Thursday, 31 May 2007


Back in the office today, still with a feckin' huge crack in my car windscreen.

First thing yesterday I called the "24 hour" number on my car insurance, and they were lovely. Helpful. Courteous. Concerned. Intelligent. Everything you don't expect a helpdesk to be, in fact.

I was comforted by this, and when they said "We use this particular glass repair place, they open at 8.30 so will be in touch with you after that" I didn't fret. And even when they gave me the glass repair place telephone number "just in case" I still thought they were being helpful and positive.

However. By the time it had reached 1030 and no word from the glass place, I thought I'd better ring them. Just in case.

No answer.

Rang again at 11.00.

No answer again.

Hmm. Feeling less encouraged now.

Time was a-ticking on and I had been warned by the freakishly helpful helpdesk that replacing the windscreen would take "2 to 3 hours". If the emergency glass place were going to get it fixed that day, skates needed to be donned.

A third call at 12.00 and joy! A bored-sounding bloke answered. I told him I was calling to find out when my car would be fixed, a conversation which ground to a halt as it became clear he had no idea what I was on about. So, the information from the suspiciously helpful helpdesk had not yet permeated through to the shop floor then?

No, it had not.

I gave the bored bloke the reference number from the helpdesk, he went away, came back, said "Ah yes. Well, I have to wait for it to get printed before I can allocate a time for the repair."

I refrained from asking "By whom, pray? William Caxton?" in a biting tone, and said instead "Oh right. Ok then" in a sad voice, as if it was all fine.

He said "I will call you back once it's printed and tell you when we can do the job." I sighed deeply, realising that I had been wildly over-optimistic in expecting the job to get done that day, as my insurance company had implied, and said "Ok then. Thanks." before going off to eat chocolate biscuits in a depressed and mechanistic manner, waiting for The Call.

It did cheer me up imagining a team of glass repair novices carefully lettering a huge illuminated manuscript for each job though.

So. A week on Friday. New windscreen. And on the plus side I get to hang around on an industrial estate in Frome for 3 hours while they do it.

Other news. Back at work.

Drove in trying not to glare hatefully at the broken windscreen (is it even legal to drive it like this? I would appreciate anyone who knows dropping me an answer on that). The glass repair guy went to great lengths to reassure me that it was all perfectly safe, laminated glass, only one layer is busted blah blah blah, but I am not happy about it.

Why? Well, I'll tell you.

I was involved in a bizarre accident a few years ago. I was driving home from work on a very windy day. It was early in the year, February or something, and the weather had been complete shite for days: power lines coming down, roofs blowing away, cows stuck up trees, the works, so I was being extra careful.

Anyhoo, a big old truck with a skip on the back was driving along in the opposite direction, and as it was a long straight road, I could see quite clearly that a big lump of (I thought) cardboard was moving about on the top of this skip, being blown by the wind.

No net or anything over the top for safety, see. And sure enough, this big bit of (I still thought) cardboard suddenly lifted off the truck like a kite, and flew vertically up many, many feet. It was quite an interesting lesson in aerodynamics, really.

I watched it, thinking "Oh, that cardboard might land on the road in front of me...oh yes, here it comes...might even hit my car...yes....heading my way...OH FUCK!!! It's a WINDOW!"

And it was. A four foot square, metal framed, fully-glazed window. Single, not double glazed. Probably why it was on its way to the tip, now that I think about it. Landed edgeways on my bonnet (the car's, not a gaily-decorated hat), then pinwheeled over the roof and smashed into tiny bits on the road behind me.

I stopped pretty sharpish. Well, I had to, as I couldn't see anything due to my windscreen being completely opaque now, and sat there, shaking, covered in tiny shards of glass and bits of my car's trim (mirrors, lights, bits of the sunroof) that had all been knocked onto my lap.

As I sat there, stupidly wondering where my wing mirror had gone (answer: in the middle of the road, under a broken metal-framed window), a panicky bloke opened my passenger door, looked in at me and said "I thought you'd be dead!"

He'd been in the car behind me and had seen the whole thing. When the huge fountain of glass shot up from my car, he assumed it was my windscreen shattering, and that I would have been mashed under whatever he'd seen land on my car.

Not having my victim's-eye view of the whole thing he hadn't realised it was a window, and that the glass was from it, rather than my windscreen. No, that was still in place, although I now had hundreds of tiny glass splinters stuck all over my face and hands.

So, I rang the police who said "Oh dear" which was comforting. Not helpful, but comforting.

The truck was nowhere to be seen, the driver probably to this day being blissfully oblivious to the carnage he was leaving in his wake, the incompetent fuckwit. The nice man who had thought I'd be dead drove me home, the car got towed to the repairers and my insurance company had to foot a £2500 bill to fix it.

The thing that really REALLY annoyed me was the trail of bits of rubbish all the way home along the road, obviously having been shed by this lorry on every roundabout and junction - railway sleepers, bricks, breeze blocks...we're not talking crisp packets and cigarette ends here.

He could have killed me. If I'd been on the bike, it would have taken my head off.

Anyway, that's why I am more than a little twitchy about my windscreen having a crack in it.

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