, faithful vehicle is navigating ever narrower roads, climbing, climbing. A couple of gentle eyed cows with heavy bells around their necks give the passerby a glance before returning to their task of nibbling at the tired grass. Here and there a brightly colored leaf still clings defiantly to a barren branch, but as the BMW draws near its destination, the brooding shapes of pine and spruce dominate the landscape with their rich, dark greens. Then the teenager stretched out sidelong in the back of the car, one long leg languidly propped against the passenger seat, breaks the companionable silence with the age old question dreaded by parents far and wide.
“Are we there yet?”
“Not quite my darling, not quite”
“That’s what I get for asking that question, right?”
“She said darling. We’re not at DEFCON sweetheart yet” pipes up the sister teen in the passenger seat, swatting away a playful foot poking into her shoulder.
“Speaking of threat levels. If we don’t find coffee for mother soon, we’ll have a Situation.”
“Mountains to mole hills” nods the elder sagely “with extra craters and blue smoke. Oh look, more cows!”
“I hear they don’t explode well. Say, those 5 seconds when I had cell reception earlier, I found a cafe. About 4 klicks southwest-ish”
“Which would put us…”
“2 o’clock! Now now NOW!” with the honed reflexes of the military child, younger teen barks the order and braces herself against long suffering sister’s shoulder, split seconds before the vehicle decelerates rapidly and swerves right.
“Impeccable timing,” proud mother declares as the BMW coasts towards a small parking lot in front of a – Google be Praised – charming little Viennese-style Kaffeehaus.
“Tu Felix Austria,” nods the youngling in the back “even though they have no kangaroos.”
“No what now?”
“Oh, don’t worry. I took a picture.”