It was never going to be a smooth day, I’d overslept and had too much to squeeze in to too little time.
Middle son had been referred to the orthodontist for corrective braces on his teeth. Our sleepy little country town does not have a resident orthodontist so we drove the 23 miles stuck behind a tractor, 2 lorries, numerous buses on the school run who stopped at each bus stop to load hoards of noisy teenagers. Finally reaching our destination as tomtom pointed out, with 10 minutes to spare.
What tomtom failed to mention was where I could park and where the actual building was. On the third time round the one way system, I did the weak womanly thing, wound down the window and asked some unsuspecting passerby the way. A local; he hadn’t heard of this clinic, by the way the megastore next door has changed its name; we had passed it.
Round again, we found the correctly named megastore, but still no sign of the clinic. The news came on the radio, we were late. Back on to double yellow lines, I called to explain we were lost.
A helpful voice told me not to worry, asked where I was, then directed me to the supermarket car park which I could see. Walk towards town to Waterloo Road; follow it to the bottom where I would find the clinic. I put the car into first and glanced up to check it was clear and spotted the road sign next to me: Waterloo Road.
The clinic was not what I expected. An old converted building but completely modernised and purpose rebuilt inside. Oodles of youngsters in uniforms with mums fussing over them, purple clad nurses rushing out of the many doors and through other doors, all manner of names being called and disappearing with surgeon dressed dentists. It occurred to me that our lateness was not an issue we were on a conveyer belt and took our turn.
Following an x-ray Middle Son was called into the consulting room. She asked him to bite, to open, to close, she had a look at his x-ray and started again all the time dictating to the nurse behind her who was tapping it all into the computer.
Yes he did need braces look, he had too many teeth and they were beginning to overlap. Unfortunately it all came down to measurements and he is a millimetre too straight, therefore they could offer us nothing on the NHS. My brain processed what she was saying and I felt for the chair behind before I swooned in womanly fashion. She kindly told me they would do everything in their power to make it easier for me. They ran their own payment scheme which I could set up and continue even if the treatment finished
Then very sweetly, thankfully I was sitting down, she actually mentioned the figure: £2100.
The next half an hour sort of blurred a bit…. another dentist, this one in an expensive well fitted suit came in to give a second opinion. There was no doubt Middle Son needed braces. Fortunately we were in one of the few counties that really invest in their dentistry, unfortunately the NHS in this county has just been told they need to save £18 million so borderline cases such as Middle Son could not qualify. They did have a great interest free scheme for 12 months if we would like that. Steve the treatment co-ordinator came in to explain how the finances would work and to book us in as soon as possible.
I was not prepared to sign on the dotted line and agree to pay anything without talking to Sexy Sporty Dad who after all will have to bear the brunt of all this as I don’t earn that much a month. I would ring and let them know if I wanted an appointment. No I needed to book everything then so we would not be put back on the list. They were pretty full up anyway. A little pat on the arm as they told me Middle Son could choose his appointment times; they kept special late afternoons and Saturdays for paying clients, not patients. He would send a complete quote with explanation in the post; they have my details.
Reeling from the shock, we left the clinic and popped into the supermarket to grab some food for tea, also a large latte. Before leaving we dashed into the garage and filled my close to empty car with petrol. You know how it is, queueing for ages to get to a pump then the one I got to only had two out of the three nozzles working and would not let me “pay at pump”.
Figures tossing around my head, could I sell my body, as if I would have the nerve and who would pay for it anyway? There was the holiday fund which was empty at the moment but would have nearly enough in 12 months; we couldn’t go away again next year. I checked the pump nearly £50 it will stop soon, wow the price of a litre is really lower here. It clicked and stopped as it registered full, a tiny extra squeeze before the second click.
It was as I went to put the nozzle back into the pump that I became aware, very slowly from the pit of my stomach meandering up through my senses. Green, why was I holding the green pump?
Everything hit me at once: my car uses diesel. Diesel, comes in black. I am holding green. I have just put an entire month’s worth of petrol in my diesel engine. Panic! What shall I do? Instinctively I returned the petrol cap and went to drive away in horror. I saw my phone on the dashboard: Sexy Sporty Dad will know what to do. I dialled his number; before he answered, I realised I was on the garage forecourt. Leaving a bewildered teenager in the car I went into the kiosk to join the queue to pay. Seeing two attendants outside, I caught up with them.
Excuse me, then with my third womanly trait of the day I burst into tears.
They pushed the car to a corner of the forecourt and told me to ring the AA; for which I will be eternally grateful to be a member. Over a terrible line we managed to establish what I had done and how they could help. It would however cost me £280, but, as a member I have discount, only £175 and this did include £12 of free diesel. The next available slot was 3pm and they would call when he was 20 minutes away. I did sign on the dotted line and gave all my details over the phone in that crowded kiosk: privacy was not top of my list of concerns.
I locked the car and left my keys with the attendant. As I retreated, he quietly pulled me over and reminded me that I still needed to pay for the petrol that I had put in the car even though I was not going to use it. Acutely embarrassed I handed him my card.
We spent a long day window shopping and wishing, Middle Son and I. Dejected and fed up because I would not buy anything Middle Son wanted to return to the car. I relented slightly and bought lunch.
We returned to the car to find the AA man had collected the keys and already half emptied my tank. Once empty he added my free £12 of diesel with special cleaning agents.
Then he dropped another bomb shell.
The cleaning agent was very strong and would need diluting. I had to refill the tank to full with diesel this time and when it goes down to half full to fill it up again. Other than that I was good to go.
As I again handed my card back to the attended he said “hope the day gets better”. Oh so do I!
I managed to get home in one piece and as I sat down with a large cup of tea, I realised I felt physically sick, but worse than that I was actually shaking from head to toe.
Two good things happened today; I finished my anti-biotics which means a large glass of wine finally has my name on it tonight. Middle Son is made up at the fact we never managed to get him back in time to attend any of his lessons at school today. I am just glad we didn’t run into a truant officer as we strolled round town, for his sake as well as mine. I did get £12 of free diesel!
After all that, I still need to find £2100