Cheating Death and other tales
In fact, the title is a lie. There are no other tales here, this story is true, and it is almost exclusively about cars and cheating death.
I went to south yorkshire to have some small servicing done on my car (ah, the irony), and was going to go see Jon, a friend, about a web site afterwards. Around one o clock the car was fixed, and I set off for Hull. I was driving along merrily, more or less within the speed limits, and there was a fair amount of traffic on the road.
Jon called me, and I took the phone (long live bluetooth hand-free kits). "I will be there soon", "good, see you in a few". Phone conversation over. About three minutes later, I was overtaking a few trailers, when - out of the blue - someone pulls out in front of me.
Fair enough. I brake a little, to allow the fellow to get up to speed. Suddenly he (or she, but not wanting to be discriminating to female drivers, I will keep this on a "he") stands on the brakes for no reason in the world whatsoever. So I have to stand on my brakes as well.
All four wheels lock up, but it appears that my left front brake is an itty bit more effective than the other ones, and my car starts sliding - the tail continues forward, and the front is turning to my left. Before I know it, I am actually across both roads (luckily this was a dual carriageway. Had it been a two-way road, this story might have been quite different, and chances are it would not have been up to me to tell). Next thing I know, I have done a 180 - the back of the car pointing in the direction I was supposed to be going.
All I could see in front of me was a massive container trailer, who was standing on the brakes. He slammed into the front of my mini (It is a precious little thing indeed, a 1990 Rover Mini Cooper), sending it (and me) on the continuation of the circular motion - and suddenly I was facing the right way again. Except this time I was not moving, and there was adrenaline everywhere. My car was neatly parked on the side of the curb, I switched my engine off (still running? My, those minis can take a punch, I thought) and got out of the car.
As did the trailer chauffeur, who was convinced he had killed me outright.
We stared at each other for a bit, confirming neither of us had any limbs missing, and marveled at the fact that his trailer didn't have as much as a scratch. You know, in stories like mine, you always hear "not a scratch", but this time, it was literal: Not a single dent or scratch in his semi.
The trailer driver (Paul) asks if my car still drives, and if it would be possible to drive to a lay-by, so we would be in less danger. Looking at the state of my poor, poor mini (and crying in frustration and anger and shock and horror, by now) I doubted it, but after checking for fluid leaks, I started her up. Sounded a bit odd, but I managed to drive her to the lay-by.
Before we knew it, the police arrived, and made sure we were both okay. We had a breathalyzer test, just to make sure that neither of us had drunk anything (we were both okay, but I was starting to feel the need for a stiff drink, to be honest). I was quite happy to do the breathalyzer test - in fact, I was quite elated about breathing at all, at this point. I told the police officer, and he grinned in such a way that made me realise he had probably heard that one a hundred times before. So much for original comedy in the face of hardship.
Paul and myself exchanged address details, and I asked him about his version of the story - what happened? Paul basically confirmed everything else I've said, and added that the car that I had to brake for was blue. Not terribly useful, because I would have needed his licence plate number in order to call the police (fleeing the scene of an accident, or something like that.)
We continued on to inspecting his truck, only to not find a single blemish whatsoever. On closer inspection, my mini was in a lot better shape than I had worried about as well (some bent metal) - but I also noticed the distributor cap was smashed. As such, I believe I must have been running on three cylinders. Other than that - no real problem: The truck was so high up that my pretty chrome bumper was unscratched, and it hit me square in the middle, so even both my lights survived the crash - only the bonnet and the centre front were dented.
I thanked Paul profusely for not killing me (although if he had, there wouldn't have been anything he could have done about it, but he laughed, and we were all relieved), and shook hands - which was when I discovered blood on my hand. I checked everywhere, but eventually realised that it was my hand that was bleeding, and only from a tiny little cut. Paul had plasters, Haje was happy again.
Paul took off, and I drove (veeeryyyy slooowllyyyy) to the nearest exit off the dual carriageway, just to get the car off the road. Then I saw a Halfords car parts store, and thought, "Hmm, perhaps they sell distributor caps". No luck, though, and so I crawled the car to Jon's house.
Here, I took the front part of the car apart, and - still - as far as I can tell, it is only the distributor cap that is broken. And the grille and bonnet, of course.
Most importantly, though, I am sitting here, writing this, and feeling remarkably lucky about being able to do so without doing a detour to the nearest hospital.
This whole thing has, as a whole, failed to make a great impression on me, I'm afraid - not in the literal sense (thank heavens for that), nor figuratively. I would love to have a chat with the fellow who pulled out in front of me, though. He must have seen me (and heard it, not least) spinning and crashing into that semi-trailer. I wonder why he didn't at least stop to make sure I wasn't dead. And I am very curious what story he will be telling his friends and family right about now. I guess I will never know.
<a few hours later>
My mini was towed to Elloughton by a friendly towtruck guy. Elloughton is where Katherine's parents live, and her dad knows a good mecanic who "can work on a mini blindfolded". That I would like to see, but I don't doubt he can get it running again, which is good news, I guess. After my car was rescued, and Katherine's dad had fed me my much-longed-for units of alcohol, Kath (who had driven from her work in Manchester in order to come pick me up) drove me back home in her cold (heater is broken) but much better-running car. (well, at least at the moment. Just you wait.)
Well, thank you all for reading this far. I just kind of had to get it off my chest.
Take care - and drive carefully!
Lots of love,
A slightly shocked, but otherwise perfectly fine, Haje