Today I had a client to visit some 15 miles away and so I decided, as I sometimes do, to drive there (rather than cycle), and then go for a drive and a walk after. Because I hadn’t used my car for about a month I checked it the day before and sure enough the battery was flat, so I charged it up. However, when I came to leave this morning the battery was flat again so I swapped it over with the other I have. I had kept this one in the house and it was quite new and I had previously charged it up. I tested it before fitting it and it showed good voltage (well over 12V).
I set off to visit my client. I arrived a little early so I parked up overlooking the ocean and read some of The Expanse book I’m reading. I then continued on to my client and helped her with her printer issues. Then on to my drive somewhere in North Wales…
Traffic started to build up approaching the Britannia Bridge (image below) that links Anglesey (where I live) with mainland Wales, and it was another warm day. We were all crawling along – so much traffic because of everyone in the UK holidaying in the UK rather than abroad because of C. – every vehicle stopping and starting, crawling along some more. I started to get concerned that my car was getting too hot; the temperature gauge had passed the half-way mark and was continuing on further – I hadn’t heard the fan kick in either so that was a bother… 75… 80… 90… it was nudging ‘100’ on the gauge, not yet into the red but it was heading that way, but that was the next stop. I could see that the road I was on was running out of space to pull over before it crossed over the bridge proper, so at the last moment I decided it would be safer to pull over there, at the end of the slip-road, and let my car cool down a little rather than continue on and have it go thermonuclear somewhere with nowhere to get out of the traffic. I’d hoped the traffic could have gotten moving before this point so I could have kept moving and gotten some air passing through the engine-bay, but no.
I put the hazard lights on, popped the bonnet, and got out (nimbly climbing through the car to get out of the passenger door rather than out into traffic, not that it was exactly hurtling past) and opened the bonnet to help things cool down. I then sat back in the car and calmly read some more of The Expanse book while the constant flow of traffic trundled past. I thought of all the people wondering what my car was doing there, evidently “broken down”, perhaps seeing me sat in there and reading a book! But hey, I thought I was doing the logical thing!
After reading another chapter (perhaps 30 minutes) I decided the car’s temperature was down enough for me to rejoin the traffic, so I hopped back out, closed the bonnet, and then hopped back in and through to the driver’s seat… and went to start the engine, but it didn’t want to; the battery was flat again and it would barely turn over. [Insert Expletive #1]
What now? I considered that someone could perhaps push start me, but who out of all of these hundreds of people, strangers, crawling past in their own cars? There was also too much traffic too, I thought, to safely push a car – I don’t like the thought of being an inconvenience to anyone, especially a bunch of starey-starers who would probably blame me for all of the slow traffic. I decided to ignore the issue for a little longer and read another chapter of the book. The hazards were still blinking away. After that I then tried the key again just to make sure it really wasn’t going to start, you know as you do when you know it’s futile, but no, now it just clicked [Insert Expletive #2], not even enough juice to turn it over (the blinkers probably didn’t help!) so I guessed that might be a problem for push-starting. So (my brain clicked into gear), I set off on foot to get another battery; I knew where to go to get one.
It can be difficult finding your way when you’re used to driving a certain route, and the road I was walking was not meant for pedestrians so I wanted to get off that road (even though it would lead me to where I wanted to get to) and find another way, perhaps more direct. I failed a little in this endeavour but I found the road I wanted, after a slight detour, complete with battery-selling-places. I bought an (overpriced) battery (twice the price as what I could have paid online for one); that part of the story I will cut short.
Now I needed to get back to my car, carrying a not-so-light battery (thankfully my car has a relatively small one!) I took the route I should have really taken on the way, alongside the busy road, but there was a barrier between me and the traffic, so it ended up not being so bad… only one person hooted at me while I hopped across a slip-road (well) ahead of him. #tit
I got back across the bridge; I’d been swapping the battery from one hand to the other the whole way after a few paces to alleviate the stress on my fingers (they were getting pretty tired now!) I was almost back to where I’d left the car. I saw a car transporter go past towing someone else’s car and I remember considering that was a bad omen; “What if my car had been towed away?” (I had already considered it as a possibility given the stretch of road). Then two highway patrol vehicles were coming towards me and sure enough they pulled in, indicating to me to stop. The short part of the story here is that my car had indeed been towed, although only recently, not that it made any difference [Insert Expletive #3 – quietly to myself]; I hadn’t seen it as I’d been walking as I’d had my head down, not staring at every oncoming vehicle.
It’s times like these that I hate the system, what with everything being done by the letter, ticking boxes etc.; the officers told me how it was, I knew how it was, and I just accepted it, taking the day on the chin and one situation after another as they presented themselves; there’s no countering this. There was no “Oh we could ring ahead and get the driver to stop and we’ll drive you there… [that solution to the story would only take perhaps 10 minutes]” as might be portrayed in a children’s story with a happy ending, like an episode of Postman Pat or Fireman Sam, where the characters are more human than the humans of reality, do good deeds like this, and don’t have to contend with a system, or have a job to get on with… bureaucracy, and red tape. No, this is the cold, hard, real world; suck it up and accept it for what it is.
