A breakdown that restored my sanity

Through the RAC I came in contact with the closest thing to a saint I think I ever will

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Just occasionally, something happens that completely restores one's faith in human nature, and that leads us to believe that we are in the hands of a benevolent deity. When you wake up and the first thing you hear is that the country has swung towards the Monster Raving Independence Party, or the latest news that a television personality from the golden days of your youth turns out to be a serial paedophile, it's easy to feel a little depressed about the world. And that's without even thinking about the possibility of a triple dip recession.

So the morning hadn't dawned too auspiciously when I did something I'd never done before. I locked my car key in the boot of the car.  I do not have the sort of temperament or practical skills that would be of any use at all in such circumstances. My response to hearing that fateful click of the centralised locking system was to bury my head in my hands and start weeping gently.

It was made worse by the fact that I was accompanied by an equally useless friend of mine, an actor, and it was his belongings I'd locked in the boot, along, naturellement, with my key. We simply had no clue what to do, apart from curse our luck, the world, and - in his case - me.

We flagged down a police car, but they were unable, or unwilling, to help us. We looked for a working man, hoping someone might have an idea about how to get into the boot of a Volkswagen without a key, but all we found were two men consumed by playing a high-risk game of catch with pieces of scaffolding. I am not a member of a breakdown service, but I rang the RAC, and it was at this point that the momentum of our day began to change.

I got through to a young lady called Rachel, who is the closest thing to a saint I am ever likely to encounter in this life. I explained that, although I was not, technically, a member of the RAC, I would be willing to join in perpetuity if she could help sort this mess out. She responded to my frantic discourse in calm, measured tones, and reassured me that she was sure the problem could be resolved: she just had to locate a breakdown man. (I resisted the temptation to tell her that I was the man having the breakdown.)

In no more than 15 minutes, the man from the RAC arrived. He told us to look away while he used his secret box of implements to open the car door - “You can watch me,” he said, “but I'll have to kill you afterwards.” In a matter of minutes, he was in through the door, and had pulled down the back seats to retrieve the key, stopping only to get a picture of himself with my friend.

There will doubtless by many of you reading this and thinking: “Duh... of course that's what you do”. But to us, two clueless, pathetic men, it was nothing short of a miracle. And something that made us glad to be alive this holiday weekend.

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