Monday, 8 December 2008

Thank Goodness for the RAC

In twenty-odd years of driving, I have never broken down. Until last Sunday night, on the A42, on a wet and freezing cold winter's night.

The Golf had made a squeaking noise for a few days, but I put it down to the damp weather, and made a mental note to get it booked in.

I'd met a friend at the NEC for an enjoyable day out an exhibition, and we'd travelled there separately. "Safe driving" she shouted as we parted in the pouring rain at North 2 car park, and indeed all was fine until about 15 minutes later, trying to find my way onto the M42, when the computer screen flashed "Warning - Alternator". There was nowhere to stop, I didn't know where I was, and something awful had happened to the steering - I could hardly steer the car. I kept going, fighting to steer and got onto the M42. After a few more miles, arms exhausted, mouth dry, and lights getting dimmer, every light on the dashboard came on, the wipers stopped and that was it. Hard shoulder for me.

I'd got the RAC's phone number in my mobile phone, which WAS fully charged up (I was a Girl Guide and their motto "Be Prepared" has always stuck with me) and I'd got plenty of warm waterproof clothing. But this was my first experience of a breakdown and I didn't really know what to do.

The gentleman at the RAC breakdown centre was brilliant. I'd to walk carefully to the nearest white marker post and give him the number. Someone would be with me within 30 minutes and the Highway Patrol would be alerted as well. I was put through to a recording which told me how to stay safe in the interim. I had to get out of the car and find somewhere safe to wait. Pretty difficult on the A42.

Within 10 minutes I saw the orange lights of the breakdown vehicle and the friendly RAC man soon assessed the problem and fitted a temporary battery. "I need you to drive to Measham Services, where we'll load you onto the trailer and tow you home. Build your speed to 50 mph on the hard shoulder then pull out. Your power steering has gone, but you should be OK. I'll stay behind and protect you. Stop at any time if you need to". OK, I'll give it a go I thought, but I'll never, ever, take power steering for granted again.

At Measham, a magic trailer appeared out of the back of the breakdown van, the Golf was loaded and off we set for home. During the 2 hour delay on the A42 due to accidents, I heard all about what it's like being a breakdown man and some amazing tales of other people's breakdowns. Fascinating. In response to my question "What on earth makes someone want to do this job on a night like this???" the response was "I love it - I absolutely love it!" - and I believed him.

The next day, I had to get the car to the VW garage, and was advised to ring the RAC for an onward tow. Not only that, they also took me to work afterwards. How good is that? The garage diagnosed a broken alternator pulley, which was quickly repaired at a reasonable cost.

We see the AA and RAC trucks on the roads regularly, but never stop to think about what an incredible service these individuals offer at a very vulnerable and frightening time. So thank you Steve and Brad for your help, humour. patience and amusing stories. And thank you RAC for such a brilliant service. I'll never grumble about the price of renewal ever again.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Used Caravans said...

Your absolutely right, people just don't give the breakdown services the respect they deserve. The last accident I was in was on the M62, I rang the AA and they where there before the police turned up!

24 March 2009 at 09:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great information! I would not have discovered this otherwise!

15 February 2011 at 12:15  

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