It’s been a stressful few days. I’ve had to cancel, under difficult circumstances, a trip I was due to take in September to see friends, which has been very sad. Finances are increasingly worrying. Just the sort of day when life seems like crap every way you look and a trip to the shrink seems like a necessity, healing balm to the troubled mind, rather than a routine chore.
I get in the van. I reverse gently in order to get out of a tight parking space. Steering wheel pulled hard right-hand-down I gently move forward to sail out into the road. Only there’s a problem. The van is moving forward, but only very slowly. And what’s that in the rear-view mirror?
The problem is a really big problem. A problem the size of a four-by-four with an over-protruberant tow-bar. We were attached. Intimately. Where I go the four-by-four follows.
I tried everything. Edging forward at various angles and speeds in the hopes of ripping clear. Moving everything out of the back of the van and putting heavy things in the front to lift the back up. Hitting the bottom of the bumper with a hammer. Nothing worked. The last effort produced a small tinny clunk and a shower of rust but made absolutely no impression at all on the iron of the bumper.
I had an idea. Jack up the right-hand side of the van in the hopes that E (the lovely next-door-neighbour and owner of the extra-long tow-bar) could drive away from the van’s embrace. There was just one problem. I don’t have a jack and hers was in the back of her car. Which was inaccessible due to the proximity of a large and immovable van.
In the end I phoned the RAC. This was a slightly protracted process due to their whizzy computerised system which only foresaw a certain range of possible circumstances which could result in a call for their help. Van vaginismus was not among them, neither was tow-bar dysfunction. The unfortunate operator was deeply puzzled as to which category it might best be fitted. I suggested “flat tyre” might be the closest since the action required to solve the problem was similar, but with the added benefit of not needing to change the wheel.
Whatever category she eventually chose it had excellent results. Faster than a speeding bullet (well in about 20 minutes which is amazingly quick for such an entirely non-urgent matter) the delightful and ebullient Chris appeared with the ideal solution. Let E’s tyres down.
We chatted about social networking, E and I sitting in the sun on the wall at the front of the house, Chris from his deflating position prone on the pavement. He’s a globe-trotting kiwi and a keen user of facebook and was delighted at the prospect of my putting his picture there. “So much better for keeping in touch with all your friends when you’re travelling than sorting through a hotmail inbox crammed full of spam” he said.
Once I had rolled triumphantly out from the now flaccid embrace of the four-by-four he even produced a special hammer and bashed the bumps out of the bumper.
So thank you very much, Chris. For uncoupling the over-amourous vehicles, for another reason to enjoy facebook and for generally straightening things out. If only mental dents were as easily undinted.