Well I don't know about you but I had one heck of an adventure yesterday!
My stepdaughter was going to France for a week on work experience so I had agreed to drop her and her friend off at the meeting point. This meeting point was at a service station on the motorway. Her friend stayed the night to make it easier.
We don't own a car but we use Streetcar whenever we need a vehicle. Not everyone has heard of Streetcar yet, its basically a car hiring service, accept instead of going to some garage or depot to pick up your rental, the cars are kept on your local streets. You book the car on-line, then use your membership card to unlock the car at the time of your booking and enter a security code to get the keys out of the glove box. Its an excellent service and in our area we have many of these cars available. It works out much cheaper than owning your own car because you don't have to pay for petrol, insurance, road tax, MOT, maintenance etc. And we rarely actually have the need to use a car.
Any-hoo I booked my favourite car in advance and on the day woke the girls up bright and early at 4:30am. Majorly early for them, not so for me.
They both got ready bang on time and off we went to the neighbouring road where the car was. They had to drag their suitcases there, honestly, these girls are only going for a week, but the cases they both took were large enough for a family of four going for a week!
We get to the car, unlock it, get these huge cases in, get in the car ourselves and I start it, but it won't start! Hmmm, I keep trying, looking to see if the steering wheel was locked, tried popping the clutch but I knew you don't need to do that on a polo, only the golfs need that. Removed the key and tried it the other way, still no joy. I've used that exact car about a million-and-one times and its never given me any kind of grief. So I call Streetcar up and for some reason, can't get through. Great! I call my husband and he says, ok, leave it, lets call a cab. So I do. I book the cab while helping the girls unload their massive cases and we start walking back to the house.
We wait outside the house for the cab and my husband calls me, he says, why don't we book the other car available on the other neighbouring street. Excellent idea, plus it'll be much cheaper than the £52 I've just been quoted by the cabbie for a return journey! So my husbands at home on-line booking the other car while we make our way over to the other street, again, with those huge cases! As we're walking over I call the cabbie and tell him sorry, I have to cancel that car now. He sounds disappointed, £52 cab fare would have been great for him I guess!
We get to the car and before swiping my membership card on it, I call my husband to check if its booked now. He says its not! It won't let him book this car because we had the other car booked for this time also. Weird, because we're both members and we should be able to book two cars for the same time. He tries but its not working and we are fast running out of time to get the girls to the meeting point. We abandon this idea also and I call the cabbie back and say, sorry, I do need that cab after all! He says, "are you sure mam?" I say, yes, very sure, I need it right away please, I'm standing on so and so road, opposite, so and so building. I wasn't walking back to our house with those cases agian, did I mention they were big?
So we're waiting there for a cab and I can't believe what is happening. The one time you really need Streetcar to work, it fails you. How could this happen? I've used that polo countless times and its always been great. I look at the time and I'm thinking I hope this cabbie gets here fast. Then I get another call on my phone and its Streetcar. My husband got through to them and he's told them to call me. The lady at the other end is helpful and polite but right now I need results. She says she'll try and cancel the other booking and book the car that I'm standing in front of. I'm not happy about her wishy woshy tone and tell her I need to know now if you can make this happen, because I have a cab booked and its on its way now and I need to cancel now if you can book me this street car. She says, yes mam, I'm doing it now. She clicks a few buttons and asks me if the reader on the windscreen is flashing, I say no. Thinking great this isn't going to happen either! Then it starts flashing! Yay! She says swipe your card over it and it should unlock now. It does! Great. We get those big cases in the car while I call the cabbie back and tell him sorry, I don't need that car now. This time he is not happy. He says ok, and slams the phone down!
We get in the car, adjust the seat and mirrors and off we go. I tell the girls its 5:40am I'm going to drive fast so don't expect a comfy ride. They both say "kay" with anxiety in their tone. My heart feels for them. They've both been so looking forward to this and its an important part of the curriculum, not to mention the cost of this trip which is not cheap! Feeling the extra pressure of the responsibility of getting my step daughters friend there in time, I whizz off into the night praying I make it in time. We were supposed to be on the road by 5am!
I hand my step daughter the driving directions and tell her I will need her to read those out in a bit.
Praying to Allah that we make it in time.
