Monday, November 03, 2008

A sorry tale, of incompetence and self-pity.

Well. all the chirpy, creative, life-enhancing, best-laid plans I had for Nablopomo projects have temporarily disappeared, fugitive in a haemorrhage of self-esteem brought about by my having pranged the car. Not in any dramatic, skin of my teeth scenario of the kind to make one experience an epiphany of acute thankfulness at being alive or anything like that, simply the kind of stupid, unnecessary event that leaves one feeling a total bloody prat.

I'd had a pointless afternoon out at the shops. This was because on my weekly supermarket trip last Friday, I bought four litres of milk, split from a pack of six, which is normal practice. However, although the bill was somewhat alarmingly high, not until I was home did I realise the cashier had scanned the code for the six-pack and then timesed it by four, so I had in fact paid for 24 litres of milk. I telephoned, no problem, but I would have to make a return trip, and that had to be Monday, today, everything being closed on Saturday for the Day of the Chrysanthemum Dead. For the want of a nail...

This afternoon looked astonishingly like the first day of the January sales. Everybody having been cooped up for the weekend with their deceased and a pungent array of chrysanthemums, they clearly couldn't wait to get out to the shops and the land of the living again. Instead of sensibly obtaining my refund and getting the hell out, I thought I might as well make it worth my while being there and trailed round looking at things we can't afford to buy, like rugs and curtain material, and doing a bit of research for obscure items on Tom's wish list, so I was quite late starting for home. Molly started to whinge, understandably, by the time we got to Quessoy, that she'd been out in the car all afternoon and had barely sniffed so much as a fence post, so I diverted to the arboretum. We both relaxed and inhaled deeply of the twilighty, smoky air and glowing colours, and I rebuked myself for wasting my time in the fleshpots when I could have been here all along.

I relaxed yet more as I pottered homeward, and relaxed so much that I have no recall at all of what I was thinking about or looking at when the car mounted the very high pavement in the bend in the road by the small supermarket there with an alarming crack, but I do seem to remember I seemed to drive along it for quite some way before I dared to come down off it again. Fortunately no one was walking on it at the time. I limped a couple of hundred yards to the nearest carpark, that of the pharmacy.

Thanks to the conveniences of mobile phones and a second car, I quite quickly sorted out a lift home and the garagist to come and look at it sur place tomorrow (nither Tom nor I do wheel-changes), and then reassured the staff at the pharmacy that though my dear old BX might look like a rusting and abandoned wreck with a very flat tyre just waiting to be torched by the racaille of Quessoy, I truly was coming back for it in the morning.

So, I've done my best to make an entertaining anecdote out of it, and heaven knows I should be able to tell a story against myself by now, I've had enough opportunity. But the fact is, I am left with the unpleasant conviction, and it isn't the first time, that though I might occasionally be able to turn a reasonable phrase, make a pretty picture, even perhaps cook a meal, when it comes to certain basic life skills that other people take their ability to undertake unthinkingly for granted, like driving a car, I am a totally incompetent cretin. Attempts to mitigate the fact: I was tired, accidents mostly happen within 5 miles of home when people start to relax, it could have been worse, or have happened at a worse time, just don't cut it.

What's the point in taking great care to be thrifty, to carefully watch and husband our resources as we do, when with a moment of carelessness I bring down needless expense and worry on our heads? It may be only a burst tyre, bad enough, but it may be worse.

I hate hurting my car, there's no escaping our reliance on our motors; the car, and that car in particular, because it's the rough workhorse of the family, is the means by which I go to work, fetch provisions, collect the free off-cuts of wood from the sawmills to help keep us warm, pick up bags of plaster and cement and compost, carry the recyclables to the ecopoint and walk Molly in the woods or round the plan d'eau after, look after and keep my friendships oiled and attended to, and generally raise life above the level of harsh subsistence.

