Sunday, 5 September 2010

36. Knights of the Road

I have a twelve year old car. At least, I think it's 12 years old...I never bothered to work out her actual age. I think if it was converted to human years, then she might get a bit embarrassed if I told you. Yes, you read "she".

My car is a she and - close your eyes now if you don't like rude names - she's called "The Bitch". It was a name she got when I first bought her and the gears were...defective. She's been good as gold ever since but the name kind of stuck. Oh, she's had her little expenses. The starter motor, and the windscreen wiper (not the blade, the actual metal part, which costs a fortune). But she's a good car.

Today, however, she broke down. In the worst place possible. On the A30 (the busiest therefore most dangerous, and main road - "arterial route" - through Cornwall), in a place where it turns into a single-carriage road, and with a blind corner.

Imagine driving up a hill and then hearing a snap...and then feeling your accelerator pedal turn floppy. I moved in automation: first mirror check; then hazard lights; then keep going as far as the decelerating car could get us to a safe zone. There was no safe zone. Edged into the side of the road, as tightly as I could get, we got out of the car and waded through soaking grass and bushes to get to a nearby gate where I called the AA.

I am so glad I renewed my AA membership this year. It makes sense, with an older vehicle, but sometimes you have to think about budgets. The woman said it could take up to an hour! In the soaking, foggy rain and cars whizzing by like it was a motorway, not even slowing down to overtake. OMG.

There was a little voice inside me, though, that whispered that my car was old: one small dent and it would be written off; the insurance money would come in handy right now. But the worst thing I imagined was that someone would be overtaking at speed and hit someone driving in the opposite direction. There's no way I'd want to ever put anyone in danger. So we called the police.

While we waited, people drove past with glares. Cold, hard faces that were somehow blaming us for causing them 2 seconds delay on their journey. No one stopped. Out of the four cars that used their hazards to warn other people of the danger, two of them were foreign. That, out of hundreds of cars. What has happened to people that has turned them into these uncaring people who get angry about the fraction of inconvenience we caused?

And the knights of the road: the policeman and the AA-man. They were great! Only when the policeman showed up, did the cars slow down and the cold glares change to curiosity. The AA man put us on a tow bar and took us to a garage so he could fix the car with a temporary accelerator cable (being towed with no power steering nor servo-assisted brakes was the strangest experience I've ever had in a car). These are the people who put themselves in danger on busy roads to assist people like us. And I'd like to say a big THANK YOU! :-)

And, after all, it was like a mini adventure. Breaking down. Having the blue flashing lights of a copper come to keep us, and others, safe on the roads. Being towed, and having a police escort (okay, one motorbike up to the roundabout, but it felt good). And the car...fixed and working again. And for some, that's just in a working day.  :-)


  1. That exact same thing happened with my mini van a few years back. I was driving along all innocently pulling around a busy corner when BAM no accelerator.

    And, speaking of people getting upset because of inconveniences such as this... a friend of mine was recently riding a train and the train hit a car that had a woman and her daughter in it. When the press interviewed one of the other women on the train she complained about the inconvenience because it delayed the train! She didn't even care that a woman and a toddler had died in the accident! She cared that she would be an hour late for her meeting! Ridiculously cold! I do NOT understand people not caring like that!

  2. OMG. I can't believe people can be so...uncaring. That's awful. I don't understand people like that either. It makes me feel a bit sad. :-(

    Thanks for the comment, Katrina. Good to see you back online. :-)