I'm doing 50mph down a 30mph zone. I know, I never usually do this but its 5:40 ish am and the roads are clear. My husband tells my stepdaughter he'll call the group leader and tell them we've been delayed by the car trouble we had. He then calls us back and tells us the group leader will wait for us. Phew!
I get to the area I'm familiar with then ask her to start reading out the directions, she tells me them, ok, next roundabout 1st exit. We get to the roundabout after that and that roundabout, 2nd exit, 3rd roundabout 3rd exit, we're not far now and its only just gone 6am, deadline is 6:10am we'll make it insha"Allah. Next roundabout 2nd exit. Should be seeing the signs for it by now. Hang on a minute. This doesn't seems right to me. This place is far too residential. We're going to a service station at a roundabout on a major motorway. So I trust my instincts and turn back. Except that last roundabout isn't really showing me the signs I'm expecting to see. We head on anyway.
My phone rings, I tell my step daughter to answer it. Its the cabbie, he's waiting for us where I instructed, she tells him sorry but we canceled the cab. He's disappointed.
Soon I realize we took a wrong exit somewhere back there and we are not where we should be so I come off at the next motorway exit and head back.
Making dua along the way.
By this point my stepdaughters speaking to her dad on the phone and feeding him the information I'm giving her about our location. He's on the web again trying to determine our location from what I've told him, he's then feeding his daughter directions which she's feeding me while I do 120mph on the motorway. My step daughter calls the group leader and tells him we got lost but are making our way over there as quick as possible. He's really nice and says we'll wait for you, get here as quick as you can without taking any dangerous risks. You betchya!
Its 6:34am by now and I'm thinking about her friends mum and dad are counting on me to get their daughter there in time. God forbid if they leave without us not only will we lose all the money we've spent for this trip but her friends parents will lose all theirs too. Oh the pressure!
She calls her group leader and tells him we're about 10 minutes away, or so I think.
We finally get to a major roundabout and from there I get the motorway I *do* need. We head down there as fast as I can make it but this motorway is busier and the suns up now and we're heading east so the sun is blindly me and even with sunglasses on its very had to see the road.
At one point the sun is blindly me so much that as I over take a blue van I feel I'm too close to him so I slightly adjust our possition only to make the adjustment too far and I feel the tyres on the right bump over the cats eyes, so I move more to the left to compensate and then that's a little too much and then back to the right again. Really don't need this kind of swaying drama at this sort of speed.
We're finally one exit away on the motorway so I move into the lanes on the left one by one and get ready to come off. We come off the motorway and she calls her group leader again and tells him we're at the roundabout for the service station now. Yay, not too far now.
We take the second exit from the roundabout and head towards the service station, there's a big land rover in front of me and judging by how slow he's going it must be an old woman driving it! Urhhh, get out the way! I scream in my mind. I need to look for the coach car park but because this huge car is in the way I can't see the sign and go right when I should have gone left. I see several coaches parked further down on my left, where I should be and turn around in the car park to see if I can make it back there to where the coaches are but there isn't an exit. So I park as close the coaches as I can and say we can walk over. As I get out of the car I see 3 men coming our way and I'm sure they're the group leader and some helpers.
I apologize to the group leader and he is so nice and says, "don't worry, you're here now".
I look at the time, its 6:46am!
We open up the boot and he gasps when he sees the cases! "You're only gong for a week!" he says.
I hug and kiss the girls goodbye and off they go. The group leader and 2 helpers helping them with their luggage. I stand there for a moment watching their luggage being loaded into the coach and girls boarding it, handing the group leader their papers. Alhamdolilah! I call my husband and relay this image to him. He laughs and tells me well done. Hmmm, not sure about that. He's extended the booking for me so I have more than enough time to get the car back.
I come home and the journey on the way back was so quick. Less than 25 minutes and I was driving slowly. I don't know where it all went wrong. I had a cup of tea and got back into bed for bit but every time I closed my eyes, all I could see were my hands on the steering wheel, speeding down the motorway.
I text my step daughter and she's laughing about it now. Thanking me for getting them there and staying calm. The rest of their journey is easy and uneventful and they get to their destination on time as scheduled. Alhamdolilah. The organizers clearly are experienced and left ample time in their scheduling for such delays. God bless 'em.
Its a morning I will never forget! Lol.