Sometimes you get events happen to you that are, well, vaguely perturbing.
It happened to me yesterday during what was supposed to be an uneventful trip to Auckland to interview someone for a story and to take my brother to tonight’s Warriors’ match.
I felt good, I felt confident, I had been saved from disaster (just) when I noticed a week earlier that my front tyres were in urgent need of replacement and would not have got me to Auckland. They were replaced in the nick of time.
Then disaster struck.
Five minutes north of Kaiwaka in driving rain I see a parked ute facing me, the oncoming traffic, with its lights flashing. Speed camera? Radar? Bloody stupid place to tell me. Then it struck me. Or I struck it.
A sinkhole had opened up in the road, underscored by the wet weather. It took out both my passenger side wheels and tyres, shredding them. But I was only fifteenth in line. Within 10 minutes, that one sinkhole took out no fewer than 24 vehicles with multiple punctures and wrecked wheels.
Twenty-four immobile vehicles on the side of the road, drivers and passengers watching destruction unfold around them.
And one AA Road Service Tow Operator. And he already had a wrecked car on his truck (more about that later). He did his best. He put spares on all the cars he could, making no distinction between AA members and non-members, and those with single punctures could at least move off.
He could do nothing for those with multiple punctures.
I am an AA member, and my membership entitles me to a lift to my destination (Auckland) to get a rental and the return of my stranded car to a destination of my choosing (Kerikeri). The latter would have to wait because, remember, he had that car on the back. But if I climbed into his cab he would drive me down to Auckland, delivering that car to a house in Massey on the way.
So, for the next four hours I, with my prolapsed disc, sat in a cramped cab feeling every jolt and bolt, enlivened only by the amiability of my towie, Colin.
With some difficulty, we found the house in Massey. The car we carried had crashed the previous night in Maungaturoto. The owner had met Colin at the crash site that morning and paid him an undisclosed amount in cash to tow the car to the owner’s Massey home.
I was interested to note when we arrived that there was already no shortage of cars, and motorbikes there. There was also a Headhunters patch hanging in the garage.
But the guy seemed friendly enough. Even gave Colin a $100 tip.
It’s getting late.
AA has arranged a rental, to be picked up from the airport and hour and a half ago.
Colin and I are lost in Henderson. All of my stuff that I had put in the back of that car is now stacked on my lap and my back.
I don’t like Henderson.
Then the call comes.
He asks Colin where that car is.
Colin tells him.
Why does he want to know?
Because the bloody thing is apparently stolen.
Colin rings the police to confirm.
They too want to know where the car was delivered to.
I bet they do.
I simply want to know where I am—or where the airport is.
I don’t want to be lost in Henderson.
In fact, I want to go home.
I am beginning to hate the world.
Bad backs, munted tyres, sink-holes wrecked cars, stolen cars, Headhunters, Henderson, are not part of a world in which you can find anything to love.
Unless it’s for a Fryday.