You know when you have one of those Mondays where you should have stayed in bed?
Well, I had one this week
It started well. The sun was shining , and I had a 2 hour drive to Cornwall and a day delivering training to look forward to. I love driving .. And my job.
I tootled around the house, had a little chat on Twitter, packed all my stuff and set off bright and early in my beloved Molly, to ensure I reached my destination in plenty of time.
Obstacle No. 1
As I fired up the engine I remembered I needed fuel. I had intended to get Sunday evening but, after a weekend with my grandson, once I had sat down I was unable to move again!
So, first stop the garage…. They’d only just opened and were in no particular hurt to either prime the pumps, or take my money.
So, with a full tank of fuel, my favourite music playing very loudly , and satnav set, off I went again
All was going so well , and I was only about 12 miles from my destination when I noticed the passenger side of my windscreen was wet… Then I looked and saw steam rising from the bonnet!! NO! Disaster. Poor Molly!!
luckily I noticed a sign for a lay by 1/4 mile away, and slowly limped towards it.
A quick search through my wallet revealed that, yes, I did have my AA card with me.
I rang, and was quickly connected to a very pleasant operator who first established I was in a safe place. And that I was travelling alone. Then she set about pinpointing my exact location.
Obstacle No 2
Geography and map reading have never been my strong points….. I knew I was on the A30, and I knew I was in Cornwall, and I was about 12 miles from Truro….. Apart from that I didn’t have a clue!!
“Can you see any road signs “? The nice lady asked
“Are the any landmarks “?
“Do you know where you are”?
“Kinda of… I’m in Cornwall”
Then I had one of those rare flashes of genius …. I checked the satnav!
It told me I had just passed an industrial estate and was 1/2 mile from a junction
“Right, I’ve got you ” said nice lady
“One of our patrols will be with you in about 40 mins”
By now it was fairly obvious I was going to be late for my session. So spent the next 1/4 hour contacting the office, the venue, and trying to contact client to let them know.
And all the while Molly was quietly steaming away .
After about 30 minutes my phone rang and “Andy” … My AA man of the day informed me he would be with me in the next 10 minutes.
10 minutes passed. No Andy
15 minutes passed. No Andy
20 minutes later. The phone rings. It’s “Andy” He can’t find me.
“I’ve driven up and down the dual carriageway” he tells me ” I can’t see you” “where did you say you were”?
I explain again….. Anyway, to cut a long story short… It transpires my satnav has been lying to me, and I have not passed an industrial estate at all!
Eventually, he arrives .
After a few checks “Andy” discovers Molly has a hole in her radiator. Thankfully the head gasket in still in one piece.
Now “Andy” was definitely “A Man Who Can” and was incredibly helpful and considerate
He decided he would tow me into Truro, source a radiator, and fit it while I was at work.
Silly me thought I would be sitting in the cab with him while Molly was towed on behind. Wrong!
“I just need you to turn on the ignition, put car in neutral, take her out of gear, and concentrate on the back of my van. Steer the same way as me, signal when I do, and break when I do” EASY! NOT!
After a terrifying 5 mile drive we pulled into another lay by . My hands were stuck to the steering wheel with sweat and I was cross-eyed from concentrating on his brake lights!
My’ man who can’ came round to tell me that, on this occasion, he ‘couldn’t’ ….. He wasn’t able to find a radiator for my model . So there was nothing else to do but arrange a recovery to home
I could either go with the car, or they could recover her without me. The only drawback with that was that it would be low priority and I may not get her back for 2-3 days. And she would be left in a car park. I wasn’t too happy about that, so went for first option.
Obstacle No 3
“Andy” wasn’t able to take me all the way back as he could only travel another 30 miles with the car on the back of his truck….. And that was at 35 mph So…he would take me to a service station where another recovery truck would meet us and take me the rest of the way.
Meanwhile I contacted a MX5 specialist garage near me, and they had a radiator. And they could lend me their courtesy car. But couldn’t get the car from my home. So could the recovery truck take me there. ‘Andy’ said that wasn’t a problem and entered the new post code
Obstacle No 3
Entering postcode sent AA computer, and office staff, into apoplexy
Was this still a primary recovery?
Was owner still with car?
Would there be any additional charges incurred?
After 6 phone calls it was deemed ok to continue….so we did. At 35 mph! Until we reached “Woody’s Diner’. In torrential rain.
As it was till pouring with rain Lawrence suggested I go and sit in his lorry while they unload Molly from one truck and onto the next one. This involves dashing across a , by now, flooded car park. I am wearing a summer dress and open toed sandals. My cardigan is in Molly. My umbrella in my kitchen at home. Also I need a step-ladder or Stanna chair lift to get into cab of lorry!
‘Man Who Can no 1’ gives me a cheery wave and drives off. By now it’s almost 1pm.
As we set off Lawrence checked he had the correct postcode … No. He didn’t ! So after another 2 phone calls we try again
Obstacle No 4
We’re pulling out of the car park and Lawrence asks me if I know anything about tachographs…..I’m not sure if this is a trick question or not so thought best to feign ignorance
Well… Apparently, it turned out, that Lawrence would be out of driving time in 40 minutes and would need to take a 45 minute break. He’d try to make it to a service station, if we could find one, otherwise it would have to be in a lay by. Deep joy! He also has no idea where we are as he comes from Bristol!
Lawrence is very sweet,and very talkative. In the next 40 minutes I discover he is South African. Was a Paramedic before coming to England. Spent 5 years in The Household Cavalry. Is new to the job, and on a temporary summer contract but hoping to secure a permanent one. Is married, and has a 4-year-old son.
And what I now don’t know now about tachographs, well it isn’t worth knowing!!
By this time Lawrence is getting anxious about finding somewhere to stop….and, frankly, I’m a little concerned about spending 45 minutes in some isolated lay by! I have an update every 2 minutes as to how long it is before he has to stop.
Luckily, I spy a sign for the M5, and know where we are….and, by a stroke of luck, a sign for a service station. We make it with 2 minutes to spare!
I leave Lawrence in his cab, and head for a coffee shop. But not before synchronising watches to ensure we are back on the road on time
At precisely 14.37 we set off again. Then Lawrence announces that, although he has 4 1/2 hours of driving time, he has to be back in Bristol by 6pm. So if he thinks he may not be able to make it, he may have to find another recovery lorry to take me to garage. I assure him that he WILL make it in plenty of time….with my fingers crossed behind my back!
Apart from one more stop to “make a small correction to his computer system” the rest of the journey went without incident and we arrived at the garage at 16.06 precisely. I know this because a) Lawrence told me and b) I had spent most of the journey texting a friend (well, just in case I was never seen again, she had a name and description to go on!) so I checked the time I texted her to say she could relax as I had arrived!
Another 25 minutes to unload Molly and complete paperwork and Lawrence was free to head home to Bristol.
And I left Molly in the capable hands of ‘Phil’ and headed for home in the rather nice courtesy car
Actually I have nothing but the highest praise for my 2 “Men Who Could”
They were helpful, courteous, and gave an excellent service.
And, Oh, if you ever wondered why, when you’re stuck in a long line of traffic behind a lorry and it leaves a large gap between it and the car in front, and doesn’t move….It’s to stop the wheels turning and to conserve on driving time for the tachograph!!