A year ago today, this image was posted to my Facebook timeline with the quote ‘My life right now’:

Yesterday, the car broke down on the motorway. Traveling at 70 in lane 3 I get a warning light pop up, next the car cuts out… at 70. Scary times. I wrestle the car back towards the hard shoulder and it restarts. I drive for another 100 metres or so and I get the warning light and constant beeps. “STOP: Oil Pressure Too Low”. I had to pull on to the hard shoulder again and stop for good.

My first call was to work, which is where I was on my way to. For an appointment for Physiotherapy. The first department I got through to was really, really unhelpful. After explaining that I had broken down on the motorway and I wouldn’t be able to make the appointment as planned today, I was asked by Rachel “Ok what time will you make it in?” – Bemused I again explained that I had broken down and that I did not think I would make it in to work today at all. She must have thought it was just an excuse not to turn up as her response to my reply to her own question was “well we cant do anything to help you with your breakdown”. – I know that Rachael, thanks! I don’t believe I was asking you to assist me with my breakdown. (Rachael also seemed to be ‘put out’ by having to wait while I searched the car (on the hard shoulder) for a pen to take down a number). Perhaps Rachael was having a bad day too? In stark contrast, the second person I spoke to from Team Prevent, in the Physiotherapy department could not have been nicer, kinder or more supportive.

Unfortunately after all of my running around to ensure my fitness for work was covered last week has gone to pot because not attending the Physiotherapy session will result in a no-show being recorded. Which was last time I was in work considered a 3 point strike. – Fantastic.

Back to the car… So the next people I called were the RAC. I must admit I thought I waited a fair while on the phone, on hold before an operator picked up. I explained the situation and my case was logged as a priority due to the dangerous position I was in on the motorway. They wasn’t sure where I was. I wasn’t sure where I was, but I know where I’d come from, and where I was heading to. So I would have thought that might have been enough for them to look at a map and have a rough idea as to where I was located. – Or perhaps have used the location of my mobile phone to find me. – I am sure that in the past it’s been done that way. Have we taken a step backwards or something?

I was asked to get out of the car and walk on the hard shoulder either with my back to traffic or walking towards traffic to find the nearest marker post. Once I read out the numbers on the post, they were still not sure where I was. Two and a half hours later, after being advised not to get back into the car, but to stand on the hard shoulder (behind the barrier) [there was no barrier], I get a phone call from the RAC saying that a patrol is in the area dealing with another customer. Once they are done they will call me. I should expect it to be another 45 minutes. Around 45 minutes more of standing in the cold wind, I got a call from the patrol.

Long story short, patrol arrived and had a brief look at the car. Couldn’t see any visible issue and so towed me to a safer place to take a look. Still no visible problems and so we went for a drive. The car started to make the same noises and the same error message displayed for the RAC patrol to see. The car’s error sensor was read and no errors were coming off the car. Therefore all the RAC guy could do would be to tow me to a garage. Unbeknown to me, they can only tow me 10 miles otherwise I would be charged. – I was 17 miles from home. So I was towed to a garage unknown to me in the middle of nowhere. The car was dropped off to a mechanic who had no idea we were on our way. I was told it could be Friday before they can even look at the car. Fantastic.

From there I had to find my way back home. So with just £5 in cash on me I got a lift to Runcorn Station from the RAC patrol, paid £3.20 for a single train ticket to travel one stop to South Parkway in Liverpool, then hunted down a cash machine, got cash, bought a drink and asked for some change for the bus, got on a bus and got home about 4:30pm. I’d left the house at 12 noon for a 1:30pm appointment. I broke down around 1pm. All in all my journey home cost me £5.30 (so 30p more than I had in cash, hence needing the cash machine), and took me 4.5 hours give or take. – I swear those 25 minutes I waited for the train, and then the 10 minutes (if that) I was on the train for where the most relaxing minutes of the day. There was simply no stress about it whatsoever.

Irony is strong with this one… This morning before I left the house, my sticker for the Bridge toll discount arrived. So fitted that to the car. Ironically if I drive over the bridge now, I’ll be in another car for a while, therefore I’ll have to pay the toll… I just start to get my head around and prepare my foot for an attempt to return to work and the car breaks down… I get arrangements in place in terms of fitnotes so that I don’t get no-call no-show points, and get points for missing a physio appointment… I start to think about money situations improving (slightly) to the point where I can consider items that will improve my life (slightly) and I am slapped back down to earth with a breakdown to sort out. – How dare I even think about making things better. This is what I get.

The repair will cost money, a hire car for the time the car is away will cost money, crossing the bridge will cost money, fuel in the car will cost money… and yet again the year starts of.. badly.

and that’s only half of the story of this week . . . We wont talk about the stupidity of people and how that stupidity puts others at risk. We wont talk about the childish behaviour that has serious detrimental effects on the health of others. We wont talk about there being a distinct lack of respect at all. We won’t talk about the gaping hole of aloneness either.

So to finish for now, Rachael… Have a bit of patience and compassion when you are speaking to people on the telephone.. If you look at it, that’s probably somewhere in your job description.