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Friday, September 12, 2008

One of the constant joys of my life is the regular contact I have with AA men. My social life wouldn't be half as interesting if I had a reliable car. It's barely two weeks since I listened to death metal in the Lidl car park with a bloke from Eastern Europe, but I've already had the chance to meet someone new. And for the fourth time in a year, it was a very nice man.

So there I was, reversing uphill into a parking space outside the pharmacy stores at thirty-seconds-to-nine this morning, when my car stalled. And wouldn't restart. It's done this before, and like a brattish child, if you ignore it for five minutes, it tends to get bored, give up, and agree to start. So I ran indoors and asked my boss to help me push it onto the naughty step.

We returned one minute later to find that (a) someone had taken my parking space, and (b) the owner of the car in front had emerged from the hospital needing to leave urgently, and found a blue Skoda broken down at her rear bumper, totally blocking her exit.

The next ten minutes are a bit of a blur, but I do remember that in a feat of superhuman strength, my boss and I somehow managed to push my car up a hill without losing our footing and getting run over, while the unknown woman got herself into a state, forgot how to drive, and ended up having to ask us to move her car out of the car park for her. I felt a bit guilty. If she wasn't at the hospital for her nerves, she certainly will be after this.

Anyhoo, despite trying the ignition at regular intervals throughout the morning, it never did start, so at 12:15 I rang the AA, and with perfect timing, they arrived five minutes before my lunch break. I have to say, of all the many AA men I've met, this one was definitely my favourite. We spent a good twenty minutes chatting about babies and the joys of raising girls, and as a bonus he even fixed my car. The problem turned out to be a blown fuse. But not the same fuse that blew last year for no reson. It makes you wonder wy.

As it turned out though, this AA man did a lot more than fix my car. He restored my sanity. For the past six months, my Skoda's been making a slight rasping, rattling noise every time I accelerate, but as luck would have it, no one else in the world seems to be able to hear it. It's been examined by friends, relatives, and even a mechanic, but everyone seems to think I'm making it up.

Today, however, in his search for the cause of my dodgy ignition, the AA man happened to notice that my oxygen sensor was loose. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know I had an oxygen sensor. So having replaced my fuse, started my car, and bonded over baby chat, he offered to fix that as well. A few turns of a spanner, and I drove home for lunch - minus the rattling noise I've lived with since March. My engine's now purring like a kitten, and sounding better than it has for years. I should probably sell the thing before it breaks down again.