Back in June, prior to departing to the Lake District for a holiday, I discovered that the tyres on my car were coming to the end of their safe life, so I bought four new ones which I felt was a good idea bearing in mind the travelling I was about to do.
Saturday, half way through my holiday, found me negotiating the infamous "Hardknott Pass", which links two of the Lake District Dales. It's not for the faint-hearted and although I safely made my way to the summit, on the way back down I misjudged a bend and ripped open one of my brand new tyres on a piece of Cumbrian granite. The following day saw a visit to Workington for a replacement.
This morning I was doing nothing more outlandish than heading to Horsham for a bit of shopping. I'm feeling better after what has been a difficult few weeks of colds and vaccination reactions and was really looking forward to a browse around the shops.
Driving along a country lane I've driven many times before, and keeping to my side of the road in order to avoid an oncoming vehicle, I suddenly found where the local council had been trimming their highways budget. A whole chunk of tarmac about six feet long and one foot wide was missing. My front near-side wheel went into this and the serrated edge of the remaining tarmac ripped it open. It went off with such a bang that some golfers from the nearby golf course came over to make sure I was okay.
I was fine but sadly the same could not be said for the tyre. So out of the four new tyres in June, only two now survive. That's after about 3000 miles on the clock.
But my difficulties were just beginning. Having assured the golfers that I would be okay, I quickly discovered the realities of the modern air-powered nut spinners that these tyre shops use. Back in June, it had been a close run thing as to whether or not I could actually change the tyre as the damn things were on so tight it took all I could muster to shift them. Now, back in the homelands of West Sussex, it proved impossible. What was worse I was starting to damage the looking wheel bolts key. So, I had to do something I've never done in over 45 years of driving – I called the AA…….
Thankfully I was in a spot where there was some mobile coverage (you wouldn't believe the dead spots we have around here and so close to major towns). Of course I had to deal with the (sadly) expected misgendering on the phone. Having given my name and membership number, the operator asked who I he actually was speaking to. This is the usual reaction when the voice doesn't meet their perceptions of what it should be. I wasn't in the mood for this and so promptly told him he WAS speaking to Mrs Grove, even if my voice didn't match his expectations. He seemed to accept that well and the rest of the call proceeded okay until I got the “Thank you Sir” at the end. I just replied “MADAM!” and got an apology.
Having been given a lead time of 90 minutes it was good to see the breakdown van turn up in half that time. I really didn't think he was going to be able to crack the key problem and I had visions of seeing my car being taken home on the back of a breakdown vehicle. But he persevered and in the end I'm not sure who was the more relieved when the awkward bolt finally moved. From then it was a quick job to fit the spare tyre, do the paperwork and be on my way.
Sadly though, the day was over as far as shopping was concerned. The priority was to get a replacement tyre and that took up was little time I had left. Then of course there is the matter of sorting out a claim against the council. I'm not letting this go and made sure I took photos of the damaged road and my ruined tyre. I've also got to sort out what to do about the remaining locking wheel bolts. The priority is to free off all the wheel bolts on the car and do them up to a level where I know I’ll be able to undo them. Then there is the matter of deciding whether or notto keep the locking wheel bolts. I've had problems in the past with the key failing and causing trouble. I can’t help feeling there must be a more reliable alternative.
|The damage to the tyre.|
As well as the main cut near the rim,
There is a smaller one above the lettering.
Both would have been fatal to the tyre.
|The Offending Road Damage.|
The photo doesn't give the full impression
of how deep the rut is.
In fact it was about six inches deep and
I felt the car fall into it before the tyre burst.
My stranded car is at the top of the photo.
When, as a transitioning woman, you find yourself in situations that are new and something you’re not used to, it can be rather intimidating. Today was full of such events and gives you cause to consider how it went and more importantly, how you yourself coped. The situation with the AA calls centre I've already mentioned and I was happy with my reaction. I've reached the situation now when at the slightest sign of confusion or misgendering I tell them firmly who I am, even if my voice doesn't match their expectations. That usually does the trick. But it can be wearing.
The AA mechanic who attended the call was no problem. However, as we conversed I was left with the impression the he was talking to me as if to a man. Perhaps that was just me and in the end it’s difficult to know how to react, so long as there is no obvious misgendering.
At the tyre shop again, I was treated well. When it came to paying I was shown the computer screen with both my old and new identities on it and nicely asked to confirm which one I wished to use.
The most interesting about today was that it confirmed in me that I can deal with a wide range of situations. I've been aware of this as the first year of my transition has proceeded and today confirmed this. It’s been a bad year in many respects, at a time when it should have been the complete opposite. In fact it’s been rather draining and left me with many fears for the future.
There are times when in my darkest moments I think of giving up the whole thing. It's not a realistic reaction I know, but at times it's hard to deal with. I just wish I could re-kindle that feeling of optimism I enjoyed when I set out on this path.