Unfortunately our village no longer has a garage.

The last time I needed them was in the middle of winter. It had been snowing; it was slippery and when I came at a crossing and wanted to take a turn, I just slipped straight into a deep ditch. After a cold walk through snow and ice, I arrived at the garage. It was Monday and that seemed to be the weekly day off. A neighbour was helpfully willing to drive me to the house of the owner of the garage, which was on the other side of the village. Once there, we went with his son in his car, and drove back to the garage again. Along the way we picked up an employee of the garage, as every hand was useful.

The tow truck seemed to be needing a long warm-up. Besides, there where plenty of other cars in the way, which had to be moved first. All together this took about 45 minutes, and when finally the exit was empty, and the tow truck seemed to be warmed enough, we all climbed in, which, with some squeezing, just fit. When my car, with a lot of effort, was pulled out of the ditch, I asked what this all would cost me. Hesitantly the mechanic asked if 10 euro’s was okay. When I said it was not enough, he looked at me, puzzled.
As said, this garage does not exist any more, in hindsight perhaps understandable…

Because I drive an old car, I have to deal with lots of breakdowns. A while ago it happened again. The oil of the power steering was leaking, and my car was unable to move an inch without any outside help. Because of the closing of the garage in our village, I had to call one in a nearby town.

I had met the owner, Mr. Grainger, before and he was a passionate man, someone who is always busy and running back and forth all day long. When he arrived at the agreed time, little time was needed for him to come to the conclusion that it could not be fixed that easily. The car had to be dragged into the garage. Considering the fact that it is strictly forbidden to drag with a cable, a rod was applied. I was pulled out of the parking lot next to the house with great speed. Because I had to make a sharp turn and was not used to driving without power steering, I made a far too wide turn and I went straight ahead, facing the neighbour’s house. Just in time I realised that there was still a brake on the car and in that way I was happily able to prevent driving into the neighbour’s kitchen.

Both cars were now in such an impossible angle to eachother, we could not go forward or backward. A few attempts by Mr. Grainger to push my car back only proved that the rear wheels of the tow vehicle came off the ground a few times and the street was shrouded in a blue vapour. Mr. Grainger left the car, disconnected the tow bar and then drove at high speed down the street.

I hoped that he wouldn’t be angry, and I feared that he would leave me behind, handling this impossible situation on my own. Fortunately, he came back, driving into the street from the other side. He attached the tie rod to the car again, and he started pushing me out of the street, in front of him. Assuming that, at the end of the street, he would start pulling me to the garage again, I stopped, but that was not his intention. With loud honking and waving he signalled that we would continue the same way.

With horror I realized that we would pass some priority intersections, and from my advanced position was quite alarmed. Grainger didn’t seem to think that this was a problem, and he pushed me fearlessly over the intersections as if there was no traffic. Which was, fortunately, the case at that moment. Relieved, I took a breath when we were out of town.The first ten miles, I started to realize that there was no real problem anymore, and I finally dared to sit back a bit. The not too broad road with many curves proved to be a challenge for Grainger to step on the gas. With a speed that I would normally never drive, even in good conditions, I was pushed through the numerous bends, which, of course, was made even more difficult by the failed power steering. When the garage came into view, I let out a sigh of relief. Soon we would be off the road and I would be safe, I thought.

There was a truck and we could not pass it, even as as far as I could see there was no traffic on the road. Grainger had other thoughts. He found it all taking far too long and started pushing again.. I considered stepping on the brake, but I realized this would probably only make the situation more dangerous. The truck began horning very loud and he was just in time to make an emergency stop. With my heart in my throat I needed a few minutes to catch my breath Mr. Grainger pretended nothing had happened, and began making preparations for the repair ...