My Weekend Break(downs)

By Arwen Foley

Working beside the AA Rescue Call Centre, you hear all about the woes of Members who find themselves broken down at the side of the road. However, you never really think that you’re going to be at the other end of that phone.

In my 7 years in AA Roadwatch, I’ve only ever had to call them once; for a simple tyre change. That is, until last weekend, which incidentally was my weekend off (I wasn’t even on-call!).

It started on Friday evening before my 6pm traffic report on RTE 1. My other half was on his way to work when his car overheated. He topped it up with coolant but it overheated again so I organised an appointment for one of our guys to come out and have a look on Sunday morning.

On Saturday, my sister, my Dad and I were on our way into the city in my car, when I noticed the temperature dial start to go up and up, and very quickly it reached the max. After pulling into the nearest garage, I made contact with my Rescue colleagues for the second time in two days.

Now, if like my Dad you’re thinking ‘these guys haven’t been looking after their cars’ then you’d be wrong. In Roadwatch, we’re forever telling people to check their cars regularly to make sure they’re road-ready and I believe in practising what you preach.

I know for example that car supply shops often have sales on their winter stock during the summer months. So in August, I forced my rather begrudging, shorts and flip-flops clad fella into our local Halfords to stock up on everything needed for the winter for both cars.

On our shopping list was coolant (pre-mixed with anti-freeze), motor oil, light bulbs and de-icer (and lots of it). We also bought new window wipers for each car; they need to be replaced every year. On the way home we stopped in the petrol station and diligently topped up the coolant, oil and water reservoirs, replaced the wipers, checked our car lights, boosted the tyre pressure and checked the tread depth.

So in all, if we had been attending the AA School for Car Owners, we’d be driving away with gold stars and a lollipop for being the best in class. The thing is, sometimes you can’t prevent car problems. Wear and tear will always be a factor. Our cars are the same age and both are used very often.

While his car ended up being a quick fix outside our home, my own car needed a bit more TLC. The initial visit by our Rescue Patrol showed up a problem with the water pump which meant my car needed to be towed to my garage so they could take the heart and lungs out, patch them up and put them back. With my garage closed for the weekend, it meant a tow home and then a return visit on Monday by our hero in the yellow van to finish off the job.

I think I’ve always taken my Rescue Membership for granted but I never will again. What could have been an extremely costly and time-consuming weekend was made a whole lot easier on the pocket and my patience by my Rescue colleagues.