Blog DOB: 12 Mar, 2013
Name: mu su
Today I had the joy of having to sit behind an eejit in a Volvo S40 on the A3 who continued driving in the fast lane even though there were no other cars to overtake. There were distances of up to half a mile between cars in the middle lane, ample room to pull in, but he didn't. He was obviously one of the soft heads who thinks his rightful position is in the fast lane, at the top of the Q.
I had a few options
I am not a fan of either of these options, and was stupid enough to think common sense might prevail. The bonehead would look in his rear view mirror and make way. But being bereft of common sense he didn't do that and I should have undertaken him.
This is the same type of eejit that comes off a slip road and makes an immediate beeline for the fast lane even though their acceleration is never going to match the speed of existing traffic. And the type of eejit who waits until the very last moment to try and cut across lanes to make it to the exit, applying their brakes suddenly, usually in both fast and middle lanes in their hurry to get off in time.
As I get the overland and Jubliee line to Canary Wharf my car is ordinarily
curled up asleep on the driveway. Last week, in a hurry to get to Gatwick,
I jump in, turn the ignition. Nothing happens. A moment of panic. No jump
leads. AA home start cancelled several years earlier. I get out, push open the
front door, sift through the cumulative letter box junk. Eureka. A business card
for a taxi company. I can't press the digits on the keypad fast enough.
"I need a car to Gatwick please"
"What time do you need it for?"
"Now", I blurt out.
The weekend passes, back in the train reading Mr China ("The incredible story of a Wall Street banker who went to China with four hundred million dollars and learned the hard way that China doesn't play by Western rules"). One night, after work, still in the office, gazing out of the 23rd floor I remember, and call the AA from my mobile.
A recorded voice advises me I am in a queue. I may be holding for five minutes. Did I want to call back at another time? I hold. I hold for ten minutes. The same AA adverts replay and replay and replay, without interruption, before someone finally speaks.
I quote my membership number and enquire,
"My car needs a restart at home. I don't have the home start option on my membership. I wonder if it's possible to add it, and have a a call out at some stage tomorrow?"
"You can add home start and that will be valid up until your renewal next year", he responded, quoting me the full price, even though my renewal would be two weeks earlier (i.e. pay the full price for fifty weeks rather than fifty two - 3.8% bonus for the AA) He continues confidently "You would have to pay a surcharge for your call out tomorrow. The total price including your membership upgrade would be £89".
I hesitated. Home start is Â£44. The surcharge is Â£45. I paid the home start sub. for many years, never using it. Cancelled it in the end as it just seemed a waste of money. Somehow I actually feel as if I am being ripped off, not just because of the two weeks but the fact it just didn't seem right after being a customer for eight years.
"I'll leave it" I answered, already thinking about the RAC
for next year.
"Is there anything else I can help you with?"
In the morning I go to Maplins and buy a portable car charger for just under £40. If I had planned better I could have bought one on the internet for £20.
There must be a psychological barrier to people using the slow lane. This is why we end up with slow moving traffic in the fast and middle lanes while the slow lane is empty. We do not see either ourselves or our automobiles as the "type" of vehicle which belong in the slow lane. We do not fit or want to fit the profile of users of this lane so will automatically take position in the middle lane, or worse, accelerate straight into the fast lane, irrespective of the risks. We see it as our rightful position. Who really wants to be branded a "slow lane" driver?
Spending approximately thirty to forty days a year just sitting in commuter traffic I've had time to think about it's psychology. I've also wondered, during this time, whether our cave dwelling ancestors were not in some ways better off. What is our quality of life?
With parking spaces not getting any wider and more and more people driving the equivalent of armoured personnel carriers is it any wonder our cars are being scratched to bits when there isn't even enough room to open your door to get in.
I had taken to parking in the remotest corners of any car park and, if it was a multi story, going straight to the top floor, thereby minimising the risk of damage to the car, including all the hit and run bumper scrapes you find, each one, as if adding to your disillusion about humanity.
Parking further away I would get more exercise. This seemed to be the last thing on anyone's mind when looking for a parking space. The objective is to park as close as possible to the destination, even if, for some, it means parking in a disabled spot. When challenged, can you believe someone would shrug "sure, there'll be none of them around this time of the night".
Parking at a distance brings a new wonder. How is it I can park remotely, yet, when I return to my car, I find a cluster of other cars parked around it, as if to form an island? Yet again, on a visit to Tesco, i park in the remote corner, plenty of empty spaces beside me, and lots between me and the entrance.
Why then would someone pull up, so close, that I can't properly open my door?
I look at the space between our cars, I look around at all the empty spaces......