Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Changing a tyre

Recently I have been acutely aware of how much Zippy has to plan ahead for our family. I have, in light of this and the doubling of my meds, been trying to take more pro active responsibility.

The tyre in our car needs changing! I am going to be pro active! I am not going to leave this for Zippy to do!

Boldly I set out to 'Sam Tyres'. I gulp and reason with myself that 'garage land' is a land I understand, I can do this!!!

The car pulls right and immediate right again into the thin blue gates 'Sams Tyres'. The first thing that strikes me is a scene of utter chaos and the noise. 

I have pulled into a car park of Turkish, Afghan, African, Polish, Eastern European 'man land'. Theres a man with velvet red slip on shoes. Another with fake crocodile boots, yet another in sports direct steel toe caps, all covered in plaster dust.. It goes on.

Somewhere in my vague consciousness I can here all the various languages. I'm aware of a very un-English like jumble of cars and vans all trying to be 'next' for a new tyre. Horns are honking and in the din I realise I have parked right in the centre of the gates.

I have no clue how to express or navigate me and my car's needs. I get out, breath and look for eye contact with some one who understands I am a customer.

No one steps forward or reasures me with a helpful glance but I'm bloody minded and I stride up to a ford transit perilously balanced at 45degrees. I demand help from the mechanic by standing in a way that casts a shadow over his work. He speaks first "tyre?" he half shouts in an accent, I'm taken aback so I nod. "Tyre!" He goes on using his fingers "One two three four?" He looks at me questionably.

I'm not sure what to do, aware that velvet red shoe man has turned with interest in his skinny jeans. I hold a finger up "one" I reply to the mechanic who is already strutting purposefully towards our Citreon.

Taking a cigarette out of his top pocket, mechanic man lights up and roams around, "two" he says challengingly. "One" I say firmly, pointing at my offside front tyre. 

He seems disappointed, I feel triumphant that I didn't give in. "Drive your car" he commands pointing at what looks like an impossible path to the garage.

I feel myself freeze, I know I can't do it and my heart pumps. I hold up the keys and squeak "you". He looks disappointed, or at least resigned, and hops in the car.

Honking the horn repeatedly, an incredible vehicle dance starts. Men seem to appear from everywhere. Guiding, suggesting, hustling, whistling, until my car creeps its way through all the others to the front.

I myself am guided into a ply board makeshift hut. A hut containing three white garden chairs. I feel ridiculous,  have lost control and can't leave! My car is now trapped by others and I'm sat in a little 2m by 2m hut with its low roof and walls painted in yellow gloss.

Wondering how to keep calm I struggle to sit. Should I cross my legs, sit forward or sit back. Knowing none if the panic is really relevant, I watch as my car is jurked up and down on the trolley jack and air drill screeches. I remember all my lessons on tyre nut torque and wince. Then I look in horror as at incredible speed and co operation due to yet more honking and gibbering, my car is skimmed out of the garage across the car park and out the gate.

That's it I crumble! I don't know whats happening! Have they stolen my car? Are they test driving it? Where's it gone? I'm supposed to be collecting the kids from school in twenty minutes!!!

Body frozen unable to move, the same mechanic ambles over, "your car is dirty", I stare at him unmoving, "dirty your car", he seems slightly unnerved. I hear from far away a voice exclaim in a very posh voice "oh it's terribly filthy, most disgusting".

The words have come from me only I don't recognise them or the accent at all, dismayed I realise I must try and match that accent, but I'm so confused by it myself that I cannot. 

"Thirty pounds" says the mechanic. Not understanding all I can think is wheres my bloody car! "Thirty pounds for tyre and car wash" he says pointing out of the gate, "you pay card or cash?". 

Now when frozen (those that know me understand), I can not move until some bizarre thing goes ping in my head. However if someone else gives me a command then I will move instantly.

Thankfully mechanic man at this point gave me his full attention, (mostly because I think he thought I couldn't pay), squaring me full in the face he firmly repeated "come pay, come pay" waggling his finger at the bright blue hut opposite the yellow century box.

Having payed by following his blunt instructions, I then walk with concrete filled legs across the endless length of the car park. (Im sure it's tripled in size and velvet red shoe man is still wandering about on high alert). 

Through the blue gates and through a similarly styled yellow pair, in relief I found my car. Clean, sparkling, glossed tyres, polished interior and smelling of sweet spring flowers. 

Shocked, I smiled, marvelled and slid into the drivers seat. Looking at the gleaming gear stick and buffed glass. Where else but Tottenham could you get such a multi cultural experience, a full hand valet and a new tyre for thirty quid?