So it should first of all be noted that I am never, ever the first nominated driver in our crew. If no one else can drive due to extreme intoxication, a serious medical injury (like bleeding to death, loss of limb, or near death), and we cannot cajole a neighbour or random stranger on the street to drive the car, then I am instructed to drive.
Literally no one is very happy about this.
But each time I go home, The Mom insists I drive so as to not lose what we loosely refer to as my skills.
Whilst home over the winter holidays, I wanted to go see a dear friend who lived not too far away, but far enough for everyone to be slightly nervous as it would involve me navigating by myself back country roads and a slight bit of the highway.
Also, it was winter. Proper Canadian winter. With snow blowing about the place, getting in the way of seeing. I make this journey to see my friend each time I go home, and in the summer it’s fine. But winter is another story.
This time, when I arrived at my friend’s house, she was actually shocked I’d been allowed to drive. Because the weather was horrendous. I was allowed to go because The Mom is much more lenient than Crazy D who has a better sense of these things.
But the drive there was okay if slightly nerve-wracking in those moments when I couldn’t quite see the road ahead. But never mind, I arrived in once piece and had a good visit.
The ride home however…
The windows wouldn’t stop fogging up and I couldn’t work out how to de-fog them so had to drive with the heating off, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d had something more than plastic gardening Birkenstocks on my feet (which are fine for shuffling around but you need to move your feet to keep them warm).
About a third of the way back to The Mom’s, amidst blowing snow so bad that other people were driving slowly, a funny light came on on the dashboard. It was not a light I was familiar with and so I didn’t know what it was trying to tell me.
Naturally, I assumed it meant the car was now essentially a time bomb I was driving.
I clutched the steering wheel and went as quickly as I dared. I managed to make it home in one piece, and when I told The Mom about the light she went into full blown panic and despair.
“WHAT?” she screeched as I was trying to eat my dinner. “What does it mean?”
“No idea,” I said, mouth full of rice, and about a thousand times calmer than previously because I was not in what I now referred to as the Car Time Bomb.
“Well, we haven’t time to go to the garage. We have Things To Do tomorrow. Do you know how much this is going to cost me?”
I stupidly did not assume this was a rhetorical question.
“Dunno,” I said shrugging.
The Mom continued to imagine all sorts of scenarios I’d not even thought to entertain and it was ruining my appetite so I got the laptop up and started Googling.
The Mom was not convinced that this was an effective way to find the answer. Until five seconds later, I’d found the answer.
“Tire pressure’s low,” I said. Now, knowing nothing about cars I felt this was a minor problem.
“But I have to get my hair fixed tomorrow!” The Mom cried out.
“So just put some air in the tires at the gas station,” I said, feeling this was both logical and sensible.
“I don’t know how to do that!”
And then I remember how, after the full serve option was no longer an option, I’d had to teach her how to pump her own gas. Useful, we are not.
“How much air? How do I know how to put it in? We have to get this looked after before you go to the train in the morning.”
“No dice. I’m meeting my North American publisher tomorrow. We DO NOT miss that train for anything. Even death. Very important. I am doing business tomorrow.”
“And you’d rather Your Poor Mother dies in a horrible car accident?”
“Not really, but seriously, big meeting. Can’t miss train.”
This carried on for Some Time, until we both had had enough and went to bed.
In the morning, we drove rather gently and cautiously in the snow and ice to the train station and I told The Mom where the nearest gas station was and instructed her to go there first under all circumstances.
“What if a tire blows out on the way?” She demanded.
“Probably won’t happen. I got home fine, this is hardly far.”
The Mom, I imagine, was entertaining twisted fanatsies about what we would wear to her impending funeral.
In the end, she took the car to Canadian Tire and they sorted it easily. When she came to pick me up at the train station that evening she was quite pleased with herself.
“See?” I said. “I told you. Just go to a service station and they’ll sort it.”
The Mom, not entirely convinced, still counted this as a win for her competence and ingenuity. I was just glad I didn’t have to go to the service station with her. It’s important to help someone learn to help themselves in these situations I believe.