Nov 9, 2013

Words for Wednesday: a true Friday story

'Words for Wednesday' is a writing prompt held by Delores at Under the Porch Light.
Use some or all of the week's words, write a poem or a story or a fragment, and visit Delores' current week's prompt to let her know you've joined in.

This week's words are:

This week I have a TRUE story. This is what happened to me tonight:

The car's problems seemed insignificant at first. I knew there was a problem with the radiator, and had felt the car's performance weaken. But I couldn't find the time or the cash to get it repaired just yet, so I kept it topped up with water and coolant and hoped for a few weeks' reprieve.

However, tonight coming home on the freeway, even I could not ignore the plumes of smoke that poured out from under the hood. I got off the freeway and pulled over. I used the maps app on my phone to track my exact location, and called for roadside assistance.

It was a ninety minute wait for the RACV. That was OK. It was a Friday night after all, and my car was my own damn fault. 

Fortunately I had a book with me. I buy books on Kindle these days, but I had treated myself the previous week to an actual paper book - and I had to admit it had been a joy reading it. It is nice to hold a physical book in your hands, and reading from paper is, after all, the easiest way to read. 

When the RACV guy arrived, he pointed out the evidence of my neglect: there was a hole in the radiator and rust around the battery, and I had been driving it hot for too long. I flushed crimson as he frowned over the engine. 

He arranged a tow truck and I got back in my car to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The sun went down. It turned cold. It started to rain. 

I put on my jacket, swallowed the bit of water in my drink bottle, and picked up my phone. I couldn't do much because my battery was low, and I knew I should save it. But still, I scrolled through Twitter, played a move in Words With Friends, and read a couple of blogs. I read Under The Porch Light's Words for Wednesday story about a woman waiting for a tow truck, while I waited for the tow truck.

I checked the time. It had been more than an hour. I rang the RACV, just to check if the tow truck had been ordered. It had.  

My phone battery was now very low. I texted my mother (who was minding my kids) and let her know not to be concerned if I didn't text or call again, because my phone was about to go dead.

I pulled out my book again and re-read the first chapter, trying to deconstruct how the author had set up the story and how he had started the action. It was a very good book.

The rain continued. Through the car window it made mottled shadows on the page of my book. Oh thank goodness, I thought. I finally found a use for "mottled" for Words for Wednesday!

My phone battery died. Forlornly I watched the little round symbol spinning to death on the screen, and then I was all alone.

It's very disconcerting to be without a phone these days. I was sitting alone in an empty carpark on a dark, cold rainy night, with no one I knew knowing where I was and no way to contact anyone.  My mind wandered a little to various scenarios. What if my interior car light attracted thugs or rapists or outlaw bikie gangs? What if I had to walk to a payphone? Was there even such a thing anymore? What if I missed the tow truck while I was walking to a payphone? What if I disappeared, never to be found again?

I sat there tottering on the border of panic for a minute, then reminded myself (a) I was not in dire straits, just waiting for a tow truck, (b) I was probably five minutes walk from Chadstone shopping centre, and (c) in the olden days of my youth I had been quite capable of surviving a couple of hours without access to a phone.

I turned on the radio and listened to the news. People in the Philippines are being battered by Typhoon Haiyan right now. I was just a woman with a #firstworldproblem, sitting in a broken down car created by her own laziness, waiting for a tow truck which would eventually come.

And it did. Eventually.

notarim/flickr creative commons


  1. Bad day, good story.

    Get a phone charger for the car!

    1. Unfortunately the cigarette lighter/charger thing is another thing that doesn't work in my car!

  2. Not every week can you use the words for a real life occurence...great job and, glad the truck finally showed up.

    1. Thanks. Glad everyone liked it, I felt like I cheated a bit. Back to fiction next time!

  3. Glad that you are ok. And hope (given the words Delores chooses) that this is the first and last true usage of them (though it was a GREAT story).

    1. Ooh yes - I hope so too.
      Thanks for the compliment!

  4. Lessons learned:always keep a book in the car and never ignore a radiator problem. Also check your phone battery before leaving the house.
    Glad you are okay. It made for a great story.

    1. Thanks River. Yes, lesson definitely learned.

  5. Agree with River - learned it the hard way - radiators need to be fixed immediately - and a charger for the phone in the car at all times is a handy thing.
    Sounds ghastly. Hope all is fixed now.

    1. Radiator getting replaced tomorrow, and at a good price too, thankfully. Unfortunately my car phone charger jack has never worked (second hand car - didn't test it till I'd had the car for months).
      It wasn't pleasant but could have been worse. Sometimes some forced "do nothing" time probably does us good.

  6. I'm really flattered by everyone's comments here, thank you! I worried this was probably a really boring read when I posted it.

  7. Cars breaking down like that can be a pain in the neck, where everything seems frayed and demolished. It's easy to extend the frustration onto other people. Rest assured though, that there are ways in which it can all be brought back together again.

    Alma @ Georgetown Exxon



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