Thursday, 10 March 2011

Holy Shit

There's absolutely nothing like your car catching on fire to scare the holy shit out of you. Except that little transient ploy doesn't seem to have worked, this time.

We were headed home on the N1 South yesterday - oh, maybe around quarter to five, so the road was packed - when the car, a little white Daewoo we've had for less than a year, lost power to the engine. We were in the far left hand lane so Warren started to pull over . As we coasted to a stop, huge flames started to billow out from under the hood.

We got out of the car in the emergency lane, and Warren wrestled the bonnet open. At about the same time, a blue Nissan bakkie pulled in behind us and the driver rushed up to us with a fire extinguisher. Bless him a  thousand times - I think he saved our car. The fire in the engine was put out, but a bloke standing on the side of the highway ran up to tell us that the road under the car was now on fire, too. He flagged down a passing van full of labourers on their way home and used their extinguisher to put out the tarmac fire. Bless him, also. Two people who had absolutely nothing to gain - but they were, almost, the only two. Most of the other road users -in a scene reminiscent of when my bike broke down in Bryanston - hooted angrily or satirically and roared on by.

We're insured by Outsurance, and to be fair to them (because I'm going to blast them in a minute) they haven't given us much trouble in the last ten years or so - they've towed our vehicles home three times so far, at no charge. Not this time though. This time they wanted to charge us, and the rate the tow company they referred us to asked was absurd. For a tow of  about 10km or less, they quoted R750. Not feeling that we had much choice - and how many people feel trapped like that in an emergency situation?- we were about to agree, when the third of our miracle rescuers pitched up.

He was a tow truck driver from Rapid 24/7 (sorry guys, can't find your website!). Immediately helpful, he asked, and I gave him R450 for the towing service. In no time we were home -the dogs were worried - and this morning Warren is busy repairing the bits of engine which were melted down.

Thank you, Nash from Rapid Towing. Thank you, guy in Nissan bakkie. Thank you, itinerant worker standing on the side of the highway.

No thanks go to you, Outsurance, for your contractor's -First Road - blatant attempt to rip off people in an emergency situation. I'll never use your financial services again. And First Road - forget it. You crooks.

And here's a thing: when our engine burst into flames and it looked very much like we were going to lose our entire car, when Warren was busy burning his hands to get the bonnet open, while we found ourselves stranded on the side of an insanely busy highway, I might have expected to feel fear, even panic. But the twin egregores Phobos and Deimos were startlingly absent from my psyche during the entire episode. Even back home, tweeting and facebooking the drama in short form, I was almost subconsciously searching myself for that fear response. Or that anger response, which is almost the same thing in humans. But no. Nothing.

So thank you, Ancestors gathered round. And thank you, Deities standing ready to assist. And thank you, spirit-and-flesh Totems so strongly possessing the body and soul that apparently, no fear reaction was even necessary.