Yesterday I spent an hour sitting on the hard shoulder of the M1.
No, I hadn’t stopped for a picnic and I haven’t taken up lorry spotting, I was sitting there waiting for a knight in shining armour to come and rescue me. Unfortunately, as I was driving back to London from a meeting in Nottingham, one of my tyres had completely blown. Thankfully though my lovely Mini had already warned me that there was a problem with the air pressure in a tyre, so when I felt the car shake and start making strange noises, I moved to the inside lane and cut my speed dramatically.
Because of that warning, when the tyre blew I wasn’t doing my usual rather fast speed in the outside lane, (though clearly not above 70mph officer as that would be illegal!) but was only doing about 50mph in the inside lane.
Nonetheless, it was still very scary when bits of my tyre flew up around the car and I clunked over to the hard shoulder. Of course the first thing to do was to ring the AA, and it was during that conversation that I did a slightly unforgiveable thing - I played on the fact that I was a woman.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equality, but when sitting on the side of a 6 lane motorway, while hundreds of vehicles sped past me, I knew I had to play the ‘I’m a woman on my own and feeling very vulnerable’ card. And thankfully it worked, I was noted as a priority and told that someone would be there as soon as possible. (Actually I think the AA would’ve made me a priority anyway as they’re very nice people).
Is it wrong to play the female card in times of need? Please don’t hate me, but I really don’t think so. Whether it’s to get served quicker at the bar, to try and get a better service at the garage or to get a speedy recovery vehicle when in times of need, I do feel that sometimes using your womanly wiles is perfectly acceptable. Anyhow, I digress, back to the M1.
I was told by the recovery garage that as it was rush hour, and even though I was a priority, it still might be an hour and a quarter till I was rescued. And then the panic set in, not only because my phone was swiftly running out of battery life (oh my, how could I possibly cope?), but also because I was desperate to go to the toilet. I’m sorry if you think that’s too much information, but there’s nothing like realising you’re stuck on the side of the motorway with no idea how long it’s going to be before you get home, to make your bladder suddenly feel like it’s about to explode.
I considered my options and there were only two. There was the plastic drinks bottle with a top the size of a two pence piece (er, I think not) and there was the option to go alfresco. I seriously considered this but with not a tree in sight, nor anything else to hide behind other than my very small Mini, I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t think it would have been fair on the other hundreds of drivers who were hurtling down the motorway to be subjected to the sight of me crouching at the side of the road. I would have caused a pile up. But 45 minutes later I really wasn’t sure I could put it off anymore. Just as I started to get into position, I thankfully (and just in time) spotted my hero in his recovery truck appearing over the horizon. The drivers of the M1 were saved from a truly horrific sight.
My hero was a delightful young man and although I’m sure he must always be greeted with great joy and relief when he arrives on the scene, I’m not so sure he’s ever had such an overly thankful middle aged woman waddling up to him with her legs crossed. So although the tyre blow out was an unpleasant and pretty scary experience, I’d like to thank the AA and the lovely man who collected me for the prompt, professional and, as it turned out, very pleasant assistance. And I’d like to thank my bladder for holding on until I got home!
NOTE TO SELF: As my grandmother always told me, always pay a visit before you get in the car.