Not my usual kind of post this, But it needs writing.
I bought a new car in September. I have never done this before, having always wondered what the point of ‘new’ car is. But for various economic reasons, it made sense. I was tired of driving cars that unpredictably threw enormous garage bills in my face with a loud ‘pah – that’s for never putting me through the car wash’. I do a lot of miles for my work,what I drive needs to be reliable.
The new car was an instant hit with my little girl, and was quickly bestowed with a name – Nellie. All was well until a month or so ago when a strange noise began rattling away whenever she was being driven. Initially assessed as a faulty part in the air conditioning system, she was booked in to the garage she came from for a proper assessment. This took place last week, and she came back 24 hours later, with the necessary part on order. No hint of her being unsafe to drive was offered, and a date set a little way off for her return for the new part to be fitted.
On Sunday afternoon I drove home from the supermarket with my 15-month old son in the back, and, a few minutes into the journey, found myself wondering why the car behind me was flashing his lights at me. I could see a little smoke, and pulled over. Noxious thick white smoke was pouring from my engine. I got the baby out, full of panic, and the kind driver who had alerted me stopped too, and lifted my bonnet (I later learned that he shouldn’t have done this, should you find yourself in a similar situation). No flames but a lot of smoke.
In tears of anger and fear I rang my husband and then the rescue service number. They said I was a priority as a woman alone with a baby. They turned up over an hour and a half later, by which time my hubby and I had swapped over so that I could get the kids back for tea and out of the cold wind. The engineer indicated that the broken part in the air conditioning had not been disconnected and had effectively burnt out.
There are a lot more details to this story but the pertinent stuff, for the purposes of my blog are as follows;
- The fear I felt that the engine might have caught fire was very real, and the panic I felt for me and my little boy still had me feeling physically shaky and lacking appetite 24 hours later. I have replayed how much worse it could have been over and over – which is a pretty standard traumatic stress response.
- The anger I have felt at the incompetency of the garage, the indignation that they would put our lives at risk, has been equally consuming. I have shouted, hounded, tweeted and facebooked on the company’s sites – raging, raging, raging.
- I have been reminded, have re-learnt about myself, how much more assertive and eloquent I am when acting in defence of the kids than I am when merely doing so on my own behalf. The service manager got an absolute earbashing and a demand for far more than I would usually push for when complaining about poor service. I have felt this way before, when I discovered that a childminder I was employing to care for my daughter was treating her differently to other children (probably because of my job), or when a health visitor criticised me over my choice of goat milk formula in front of a room full of mums. If you do something to our kids, directly or indirectly, I am a Mama Grizzly (though I am unlike Sarah Palin in every single other way going).
Like I say, hell hath no fury.
This is not a sponsored post. The morally-lacking car company that I bought Nellie from did not ask me to tell the world via my blog how pants I think their service was. For legal reasons I can’t tell you who they are, but the engineers who built her probably sing the Marseillaise when they watch sport on television, and the marketing company who devised their adverts obviously had a penchant for transformers when they were kids.