I had to abandon my car

I have taken study leave from Monday to Wednesday next week as I’m writing year-end exams. I have quite a stressful job in that almost everything is driven by an ad hoc “urgent” deadline. I have a very strong work ethic and I suspect that this (annoying at times) trait is what makes me so good at my job. So this afternoon, I realised I wasn’t going to get through everything before my usual home time and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to work late. By this point, what started out as a beautiful morning had turned into an landscape of dark storm clouds.

By 4.30pm (my usual time to leave) I hadnt even taken lunch and settled in for another hour or 2 of work. At this point, a huge thunder storm and floods of rain were the order of the day. I decided that I had done most of what I wanted and that it was time to leave the office (at 6pm). I hate driving in the dark, or worse yet, in the dark and wet . By 6.30pm I was stuck in heavy traffic as roads were closed one after the other – forcing everyone to use the same route. But I knew I was in trouble when I started seeing vehicles abandoned by their owners in the middle of flooded roads. It’s such a hectic sight to see cars with their emergency/hazard lights on, water up past the drivers door, abandoned. I actually felt sad for the cars (majority being BMWs for some reason?) And starting to feel really scared for myself.

I drive a standard Honda Ballade (1996) and it doesnt have very high clearace from the road surface. With the other cars coming past me, the wake they left (even though they were travelling slowly) caused water to swoosh up the side of my car in giant waves, over the roof and windows. I can’t describe the horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you feel the weight of the water pushing against the doors and windows of the car as it hits. Cue terror….

By now I am sweating profusley as adrenalin kicks in, and I start to panic. I also have the heat on full blast to keep the fogging to a minimum and am now hot, bothered and near the verge of complete hysterics. I was stuck driving behind a woman driver who obviously doesn’t know that when you are going through water, you need to keep the revs up and keep the car going (not at high speed, but at a constant pace) otherwise you flood the engine and get stuck. Driving down the road we were on, I was fortunate in that there are a number of pedestrian crossings that are raised (like a wide speed hump) and I managed to stop on top of these to give her time to go on ahead and for me to gather my courage to forge ahead. I realise at this point, that this is real. That I may well get stuck/washed away in the flood water. Sound dramatic? Trust me, it felt pretty effing dramatic! The force of the water is pretty overwhelming and makes you feel really small and like you are not in control at all.

By now, my car is already protesting and spluttering and threatening to die on me. Oh, and I have no brakes – like as in zip when I press the pedal (luckily still had the handbrake for what it was worth). Everything is getting a bit much and the water is seeping in through the doors. I realised at this point that the tears are just streaming down my face – not actually crying on my part, my body just started to release tension I guess because I don’t actually remember starting to cry? No snotty nose or tight chest, just streaming tears?

I manage to make it through the hell of our town’s main road and various other side roads and into our security-controlled residential area (which I might add, is also badly flooded). I made it as far as the complex neighbouring ours. My car was telling me to here…and no further. It died on me and no amount of begging, pleading, threatening or swearing could coax it back to life. I decided to call K to come get me – I had had enough. I was pretty ok when the phone was ringing, but the moment he answered, I burst into tears (if you are a woman, you know that “ugly” cry where you cant speak English no matter how hard you try? That’s the one). We managed to communicate enough that he knew where I was and came to get me. The sheer relief of seeing him made me cry a bit more. We abandoned my car there after K chatted to a home owner and asked if we could leave the car on their pavement, they were happy to oblige.

Even though the road home was flooded from where we were, I felt better, purely because my guy was there – Like my knight in shining armour. Sadly, I can’t say the rescue was even remotely romantic. Nor did I feel anything like a princess being rescued. And I sure as heck didn’t look the part all sweaty, flushed, tear-stained and wet.

I am so relieved to be warm, dry and safe. As I sit here typing this, the thunder is booming and the rain is coming down in a constant deluge. Next time it comes bucketing down like this, I’m pulling over at the closest B&B and booking in. I am not doing this again. Ever.

Nicky

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