Reunited at last! (was: MINI sacrifices itself for me, what a champ)
Before I start, I apologise for this possibly huge post. I just need to vent.
Near where I live in Shropshire is a hill called the Wrekin. You can walk up it. You get a nice view of the surrounding countryside, though it's somewhat spoiled by the M54 snaking its way through as well as the local power station.
Having just walked up the hill, I hopped in my beloved October '02 Cooper (known as Audrey) and headed home. In order to get home, I need to get on the motorway at junction 7. The sliproads from the motorway go downwards to meet another road that passes under the motorway at 90 degrees to it.
I rounded a bend just before where I had to turn off onto the motorway at 50 or so. I don't go any faster, it's fairly blind. My route involved me going under the motorway and then turning right to get back on it, heading East. The time was about 1.30pm and all was well. Audrey had just over 8000 miles on the clock. We had developed a deep bond, she and I. I'm not sure I'd call it "love", per se, but she has enormous emotional value. I have been known to kiss it once or twice (such as when she went in once to get a new sub-dashboard and we had to be apart for a whole night (the pain!)).
Anyway, I was approaching my turning, which was on the far side of the motorway. On my side of the motorway were the sliproads for the west-bound traffic - on and off the motorway. When you come down there, you stop. If it's clear, you go. If not, you stop. Fairly standard stuff.
I noticed a lorry turning right across my bows, to get back on the motorway to head westwards (i.e. opposite direction to my intended route). He had plenty of room to get across, I was a good distance away.
I approached the sliproad off the motorway. Suddenly this Peugeot 406 appeared in my path (for the uninformed, it's a mid-sized family car, similar in size to the Ford Contour (Mondeo in Europe) or a 3-series BMW).
Two thoughts entered my head. "I'm going to have an accident". Then, perhaps unsurprisingly in light of the bond I've got with my MINI, I thought about her, just for a few moments. She was going to be ruined. I was braking from about 40mph at this point, fortunately my reactions were good. However, there just wasn't enough time.
Suddenly the cabin filled with white-coloured smoke from the airbags, which disappeared immediately and were left bedraggled like deflated balloons.. It all smelled very acrid. My glasses went flying. I think the warning indicators activated themselves automatically. Not sure about that. The CD player kept playing. It was playing the soundtrack from Mulholland Drive.
I managed to get out of the car. I couldn't see a thing, my glasses were lost. I managed to get over to the other car to see if the other driver was all right. She was. My car had hit hers on the left hand side, i.e. the passenger side. She was fine, a bit shaken. I yelled at her. "What were you doing? How am I going to pay for this? I've got no job". I promptly apologised! She told me she was watching the lorry that had turned onto the motorway (mentioned above). She wasn't watching where I was coming from.
I went back to Audrey to try and find my glasses. I did think that they'd be broken. Fortunately they weren't. They were caught around the cupholders at the front, at the bottom of the centre console. I turned off the CD player.
Fortunately there was a policeman about 100 yards up the road, and once I had my glasses on, he was there, lights a-flashing (blue, in contrast to my orange hazards). He made sure we were okay. Apart from a pain in my right leg and my face, I was all right. I'm off to the doctor's later on for a check-up.
The policeman tried to move the other car out of the way. We were right in the middle of the road. He did manage to move the Peugeot, but the rear wheel on the left side was stuck. I remember being very pleased, thinking "Ha! Your car's screwed as well!".
My number plate, the chrome bit off the bumper and some other bits were on the road. I stuck them in the boot (trunk). By that point, I'd also phoned my mum who was on her way down. She called my dad, who headed over as well (thank god for attentive parents!).
The policeman tried to move Audrey. She wasn't having any of it. Perhaps she doesn't like anyone moving her apart from me. Wouldn't blame her myself! He tried again but I asked him to stop in case he ruined her further. Fluids from the engine were on the road by that point. The cop did think that my car was on fire! Fortunately it was just from the airbags. The other car's airbags didn't go off.
In terms of damage, the bonnet (hood) had been pushed backwards and upwards by a few inches. The front bumper was toast. It looked like the plastic had started to peel off. You could see a big metal cross member in the bumper. It looked in fairly good condition, though, seeing as there were fluids everywhere, there's internal damage there as well.
The policeman called out the recovery people and we exchanged insurance details. My parents turned up separately and consoled me on my condition. My dad had a look at Audrey. Mum didn't bother.
I got all the stuff out of the car and stuck it on the side of the road. There was a silver plastic disc on the road. The policeman kicked it out of the way. I recovered it. Kick my car, will you?
Eventually the tow truck turned up. The policeman told me that it would be going to Telford, around 3 miles in the other direction. I asked the driver if he would take Audrey to Shrewsbury, around 6 miles the other way, as this was where my dealer was. I'd phoned up the dealer and they said they'd take Audrey if I could persuade the truckie to take her there. Unfortunately it was going to cost around £180 (over $300) to get the MINI taken there, so I let them take her to the pound in Telford.
My dad took me home. I was fairly jumpy, especially at junctions. Time dragged.
Anyway, once I went home, I phoned the insurance people and told them the story. They told me they would take the car to an "approved" bodyshop around 40 miles away. I wasn't particularly happy, but I let it go for the time being.
Next, I got onto MINI Accident Management, who come round to fix your car if it doesn't start and help coordinate the recovery and repair of ill MINIs. I thought I'd better ask them whether what I was doing was the right thing. Anyway, the lady I spoke to said that the garage they were taking Audrey to so that she could be fixed (assuming she's not completely toast) was NOT approved by BMW and that there could be warranty issues. (And, seeing as the car's not legally mine - it's on finance - I felt uneasy not doing the "approved" thing.
Back to the insurers. "BMW said that XXX garage isn't approved. Can I take it to my dealer instead?" "Well, they would say that, as they'll get the £££ for fixing it. And it's not true about the warranty." I insisted that MINI pick up the car and they grudginly accepted. Next, to the pound, where they told me that it would cost £180 (again), to release the car. Rip off!!
So, now beginneth the wait. Obviously they'll need to assess the damage and see if they can repair it (or whether the car will need replacing (then I'd need to think of a new name for it!)). At some point I want to go over and take some photos of the damage and tell Audrey I still love her. Poor baby. She sacrificed herself for me. I am hugely impressed by the strength of that little car. At least now I know that if there's an accident, she'll hold up well and take the hit to preserve my life (cars are replacable, of course, humans aren't). I did cry briefly when she got pulled on to the tow truck and again once I got home. All very traumatic. Sigh.
Anyway, it hasn't been the greatest day of my life. Or Audrey's. Hopefully all will we well in due course. At least it gives me an excuse not to have to look for a new job...
Last edited by Electric Sheep; May 10th, 2004 at 01:53 PM.
Reason: Revised title (again)
Good to hear your allright and at this time that is all that matters, shame about Audrey.
Oh and if you dont mind explaining, or someone else can, my Yankee vocabulary is limited in European slang, what exactly is a Lorry? Oh and one other thing, your not alone today, I got smacked in the rear at a red light, no damage but a pain in the rear nonetheless.
Maybe you have found your new job...... story teller.....you have a knack for setting the scene, my gcse english language classes came back to mind, you would have got commendations for excellent narrative for that post!!!
Here on the other side of the pond we are feeling your pain. Hopefully the BMW "doctors" will be able to get Audry all fixed up good and well as when the 2 of you first met. Glad to hear that you are physicaly ok, though the emotional anguish is rough I know. Keep us posted on Audrys condition and yours!
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