Don’t get squished…
My car, of just 8 years, spectacularly died last week.
On a very busy slip road, just off the M25, and as I accelerated to get onto the main carriageway the engine stopped. The car started to slow down pretty quickly, while the accelerating lorry behind me started to get closer.
Using my quick thinking reflexes and spideylike senses I reacted – yeah, I put the hazard lights on and slowly inched the car back across the slip road hoping to get to the other side.
I think I may have even attempted to jolt the car with a full body lunge, as if that would work.
So I sat there a bit shell shocked initially. Attempted to start the car again, but nothing. So you do the usual things, call recovery, message work to say, I am either going to be late or in all honesty, not arrive, however then I started to realise the full picture of my situation.
I was in a very busy slip road. Lorries and traffic were joining the slip road at some speed, and there I was sitting in a tin box that wouldn’t go. In their way.
I mentioned this to the lady on the recovery call.
“Ah you need to call the police. 101” She said.
“Really? They would come out for that?” I was a little incredulous, and a little British. One doesn’t call the police for a breakdown my dear.
Shaken into action by her confidence, I called 101 and ended up speaking to the wrong county police department, however they told me to call the big number…999.
There is something about calling the emergency services that generally doesn’t sit well with the majority of the public. It has to be deemed a real emergency for us to do that (well you would like to think so), and I didn’t feel this was. However, I had been told to do so by a Police Officer so who was I to question that?
The police arrived at the same time as the recovery vehicle. The recovery vehicle driver was a lot more bouyant than the two traffic cops that greeted me, and I suspected due to the early call out, (5.30 a.m.) that the pair of them hadn’t yet had their bacon sandwiches.
Now, I have never broken down on a motorway before. It is the oddest experience, as the vehicle you trust and rely on has let you down. You are completely out of your comfort zone and I have to be honest, I felt a little bewildered by it all.
I honestly didn’t know where to sit – in the car? Get out of the car? Sit on the side? It turns out – yes, on a busy road you get out of the car carefully, and sit on the side out of the way. This is because I have effectively shortened the slip road for these poor lorries to about 500 metres instead of nearly a mile and therefore made the situation dangerous. There was nothing I could do, of course, but this is why it is actually illegal to stop on a slip road.
Living in Spain you are not allowed to get out of a vehicle on a busy motorway without a high vis jacket. My brain told me I didn’t have one, and therefore shouldn’t get out of the car.
Wrong. Get out of the car. Get yourself to a position of safety – so if a 44 tonne lorry hits your car because they can’t stop or move out to the main carriageway, you’re not in it. Got it? I have too. The policeman made it very clear. So clear, he almost reduced me to tears.
I told you he hadn’t had his bacon sandwich.
So, learning points of the day children – get out of broken car and call 999 if you’re in a busy ‘live lane’ on a motorway. Don’t get squished.
As for the car – it is completely extinguished and is being scrapped as I type. A freak situation which means my engine is beyond repair. Bizarrely I found that incredibly shocking news – it’s not the death of anyone, it’s a stupid car for god’s sake; however, it has taken me a few days to come to terms of the implication of that.
Nevertheless, nothing will ruin the year of joy – so today is car shopping day. It feels very self indulgent to even consider buying a new car, but after this week’s experience, nothing less will do.
See you on the other side of my bank balance.