|STORYTIME: Help! Stranded on the hardshoulder|


I’m a good driver, I promise!

Now before I delve into my recent car incident, I’d like to state that I am a decent driver… Honestly!

People who know me personally are terrified to sit in my car as they identify the skill of my driving with my clumsy demeanour. To an extent, this is true: I am accident-prone without the active intention to be so (example of this can be read here)

Without further ado, let’s get into my recent tragedy.

I’d spent a lovely weekend near Bath. To elongate my stay, I’d made the conscious decision to stay an extra night and to return to London on Monday late morning prior to work.

I mean, taking all things into account, it would benefit me in many ways:

  • I’d be refreshed to drive back home on a Monday morning rather than a Sunday evening
  • There’d be far less cars
  • I wouldn’t have to face the Sunday evening weekend-blues drive home
  • It’d be light out during my almost 3 hour trip behind the wheel
  • The M3 route back to London looks far more beautiful during the day than night!

Little did I know that despite having less cars on the road, the drivers on the motorway during the off-peak period are far more reckless. I admit, I can be a slightly hasty and hot-headed driver from time to time — in the sense that I would make the extra effort to slow down for a split second while undertaking a car only to make the driver aware of my annoyance of their ridiculously slow speed in the fast lane.

So, let’s get back into the topic of things! What was supposed to have been an easy 2.5hours drive back to my house turned into an almost 4 hour trip filled with disruption, distress, and a deep hole in my bank account! 

Considering the beautiful weather, I chose to take the scenic M3 route to follow the obligatory ‘slow down and stare’ journey past National Trust’s very own Stonehenge. Now, the route is as follows: take the M3, exit to join the M25, exit the motorway for good and drive for an extra 10-20 minutes to get back home.

Unfortunately for me, I was 10-20 minutes away from home before my front right tire burst… consequently, forcing me to roll up to the hard shoulder just off the M25 with nothing but a very scared Huewinn Chan.

The M25 exit led onto a standard large roundabout filled with a jumble of lanes and traffic lights to enforce structure to the place. Having said that, despite this, idiotic drivers like the white van next to me, often overlook the ‘STAY IN LANE’ signs and the red-amber-green light show.

plan view2

The amber-turning-red light signalled me to come to a rolling stop in the outer lane position. However, the butch white van in the middle lane to my left chose to disobey and drove faster to avoid having to stop at the red light. In doing so, he’d forced his way into my lane in hopes to overtake the car in front of him (who’d also breezed by the signalling-to-stop lights, but let’s not delve into his case).  My instinct reaction was to avoid the car and stop it from bashing into me, so the swerve turned into a roll and jolt up the kerb and back down again; all to which led to a burst in the front tire and a ‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO’ moment! I rolled out of the roundabout to the best of my ability and pulled up to the hard shoulder to calm my nerves and slap myself to get a grip! I was supposed to be going to work in 2 hours!

I’d popped out of the car to check for the damage…
…so what do I do now?

Calling AA was of no help, calling my family members were of no help! So who do I call?! After much deliberation, research on different sites, and a newfound understanding of how useless I was, I’d called the RAC for help. Much to my dismay, turns out that the RAC only tows your car from point A to point B… which meant that even if I was taken off the hard shoulder, the car wouldn’t have been of much use unless the tyre had been changed.

As soon as Martin (the tow driver) arrived, he noticed how obviously distressed I was and guided me through my next steps. With his sturdy tow truck, he’d hoisted my hunk-of-junk onto his hunk-of-junk and drove the Suzuki Swift and I to tyre replacement centres. I’d openly stated that I wasn’t very confident getting back on the road post-tyre operation, and had requested a centre much closer to home; Martin had reluctantly agreed and off we went!

It had taken a few trips across different tyre changing centres before we could find a supplier with a decent price. I’d forced Martin to take the commanding role, seeing as I’m a dunce when it comes to cars (not to mention the different types and parts needed to go into the car!).

“What tyre type do you need?” the supplier asked.
I don’t know!? I thought all tyres were the same! They sure as hell all look the same!

What?! This is all news to me!

We tried our luck with a final centre after Kwik-Fit quoted a price of £135?! – for a tyre! I rang the final store prior to setting off and forced the phone onto Martin to deal with, and with a stern and steady voice, he had dealt with the pricing and arrangements. We spent the following 20 minutes driving up and down and round and around the street to locate the store – only to realise that it had been almost opposite the truck all along… Nonetheless, it was insightful to see how well Martin could manoeuvre his ride in narrow streets and bends without a flicker of expression (in comparison to my puppy with a chew bone face!)

When we had finally found the centre, I’d bid Martin (and the money in my bank account) goodbye and thanked him for his help and therapy!

I was then greeted by the mechanic and owner, who’d quickly changed my tyre and swiped my debit card for another hole in my bank account… ouch! Before leaving, he’d mentioned the crack on my front bumper, and had questioned whether it was due to the incident earlier on. I replied with a soft ‘no….’ and explained it was from something else… But that’s another story for another day!

Suzuki Swift was and is fine, and it’s safe to say that I was late to work by 2 hours.



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