So, my car broke down on Friday afternoon. I had gone to the local shop (which is actually a pub) to get the kids an ice block, and when I turned the key to return home the dashboard lights came on – then nothing. And then the dashboard lights wouldn’t turn off.
Damn! I thought to myself, ice blocks dripping in my hand. Well, this is why I pay my yearly membership to the NRMA (a roadside assistance service). Of course, there’s no mobile phone reception because I am near home, but still in the middle of nowhere…but there is a perfectly working phone booth, 2 metres away from my car. You know, those public phones where you drop 50c into the slot and then dial the number you want. I know, right.
The NRMA man will be here within the hour, I’ve tucked my ice blocks back into the freezer, and now there is nothing to do but wait. It’s hot, but there are wooden trestle tables under a long, deeply shaded wisteria trellis. The sign tells me that there is free wifi, but I haven’t bought any devices – nothing except my purse. So, I sit as comfortably as I can on the narrow plank of the seat and allow my mind to drift. There are a group of locals gathered around their customary table on the far corner of the verandah, and I can hear their laughter and good-natured ribbing filter across to me. The young man behind the bar is playing Kings of Leon on the sound system, and a man and a woman share a quiet beer behind me.
I’m trying to remember the last time I had to call the NRMA out, and I can’t. It was a different story when I was young…I was almost on first name basis with the operator :). I remember calling them out early one morning when I lived in Newcastle. I was on my way to work, and mysteriously, my car wouldn’t start. The man (they’re always men, and unfailingly polite, friendly and competent), opened my door, shifted the automatic gear shift out of drive and into park and then started the car. I gaped in horror and embarrassment – my flatmate’s boyfriend had driven the car the day before, turned it off in drive, and I hadn’t even thought to check :).
At one stage the Bear brings down my iPad and disconnects the battery so that the car doesn’t go flat while I wait and then returns home with the kids. After all, there’s no point in all of us waiting. The man arrives, takes apart the ignition under the steering wheel, rigs it up so that I can start the car with a screwdriver and sends me home, telling me firmly that it’s just a temporary fix, and to go and get a new ignition barrel as soon as possible. I grin at the thought of what kind of person would actually view this as a permanent fix, thank him, and go home.
It doesn’t escape my notice that on the eve of the Sagittarius new moon, as well as the Sun’s movement into Sagittarius (representing travel, freedom and adventure) I am effectively stranded. Sagittarius also represents the philosopher and higher learning, so I suppose I’ll be traveling in my mind. People, I live 25 minutes away from the nearest town, and there is no public transport.
The Bear asks me if I want him to handle it…I say no, I’ll do it. We have vastly different ways of handing these things and it will just lead to problems, of that I was sure. I ring the car repair place on Monday morning to book my car in, and they tell me that they are short staffed and can see me next week. Crap. Reluctantly I ring the mechanic who lives down the road – I don’t want to put him out, but I can’t see any other way around it.
He rings me when he gets home from work with it’s hot! it’s hot! it’s hot! It is – we’ve had days and days of over 35ºC, cracking 40ºC on Sunday and everyone is wearing a bit thin with it. He tells me to get the part and he’ll come and fix it after work. Awesome. I love that man :). I ring the spare parts shop and miraculously they have a new replacement ignition barrel for a 1996 Commodore. The assistant found this out for me after he had greeted my request with a surprised, we’re not the wreckers you know! Oh, actually – I think we have one of those.
John the mechanic pops in straight after work to put the new barrel in – and finds to his frustration that he can’t. No matter what he does, that barrel will not go in. Finally, he tells me that I need to get a steering lock, and this time I will need to ring the wreckers. So I do, and they have have what I want. The Bear won’t be able to pick it up until tomorrow afternoon. Sigh.
This is now 5 days of not having a car. The first four days I was accepting, curious and a bit amused – what have you got in store for me now, Universe? I do what I need to do, and wait for it to unfold. Today though, I feel defeated. I can see that the car isn’t going to be repaired in anything like the timetable I had hoped, through nobody’s fault. I can feel all of the emotions from the 12 months I was stranded without a car rising up – feeling alone, abandoned, like I have no help, frustrated and worst of all, trapped. I’m irritated that I’m spending money and time on a car that we should have replaced by now, but for various reasons haven’t. I am aware that none of these feelings are actually true, but nevertheless, I have a strong, irrational desire to hide, preferably somewhere warm and dark like my bed.
Anyway. It’s not solved yet people – I’ll keep you posted. When I come out from under my blankets :)
Meanwhile, please keep me entertained – what’s your best breakdown story?