I have to admit, the last few weeks have been the toughest of my whole life and even more so that of my children's. I wouldn't mind so much if it was purely a case of emotional upheaval but stone the crows, does EVERYTHING else have to go wrong as well? I have always prided myself on being an eternal optimist but I must confess to being perilously close to reaching the end of my tether lately. The one thing which has kept me going through it all is the kindness of a few amazing people who I can only describe as angels. This story may be lengthy but I think their selfless actions deserve to be recognised.
Remember my last blog, when I had to replace the brake pads on my car? At the time I was told I also needed three new tyres. Unfortunately I couldn't afford the $670 they quoted me for all three so the plan was to gradually replace them one at a time. The powers that be had other ideas however. Last Friday I was driving home from Auckland. School was out, people were driving home from work and I was travelling on one of the country's most notorious stretches of highway when one of my tyres suddenly blew out and I came to a grinding halt just before a nasty corner. I'm not kidding when I say this was pretty much the LAST place you would want to be stuck in a stationary vehicle, let alone one which didn't quite make it safely into the shoulder before stopping! Cars were going crazy honking their horns but there was nothing at all I could do. I was absolutely terrified.
Fortunately the car behind me saw what had happened and immediately stopped to help. Again I can't stress how dangerous this place was; the driver literally risked his life to help me, not to mention his car and as it turned out, his Golden Retriever, who was making his first car journey in months following a major operation! 'Do you have a spare?' the man asked. 'Yes, I do!' I said, relieved. This wonderful man was going to change my tyre and soon I would be on my way again! Well, that was the plan. Unfortunately despite a desperate search of the boot I didn't have the necessary tools to change the tyre. As it turned out, the man did - but as Murphy's Law would have it, they didn't fit MY tyre. 'I'm so sorry, I really have to get going', he apologised 'but look, there's a service station a few kilometres down the road and they have a mechanic next door, I'm sure they will be able to help. Let me take you there'. I nervously agreed to a lift - what else could I do? I couldn't stay there, I'd get wiped out for certain! As I got into the passenger seat and moved over the little girl's pink bicycle helmet, I noticed that his car was full of family stuff just like mine, dog included and did my best to convince myself that this bloke couldn't possibly be an axe murderer.
He wasn't and when we arrived at the service station he stayed to explain the situation to the man behind the counter before leaving and wishing me luck. However the mechanic's was closed and the service station was under new ownership by a family who barely spoke English. I could feel myself starting to crumble on the inside. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, my kids were almost two hours away and I didn't know a soul. I had no idea how or when I would get home and God only knew what was happening to my car. I just didn't know what to do. I was standing there like an idiot when the owner of the service station came out from behind the counter and asked if I was a member of the AA. 'No', I said miserably, making a mental note to become one as soon as possible. 'I am', he said. 'Look, I'm not supposed to do this but we have to get you and your car out of there. I'm going to ring the AA and use my membership to call them out and fix your tyre. I'm going to tell them I am the passenger in your car. If they ask you anything, we are friends, you got that?' I couldn't believe what this complete stranger was willing to do for me. After my run of luck that day, my expectations were far from high. Could we really pull this off? It appeared we could! I bought a drink and a magazine (seemed the least I could do!) and for the next hour or so I sat in the service station with my new friend as we both waited for news. The day was starting to draw to a close and I grew ever more agitated at the thought of my car in such a treacherous place. What if it caused an accident once it got dark? What if it already had?!
Suddenly the phone rang and my friend (who's name I shamefully don't know) jumped up. 'It's the AA, your car is all fixed!' he smiled. 'But how are we going to get you back there?' As if he hadn't already done enough for me, this wonderful man actually closed the service station (let's be honest Penny, the poor bloke was probably desperate to get rid of you!) and for the second time that day I found myself putting my complete trust in a stranger as we zoomed up the highway. Yay, my car was fixed! This man had saved me a fortune, bless his heart! But there was still one big problem - how the heck was I going to get my car out of there safely? The light was fading and the traffic by now was even heavier. With a sickening feeling inside, I prepared to text my loved ones just in case me and my car didn't make it out.
I needn't have worried, as we arrived it appeared I had caused quite a stir! There was the AA man, lights flashing, waiting for my 'friend' to fill out the paperwork. Also with his lights flashing was a policeman who had thoughtfully placed cones all over the place to slow the traffic down and create a nice barricade around my car. The paperwork was signed and my friend and I were able to get back into our respective cars and move sedately back onto the highway and back on our merry way. When I arrived home it was dark and my boys were waiting for me. I was exhausted but no quarter was given - it was Friday night and that meant Pool Night at the local club!
I still can't believe I made it out of that horrendous situation; it was purely thanks to the kindness and generosity of others that I did. It was hard to have to put my faith in complete strangers in today's untrusting society but I like to think I would have done the same for them. And if there is one thing I have learned from the experience it is that every cloud really does have a silver lining. My bank account may be haemmoraghing money left, right and centre but surely it can't last forever! In the past fortnight my chimney's been blocked, my car's failed me twice, the hot water element has needed replacing, my mobile phone (my ONLY phone) died along with Liam's laptop, one of the toilets needs fixing, the bathroom sink is leaking, I almost chopped off one of my fingers and one of Liam's mates spilled beer all over the carpet at the weekend so the place smells like a brewery BUT - every time I think things can't get any worse, something or someone comes along to make things better and restore my faith.
Take yesterday for example. We woke up to no hot water again and missed the school bus even though we were EARLY, meaning I had to drive an hour out of my way on bald tyres and the quarter full tank of gas I was saving. I came home to find one of the cats had piddled in the linen cupboard, there was a headless bird in the kitchen, a house full of feathers and a fridge full of exploded sticky Mexican Cola. I lit the fire to dry my washing and save using the dryer and as I did so got a splinter in my thumb the size of a small continent. In the end I could take no more. I went for a long walk on the beach and said to no one in particular 'For God's sake, somebody just give me a break will ya?' It seems someone heard me. I arrived home to find we had received a second offer on our house, an unexpected angel offered the boys and I AND our pets a super cheap rental for as long as we want and... the bank has pre-approved finance for me to buy a place of my very own! Thank you, thank you powers that be!