One day last week I woke up slightly bonkers: a stranger to myself. I couldn’t think consecutive thoughts. Even my vision was blurred. I get days like that now and again. Perhaps I’m allergic to something.
Downstairs on the kitchen table I found a note I’d written the night before, reminding me to take the car to the local main dealer by 9.30. The car had been referred there by the manufacturer in order for them to replace (free of charge) a potentially faulty motor in one of the adjustable side mirrors. I looked at the clock. It was 10.00. I was mortified. I picked up the phone, rang the dealership and delivered an abject apology. The receptionist laughed. ‘Don’t worry!’ she said. ‘If you bring it in any time before midday, that’ll be fine.’
I drove to the garage beset by small fears. I was anxious, for example, that because I’d missed my appointment, I’d walk into the workshop to let the mechanics know I’d arrived and be completely ignored. It’s happened to me before. Going from one busy mechanic to another, saying ‘Hello, I’m here!’ is futile. You just have to stand there like a third attendant in a Jacobean tragedy until finally someone wanders over and casually asks you if you’re the Renault Scenic.
But the dealership turned out to have a smart new showroom full of smiling, helpful people, including some whose specific job was to mediate between the customer needing a motor changed and the workshop. As soon as I arrived a message was telephoned to the workshop and a mechanic with pressed overalls and a tie came out to greet me.
We shook hands. The mechanic looked frankly and appraisingly into my eyes.