My car (the one Mrs. Rumm usually drives) was due for the National Car Test the other week at 11 am.. I should have brought this up sooner on here because it is a good tale, but to be honest it has taken until now for me to calm down enough to be able to recount it:
The test was to be conducted in Blarney, which meant I would have to leave by 10:15 at the very latest if I was to be on time.
If you’re like me this proffers an immediate dilemma: What to do for the morning beforehand? I realise some amongst you (usually women with five kids, three jobs and a law degree) would have no problem working through half a dozen tasks or more, but I’m a procrastinating idiot so none of that was really an option.
So instead after delivering the kids to school I returned home, made a cup of tea, sat at my desk and… er… dum de dum… what time is it now?… Anything interesting happening in the world online?… No… Er… Right… What else to do?… Time?
I was also meant to be reinstalling Windows XP for a friend, but since I had only one monitor (already in use on my own pc) I didn’t want to begin that process until right before I was leaving, otherwise I’d have nothing to do without my pc before me doing nothing. Someone might send me an email or something and I wouldn’t be able to see it. Or something.
I reckoned 10am would be a safe time to shut down my pc, switch the monitor to the other pc and boot up, letting Windows do its thing as I sauntered calmly out the door…
At 9:55 I received a very important email. Some website I had signed-up for a while back sent me a special offer I had no interest in. Now I wanted to unsubscribe, so I clicked the unsubscribe button on the bottom. Unfortunately this was a link to send them an email so they could unsubscribe the sending email address …except my sending email address was not the one I used to sign-up, so this address would not be removed. So I went about creating the sign-up address in my email program and found it more laborious than I imagined. To cut a long-story short, I was cursing the clock as I shut-down at ten past ten.
“That’s fine -I’ll spend five minutes starting the install process on Windows XP and shoot out the door -not a bother!”
Can you read that without hearing “famous last words” in your head?
10:20 am. I realise I’m in danger of being late. I really need to go. Still I can’t help myself. I’m on the screen where you select your keyboard type, language, etc. …English (Ireland) must be selected, as opposed to the English (US) default. It’s not as if I can’t do it later anyway. It’s not as if it matters. It’s not as if I don’t know any of this, but something keeps me sitting there fiddling with the damn keyboard and mouse!
I hit the power button on the monitor and bolt for the door. As I walk forcefully, I’m suddenly struck by an urge I was hitherto unaware of… I needed to, er, defecate. Sorry to mention it, but it’s integral to the plot you see.
“Perhaps I’ll make it to the NCT Centre?” I thought to myself, tightening and swaying my buttocks by way of appraisal. Then my over-active side kicked into overdrive.
“What if I make it, but the toilet is a hovel?”
“What if I make it, but the toilet is a unisex hovel and is situated in the waiting room with a group of gruff people forced to sit at the other side of the door listening to Mr. Rumm’s plops?”
“What if I make it, but…”
I was fairly sure I’d make it. I’m not bad that way, thankfully. But I’m trying to list the thoughts in my head at that moment without mentioning the word ‘smell’. I think I’ve done a good enough job there so I’ll move on.
Had to be done, I decided. Removing my coat, I dove in and did the deed. Say no more.
It’s after 10:30 now. I’m on the road at last, but I’m worried I’m not going to make it. The Test Centre is in Blarney. I know I can get to Tower within 20 minutes or so and Blarney takes a few minutes more, so barring further upset I’m beginning to believe a timely arrival is a possibility.
Just then I look down and see the orange light indicating a lack of petrol. I shake my head and think of that ridiculous-but-fun nail-biting ending to Back to the Future, where anything that can go wrong does. And then some.
I recall Mrs. Rumm telling me it needed filling on the way. That light has been on for a while …but maybe it can make it? I believe there’s a possibility it could …but maybe it will fail the NCT for cutting out mid-test?
I’m behind a slow female driver. No opportunity to over-take. We get to the end of the road. Left is to Blarney. On the right is a petrol station.
The lady in front takes a right. I growl and follow.
Lady in front slowly pulls into the garage ahead of me. I bark and chew the steering wheel.
Lady in front stops at the FIRST pump leaving no place for the car behind to go. On the other side of the pump another car is already being filled so there’s no room there either. Aware I have no time to explode my head and grow another one, I calmly overtake the now-stopped lady and try my hardest to convey my deep disgust without looking a total idiot. She, oblivious, climbs from her car and begins to pump.
It’s already past 10:40 as I exit the filling station. There’s more I could tell you, but you’d be too frustrated. I’m nearly crying now. How had it come to this? It’s not as if I had a busy morning! I was ready I tell you! I was bored I tell you! I wanted to be there earlier. I really did!
Amazingly, my heartbeat began to approach normal levels as I found myself entering Blarney at 10:55. I don’t know how I managed it. It’s not like I had a chance to speed or anything, being behind one slow driver after another -but there I was.
The NCT Centre is at the opposite side of Blarney, but I was fairly sure I’d have some chance to get there on time now. I just had to follow the main road that bypasses the town centre, follow through to the roundabout a mile or so further down the road, then take a left. The Centre is in an estate near there.
So I’m cruising behind a car which is behind another car which is behind a lorry. All four of us take the bypass road and carry on past Blarney and through the other side. I curse the pace, but realise I still have three or four minutes. I breathe a sigh of relief when I realise I will reach the Centre before then. Nothing can stop me now. I’ve made it!!
We approach the roundabout and the lorry turns left. The car behind him turns left. The car behind him turns left. I shake my head once more at the slow pace and turn left.
…There is a slight incline to the road and I gasp in horror as I suddenly realise my mistake -I had turned left before the roundabout, not on it!
“NOOOOOOOOOOO!” I scream aloud, both crying and laughing now as I watch the NCT building itself sail past, over the embankment over my right shoulder. Even in the depths of this pathetic catastrophe I can appreciate the stupidity of the moment. I was so helpless and pent up with anxiety and emotion there was nothing for it but to quickly release the sweat and hissing pressure with some heartfelt tears of pain and laughter.
I’m on my way to Mallow. It’s too busy to turn around. Even if I could, I know there is no turn off to Blarney that would be of any use to me in time.
A mile up the road I spot an entrance to an industrial estate on the opposite side. …I wonder… maybe… just maybe…
Just then I remember Mrs. Rumm’s propensity to run clocks five minutes fast. I don’t know if the one in the car is five minutes fast because my watch is broken for over a year and the radio doesn’t work in this car. But there’s no harm in reigniting the hope flame. Is there?
This is too ridiculous even for Back to the Future, I know, but it’s all true believe me.
I’m being tail-gated so can’t pull in straight away, but after turning a corner and coming to a straight stretch I slow down and pull in. I wait for a lull in the traffic and manage to swing around without too many deaths. I turn into that estate, still none-the-wiser if it’s the same complex or if I have already missed the deadline.
Imagine my joy therefore when I find the NCT Centre before me.
It’s a little after 11 by the clock, but inside as I hand over my details I glance at the clock on the wall and find it winking 10:59 at me. I am Hercules the Mighty. Hear me roar!