I got the details of where my car was heading… the next city over, back the way I’d come, jeez. Now how do I get to there? The officers weren’t all that happy that I’d walked across the bridge (as I said, this one is not for pedestrians) and instructed me to leave the road by the slip-road (where my car should have been!) This I did [not before muttering another expletive once out of ear-shot], stopping at the slip-road to phone the garage where my car was heading, because I needed directions if I was going to get there. I then tried thumbing a lift for a while.
This was surely the first time in my life I’d ever thumbed a lift (or attempted to). A quiet part of me had looked forward to this moment when I had, over the years, considered what I’d do if I ever broke down, or got my bike stolen, or something like that. A couple of times I have given lifts to hitch-hikers, or once or twice even helped to push-start someone, but now I regretted the few times I had failed to stop for people.
One guy pulled over in his van and asked where I was heading… not the same way as him it transpired, which for him was all the way to Scotland! Well, if I had wanted an even bigger excursion… even he said it was a shame; for a moment he had the hope of a companion for his long drive! I thanked him for stopping and then saw him off. (Perhaps this was another omen telling me something).
All of the on-coming cars seemed to be driven by a different breed of human; the human of the masses, a being that feels almost alien to me. I recognised how they looked passed me as I stood there tentatively sticking my thumb out. I’d done that too to people when I didn’t want to actively decline a request (like those few hitch-hikers I hadn’t stopped for, tramps asking for money, or someone collecting for charity). I could see the karma in that; now it was theirs! I see the types of cars most people drive today, appliances on wheels, and they make me feel that such people, the masses, are lost in their own little in-human world, the world of materialism that lacks any sort of soul. The term ‘normies’ seems to have arisen since last year, and it’s a label that fits; normies don’t stop for hitch-hikers; not that I object to everyone who fails to stop for a stranger – we can all have our reasons – normies might catch the C. off me. Perhaps I appeared to lack a soul as I stood there with my thumb out; I tried smile at people, to look friendly enough to pull over for. That probably didn’t help my cause.
I lack friends in this world, people I can call on, I’ve acknowledged this internally for quite a while; sometimes I’ve mulled it over when I’m experiencing a low, other times I just accept it as a reality God has decided for me, and now this state of things was playing out, the day was in God’s hands; I was striving to remain independent and get myself out of a sticky situation – a friend could be useful right now, or a dad, or even another friendly soul to lend a hand.
I gave up and phoned my sister; my closest friend in this world, but the one I usually help out in times like these rather than the other way round! She was working relatively nearby, and while I could have succeeded in thumbing a lift at some point, and gotten to where I needed to be without wasting/costing me any more of my time (not that I was so much bothered about this, time is time; this situation wasn’t exactly hindering my day) or hers, I had sort of given up on that prospect.
Sure enough, my sister would be finishing work soon and she could pick me up and take me to my car. We agreed on a location to meet and I set off once more with the battery in hand; it felt lighter at first, like my arm muscles had gotten used to the weight, but soon enough my fingers started to object. I got to the meeting spot and I awaited my sister’s arrival; I’d told her to finish her work as planned rather than in any way imply she should drop everything for me… so it was perhaps almost another hour until she got there (I guess hitching a lift from a stranger would have been quicker). Sadly I didn’t have my book with me to read as I’d left it in the car, so I sat and people-watched.
It was literally a 10 mile drive to pick up my car; it wasn’t at the garage I thought the guy on the phone was directing me to, so it was lucky it was my sister driving me there as we got directions on her phone, rather than perhaps a stranger just dropping me off at the wrong place and me having a further ordeal. My sister was somewhat bothered by how the police had left me to walk from that road, concerned that, as a girl, or a mother with kids, what the situation would have been like, but I just said it’s unlikely she’d have left the car like I had! I didn’t care for any sympathy from the officers (or the system); they just do their job, and I took my excursion in its stride (literally!) and shall call it an adventure!
10 miles was how far the tow truck had taken my car (although they had towed it other places besides as it had only just arrived at the yard when we got there) and for that I was charged £150. *sigh*
The guy asked for the key so it could be driven out of the yard to me and I chuckled as I replied, “It has a flat battery, that’s why it’s here…” so another guy walked me round to my car, which had by now been unhitched from the back of the tow truck; at least we’d both gotten a day out, car and I (an adventure if you will), even if it hadn’t been entirely the one I’d planned. I swapped the battery over, the guy chatting in a friendly fashion to me as I did (I’d even been asked if I needed a spanner, nice!), waiting to see me out of the yard; he too seemed somewhat… I don’t know a word… kind of amused in a baffled fashion, that the car had ended up being just towed there because of a flat battery, and how much it had ended up costing me… plus the back ache from carrying that battery… which btw, once installed, started the car. Phew!
The Fitbit says:
2 hours 31 minutes