Since experiencing the awakening, enlightenment and reassessing of priorities occasioned by the onset of acute diverticulitis, and other spiritually improving practices and disciplines, Tom has become extraordinarily cheerful and laid back with a 'sufficient unto the day' kind of attitude to things like this that I wouldn't have believed possible at one time. I appreciate this deeply. I still feel crap. He doesn't, at this time especially, need to be suffering anxieties about my competence in moving myself about independently and safely. We don't, at this time especially, need to have the financial burden of car repair bills.

Ah me.

17 comments:

marja-leena said...

So sorry about the accident, Lucy, and I do empathize with the blow to one's self-esteem! Yet, what an entertaining tale you've written, and how wonderful that Tom is so laid back. Isn't it sometimes like that, if one partner is upset, the other is calm? Feel better soon!

Julia said...

Agh, I so sympathize. Last time I drove our car (it was also the first time) I ran into the wall of our garage and scraped the door nearly off. I flinched for days. Will had a Tom-like manner about the whole thing but this is why I like trams so very much.

Lucy said...

Thank you both, you make me feel better, and Julia, you made me laugh. Mind you, you probably had a reasonable excuse, like being pregnant or sleep deprived or having screaming children in the back...

Anne said...

Feck it, never mind, it's only a car. Did the same myself today and wing mirror is now hanging by a pathetic thread over a big dent in the door. Happens to everyone all the time. Certainly everyone in Belgium anyway.

Catalyst said...

I think that calm attitude in one's partner is bolstered by the knowledge that the "offending one" has already beaten himself/herself up.

Zhoen said...

Yeah, I beat myself up when I do dumb stuff too. It's mostly to drive in the lesson so I won't do it again.

Just remember, it's doing dumb stuff, it's not being stupid. Big difference.

Imagine how the cashier feels about screwing up your milk bill earlier. Twas one of those days when chaos reigns.

leslee said...

Oh, so sorry, Lucy. Those sorts of things do happen, but they can really ruin your day! It'll eventually pass, and a lot sooner than if it had been something really serious.

Dave said...

This is why I don't drive. You have my sympathies.

Sheila said...

I'm so sorry! And could tell similar tales....I totaled the first-ever new car my dad had purchased...I shouldn't have been driving with only two hours of sleep the night before. But he was so sweet, just concerned that I was okay (I was unconscious for a bit, kind of scary); he never said a thing about the car.

It happened less than a minute out of the parking lot.

May your crappy mood lift soon.

Lucy said...

Thanks friends, I knew you'd all be nice.

A night of bad sleep fearing I've written it off and knowing I've got to face the garagist and his chirpy humour and the ordeal is not over yet. The elections should distract me a bit later. Let's hope nothing catastrophic happens there...

Crafty Green Poet said...

sorry about the accident and the associated costs. I'm sure if I drove I'd do that kind of thing all the time (I'm very lucky to live somewhere where a car isn't needed) It must be so easy to be distracted. Glad that Tom is so laid back, that's always nice to have in a partner

Barrett Bonden said...

Take a deep breath and spend a few moments reflecting on the things you do well each day. If modesty is a hindrance let me provide some reminders. Cook inventively. Delight in exploring a foreign country. Run a must-read blog. Use a camera imaginatively. Understand what racaille means. Enjoy the trust of Mol. Revel in entertaining prose. And - I'm sure - drive the car with grace and precision the other 99% of the time.

Avus said...

I loved the absolute bathos of the last three words in the first paragraph (and, I am afraid, laughed aloud)
Are you sure it was only milk you bought at the supermarket?

Plutarch said...

Try a "fast forward". In a month's time it will be a faintly irrating memory. In a year's time it will be forgotten. Sympathies all the same. That damned echo.. if only, haunts you for a while."

Jean said...

Oh dear. Hope you're already feeling a lot less bad about this. Hugs.

Lucy said...

Thanks again for kindness and wise words.

BB - you frequently make me splutter with laughter, but that time you brought a lump to my throat! Too nice...

(That goes for the rest of you too)

Rosie said...

I am arriving late at the scene of the crash...so sorry I wasnt here to help...I bet you feel much better by now though.
Perhaps it required lots of bits of bad luck for everyone to balance out the american election result...I expect the boot will be coming out of the sky onto my head any moment now