In Flight Magazine - - EDITOR’S LETTER -

It was that time of the year again – the car needed a ser­vice. It is an in­evitable part of car own­er­ship, along with a healthy fear of hail, con­stant anx­i­ety over petrol price hikes and a sense of im­mense ac­com­plish­ment when you man­age to change a tyre or two.

Tak­ing a leaf out of my grand­fa­ther’s book – the man was ex­cel­lent with money – I duly put some money in an en­ve­lope ev­ery month for my ser­vice. I even de­layed it a lit­tle bit this year, so that I would have an ex­tra month or two to add to the kitty, bear­ing in mind that it was com­ing up for a ma­jor ser­vice. I was also pre­pared to have to top up the en­ve­lope cash a bit with Mr Credit Card, as I had been fore­warned that I may need to re­place a few of my ig­ni­tion coils.

So, cash clev­erly se­creted about my per­son, I dropped off my baby at the deal­er­ship and headed to work. An hour later, my phone rang. “Hi, this is Cyn­thia from X, Hat­field. Do you re­mem­ber whether it was the front ig­ni­tion coils or the back ones that they warned you about last time?”

“Hmm, I had no idea that there were two sets,” I said, “just that I might have to re­place two or pos­si­bly all four.” “Ma’am, there are ac­tu­ally eight in to­tal.”


My hear t skipped a beat. Cyn­thia said they’d check them all and get back to me. It was a long morn­ing of wait­ing for my phone to ring.

Even­tu­ally it did. On the bright side, they only had to re­place four of the coils. On the down side, they had to re­place FOUR of the coils! Oh and the bat­tery, and the wind­screen wipers – and let’s not for­get the wheel bear­ing. “So what is that go­ing to cost?” I asked, pretty sure I ac­tu­ally didn’t want to know the an­swer.

The num­ber that slipped silk­ily from her mouth klapped me across the face like a me­dieval tool of torture. “What?” I croaked, and then fran­ti­cally added up the cost in my head as she reeled off the prices of the in­di­vid­ual parts.The end re­sult was a num­ber more than three times the money in the en­ve­lope – which had looked like a lot when I had re­trieved the wad of notes that morn­ing.The short­fall was also sig­nif­i­cantly more than benev­o­lent Mr Credit Card had said he would chip in, and I could see him glar­ing dis­ap­prov­ingly at me from my wal­let.

I felt like cry­ing.Then I made a cup of tea (sadly, we had al­ready fin­ished off the of­fice wine) and had a lit­tle think.

This car has been a joy for seven years and has al­ways served me well, kept me safe and taken me wher­ever I wanted to go – with rea­son­ably priced ser­vices and great fuel con­sump­tion. And be­sides, I’m priv­i­leged enough to ac­tu­ally own a car. And with that comes the con­ve­nience of not hav­ing to stand in queues for pub­lic trans­port, not hav­ing to lug heavy parcels home, not hav­ing to po­ten­tially put my­self in dan­ger by never know­ing just how safe my next ride will be. I have the free­dom to not have to plan my ex­cur­sions ac­cord­ing to timeta­bles and not have to get wet walk­ing in the rain.

I am ex­tremely lucky to have that level of con­ve­nience and re­li­a­bil­ity in my life – and surely that, and the con­tin­ued safety of my car, are worth pay­ing for?

My credit card is al­most maxed out, and I will be eat­ing rather a lot of baked beans on toast for the next few months, but at least I have the op­tion to do that.

Some­times it takes a me­dieval tool of torture to wake you up to the fact just how much you have to be grate­ful for, and to re­mind you to do what you can to help those who may not be that lucky.

Safe Trav­els


PS: If you really want to feel grate­ful for your bless­ings, try liv­ing with­out a wash­ing ma­chine for five months. (Done it, never want to do it again!)

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