What a breakdown in rush hour will do for you

I don’t believe in bad luck.
I don’t enjoy, although I am no stranger to, a pity party.
Bad things have to happen in order for us to experience good and without the bad days, there wouldn’t be the good ones.

When I found my cars wing mirror torn off from its hinges this morning, I don’t believe it’s down to luck. Or lack of it. Looking at this blatant act of careless vandalism I just couldn’t help but think ‘why?’. What has damaging my car done to help you? What have you got out of it?

person's leg resting on vehicle window

Now, it could be a group that didn’t have anything to kick around at the park and saw a strange opportunity. It could be someone who gets a kick out of damaging other peoples things… I have made the decision that doesn’t actually matter, it would be nice if it’s it’s a person with limited disposable income and a broken Clio that needs a right wing mirror. I hope the wing mirror solves a problem for you, I hope your day is better knowing you’ve got one now.

Although I try my hardest to practice the art of non-attachment, I find myself oddly attached to my car. Let me start by explaining that I have an extremely basic, run around. Bought in a rush at the age of 17 once I’d just about, miraculously passed my driving test. There was no educated decision making when it came to choosing which car, I just went with my favourite colour in my price range. I don’t fall into the materialistic category enough to care and I certainly don’t ‘speak car’. Meaning if you tell me you’ve just bought an Audi Q7 outright, good for you but you may as well be speaking Mandarin. I know Minis are small and I know Land Rovers are big and that’s about it.

I do not place value on flashy, expensive things I hold preference to the things that have and will enable me to become rich in experiences. This is why, I think, I have so much attachment to my car. Growing up in a village on the peninsular of Essex (think more marshes and less TOWIE), I had very little freedom and ability to go anywhere without being driven. No, buses were few are far between, one entering and leaving the village once a day if you’re lucky.

The minute I had my car I had all the freedom in the world, the best social life and life was bloody fantastic.

Fast forward a few years and I work outside of the UK for 8-10 months of the year, meaning for the rest of the time I move back home and I need my car to be up and running, fit as a fiddle for 8 weeks in order for me to not go clinically insane.

Upon arrival home this year, little Clio needed a bit more TLC to get back on the road, costing a hefty sum, nearing a four-figure payout and leaving me feeling slightly sorry for myself.

Not long after, it wasn’t until I was driving to a Health Club, to deliver a workshop that I had this strange thought…

‘What the hell is a tractor doing coming off the M25?!’

Looking around to pinpoint this noise, mortified to find out it was me, my car, replicating the sound effects of somewhere between a boy racer and combine harvester.

That’s right, my exhaust decided to blow while I was cruising the fast lane of the M25. I wish my anecdote could end here, but I am not yet finished.

Finally making my way off the motorway and into the town I needed to stop off at, turning heads of the locals for all the wrong reasons as they stared open-mouthed at my state of a vehicle. I parked quickly on the side of the high street to pick up some printing. Getting increasingly busy as we approached rush hour, hazard lights left on as I knew I would only be 5 minutes. In and out.

Just to paint the picture a little clearer, envision this busy twilight evening and queue heavy rain. Primetime, thank you. Talk about pathetic fallacy at its best.

cars on road

As I get back into my car, sodden, keys slot into the ignition and I turn the key. Once, twice, third time. Nothing. My battery had died. Check in the boot, of course, no jump leads.

No jump leads, no breakdown cover, 100 miles from home and to top it off there’s torrential rain. Drivers behind me start to beep, flash and yell understandably as I was blocking the road. In this ridiculous moment of despair, not being able to see any logical solution and knowing I was going to miss my workshop, I started to cry.

Running in and out of all the shops on the high street, asking if anyone had jump leads and if anyone could help. The strangers took one look at my desperate self and shook their heads. The traffic on the road was escalating and my car was single-handedly causing a bumper to bumper pile up.

My literal light at the end of the tunnel was a little shop adjacent to my abandoned car. In an attempt to compose myself, I took deep breaths and walked in, praying for some jump leads. The two women looked at me… and talk about the perfect people to run into.

One of the women was and we’ll call her quite rightly the ‘Car Fairy’. The Car Fairy, had previously worked in a garage, had amazing knowledge of cars and she – definitely – ‘spoke car’. No jump leads? No problem. Together with the other kind women, we stood out in the road, blocking oncoming traffic to free some space on the road. The heroes in the shop next door agreed to push my car up the road and the Car Fairy single-handedly attempted to perform a manual jump start.

I’ve had my fair share of car trouble, meaning I’ve seen many people try and fail to do this in the past so I wasn’t hopeful. Call it a miracle, call her a genius but just before the traffic light T junction turned red, Clio roared to life and the whole high street cheered as the exhaust boomed away down the road.

As she pulled back around she told me,

‘Quick, jump in, it’s about to go again, I’ve got to keep the revs high. I’ll take you to a garage!’

The Car Fairy was beyond lovely in every way and even offered me a place to stay for the night while I waited for the part to arrive and my car to be fixed the following day.

Another couple of hundred pounds lighter, as I drove back home late the next day, I saw a fellow Clio stranded on the hard shoulder with a AA man close by. It got me thinking, even in times where you’ve struggled, things could be so much worse. The kindness of strangers can completely surprise and lift you. It’s amazing that even in what I’d categories as a ‘bad day’ the universe can put you in the pathway of such wonderful human beings, that make you feel truly grateful. It really did make me realise that even my bad days, aren’t that bad at all and they could be a hella lot worse. For that, I’ll always be grateful.

When I think back to that fun, exciting day, what really gets me is the question the Car Fairy asked me. Once I’d stumbled in, trying but failing to hold it together, they gave me a towel to dry off and were making me a cup of tea. Getting enough words out through broken sobs, to hold a conversation, while they tried to calm me down and think of a way to help me, the Car Fairy asked…

‘What are you doing all this way from home then, sweetheart?’

I had answered honestly and factually because my dishevelled self didn’t think to do anything else

‘I am here to deliver a workshop on stress management.’

Stress management.
Believe it or not I was there to coach people on how to deal with and manage stress.

At this point, we all broke into uncontrollable laughter at the irony.

You can’t alleviate stress from your lives entirely but you can learn coping strategies and if you can’t apply those strategies every time, a least you look back and laugh about it at a later date.

Yes, there is bad but there will always be good. Things will be hard but without it, you wouldn’t appreciate the easy. It’s your ups and downs, yin and yang, sugar spice and all thing nice.

Stay positive, stay groovy

  • And I hope you found a good use for my wing mirror you bastard

All things love light and laughter
Jas x

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