Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Breaking Down, Freaking Out

Eeeeesh. Whenever something goes wrong with one of my parents’ cars, it’s always me that’s driving it. Usually it’s fairly small scale, like a blown tire or a lost hub cap, which is pretty easy to get sorted (although I still get it in the ear off mum sometimes). Today however, it was slightly higher on the old calamitous jalopy scale: a mysterious engine fault which has left the car out of action (I’m hoping the mystery has nothing to do with me having driven it at shockingly irresponsible speeds earlier on).

I was out in the middle of nowhere when I noticed the car was losing some of its grunt, and then a light I’d never seen before flashed up on the dashboard. Although it didn’t seem too major, I thought it best to pull over and phone my Dad, as he Knows Things. So I pulled over, and we agreed he should come out and meet me to escort me home lest it died on me completely. I figured I’d have about 20 minutes or so to wait for him, so I got out of the car to stretch my legs and as I did so I glanced over my shoulder, and caught sight of this weird looking guy about 20 metres down the road peering round some trees at me. He was a creepy looking fella – scruffy, about 40, with a moustache and wearing tatty camouflage gear - and bearing in mind I was a good 8 miles from the nearest town and 3 miles from the nearest village it was a bit weird. My feelings of weirdness were not helped by the fact that when he realised I’d seen him, he ducked back into the trees. A number of muddled thoughts were running through my mind - “Please don’t let him have a hammer!” “Thank God I’m not a woman” “Maybe he likes men...?” “If he comes over and is a mentalist do I lock myself in the car or run down the road?” “Should I stare over there so he knows I’ve seen him or should I pretend I didn’t notice him?” “Do I try and start the car and drive off a bit further, or might the desperate revving make him realise I’m stuck here?” – and I got in the car and watched him in my rearview mirror creeping around in an unsettling way sort of stalking the car until my Dad arrived. Upon which the mentalist looked a bit put out, and slunk down the road in the opposite direction.

So anyway, the car did die completely as Dad escorted me home. The AA were called and duly arrived and I learnt some stuff. Now, I’m very non-technical and so was very surprised when the AA man got into the passenger seat with a smart looking laptop and plugged it into some hole I never knew existed and ‘analysed’ the car’s engine. He told me that some electronics in my car had detected a fault with the engine, and therefore caused the engine to cut out so it didn’t get damaged.
“Huh? So, there’s a computer in the car which can override me…. like Kit?”

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