My summer of 2009: Crashing a car, a panic attack and drunk fire fighters

Fires reach Athens' suburb Penteli.

Fires reach Athens’ suburb Penteli.

So we owe you a real life drinking story. Well, here we go. This tale takes place in the summer of 2009 in Greece, where I (Micky) was on holiday, visiting some old friends. The big climax of the story is when the forest fires in my last days reached the suburbs of Athens, where I stayed. However, we will pick up the story from the start of the vacation, so you’ll understand this was a bit of a hectic summer.

Before coming to Greece the summer regime had already started for me.  I got the maximum score for my internship and didn’t feel like doing additional classes for my university. So from the first day of June the ‘drinking season’ had opened. I was working a little during that time to finance the beers, but not more than I had to. The weather was great in Holland and after a heavy internship I felt like I deserved some time off. I wasn’t going on holiday until half way July, so I was just drinking with friends from my hometown. In the last week before going to Greece, however, I felt a bit guilty when I was quite drunk from beer and whiskey. I decided I should do something constructive, like put in an effort to get my driver’s license. So I convinced a friend to take my mother’s car for a ride.

Now he wasn’t that drunk and actually drove pretty well. But when I said I wanted to take the wheel, he preferred to get out of the car. Given my state, probably the best solution. I remember asking him which pedal did what, since it had been 2 years since my last driving lesson and, well, I was quite hammered. So surprise, surprise… In the first corner I hit a pole on the middle of the road, turned the wheel around and crashed into 12 parked bicycles. My friend, who wasn’t too far, ran back and wanted to get this car out of there and take me home. But he had not started the car yet, when a guy came down and we started the following conversation:
– Hey you guys, I already called the cops.
Me: Now why would you do that? They’ll come for nothing, since we are just leaving.
– Well, I already took your license plate.
Me: Hmmm… In that case I think we will wait.

When the cops came we kept the Monty Pyton level going. First he asked me for my driver’s license. I answered: “I would love to give it to you, but there is one minor problem: I don’t have one.” After they asked me if I had been drinking, I replied: “You better believe I did, sir!” and after he pulled a breathalyzer on me, I asked curious: “What’s my score, officer? Did I blow some kind of record?” Well it was no record, but the 0,267 BAC was enough to have my mom’s car confiscated. Well, me not having a license also did the trick of course. When reading this you probably think what an idiot. And well, I can only confirm this. I would have hated myself if I hit a person instead of a bike. But well, since all is done we can only learn from our mistakes and, believe me, I have. So let’s continue the story. This was gonna be a huge fine and one hell of a fight with the owner of the car, that I knew for sure. My mom came home from holiday the day before I left for Greece and, of course, there was a confrontation. She also demanded that I would have the car repaired with new parts. Instead of around 500 euro we were looking at a bill of 3.000. What a way to start the holiday.

Well in Greece I decided to enjoy life and after 2 days in Athens we went to the island of Naxos, where I would meet all my old friends. Of course there was some heavy drinking involved, but little sleep and I still felt kinda stressed because of the situation at home. One day I only had two double Greek coffees for breakfast and went swimming in the sea, that was quite wild that day. After I left the water I had a panic attack. Probably the stress, the drinking, the Greek heat, the lack of sleep, the coffees and the physical exercise all together were too much for me. Cause I thought that I was dying. Well, the doctor said I should not drink or smoke for a week and I´d be fine.

Beer in the morning became standard at Naxos.

Beer in the morning became standard at Naxos.

But after one day of abstinence life got pretty boring. No drinking on holiday? No way! I also noticed that each morning I felt stressed like a new panic attack was coming up, but when I drank a few beers, that calmed my nerves. So for the rest of the holiday I basically drank constantly. Some beers in the morning and at night the hard stuff came out. I was lucky enough to have a group of friends that basically lived by the same schedule, although excessive drinking is not typically Greek. But these guys lived by the motto ‘The liver is the enemy, we should punish him’. And oh boy, did we show that little bastard who was boss. Every night we made him suffer in various clubs on this Greek island.

I finished the holiday of 3 and a half weeks back in Athens. It was now August, hot and windy. And that meant one thing: forest fires. The hills around Athens were deliberately set on fire, so no nature would stand in the way of construction plans for new villas. My friend lived in the suburb called Penteli. We could follow the fireline coming closer on the news, until we first saw it coming over the hill right in front of his house. The family with 2 little kids realized they might had to flee their home. My penultimate night we stayed up all night, while I was drinking Malamatina bottles. A brand of Greek retsina that is known to leave you dehydrated and with a massive headache. But I couldn’t get drunk. The glow coming from behind the hills made the adrenaline rush through my body.

On TV we saw the fire getting closer.

On TV we saw the fire getting closer.

At the break of dawn the first flames came over the hill.

At the break of dawn the first flames came over the hill.

At first daylight the first flames became visible and around noon the fire had reached the houses of Penteli. We had to flee the area and leave this fight to the firemen. We brought the kids to another house in the city and returned to check on the situation. What I saw reminded me of a war movie that went went a little nuts on special effects. Penteli was a relatively green neighborhood, but all the trees were burning, as were many houses including the one of my friend’s neighbors. With the fire threatening the big gas tank in the garden we made a run for it for the second time. Luckily for my friends family, a helicopter threw a full load of water on their house and that saved almost  all their belongings.

The smoke tortured our longues like hell.

The smoke tortured our lungs like hell.

When we returned in the evening the fire brigade had the situation more or less under control. Everywhere trees were burning, but it didn’t look like the fire was going to light up big time again. Still we were cautious. My flight left the next morning, but this was no time to sleep. My friend and I decided to stay up and watch the area while drinking huge amounts of beer. This was, of course, still my last night and we had to drink for the nice holiday before, to the few people that died in the fires, to the ones who lost everything, to my friend’s family being lucky so far, to our own safety, to a safe flight back to Holland. So we drank liters and liters of beer and, of course, every five minutes we had to release some liquids from the body.

Conveniently enough, we used our urine to extinguish small fires in the neighbor’s garden. Sometimes we made a small round through the area putting out fires left and right. A full night our bladders worked like 2 extra water tanks on a fire truck. We also found a new gas tank, just alight by a pyromaniac to bring new life to the fire. Too bad we didn’t catch the creep red handed, for he would have paid heavily for his crimes. Anyway, in the morning I arrived on the airport covered with black stains and smelling like smoke and beer. That made especially the transfer in the fashion city Milan an interesting one.  But I didn’t really mind. Knowing there were people back in Athens who lost everything, put things in the right perspective. My mother’s damaged car all of a sudden didn’t seem that big of a deal anymore.

Micky Bumbar

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4 thoughts on “My summer of 2009: Crashing a car, a panic attack and drunk fire fighters

  1. i was mesmerized with this tale abroad… of foreign fires, panic, stress, booze…a wild life you’ve had.

    that must’ve been a scary panic attack in the sea. my heart goes out to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha I thought I was done. Well that’s what panic attacks are all about. Glad I didn’t follow the doctor’s advise. Got drunk every day of my holyday since then. It’s funny how beer and vodka can cure stress. 😉


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