There’s a little back story that will make much more sense of today.
Once upon a time, we were proud owners of a magical device I shall call TomTom. Not just any old navigational device, but a special magically abled version, which knew how high and wide the motorhome was and also how heavy, thereby avoiding low bridges, impossible laneways and very importantly, shoddily built bridges.
We simply told TomTom where we’d like to go, that we’d like to avoid motorways please (all the better to see the pretty countryside) and he faithfully took us there. No maps turned upside down, no difference of opinion on how best to get there, no yelling: just marital harmony. Well at least on the navigational front, anyway 😂 This happy arrangement plodded along harmoniously for 7 years, and there was much rejoicing.
Until one fateful day, on arrival to pick up the motorhome this year actually, when Himself was trying to unlock a gate in the rain having decided to unplug TomTom from the hire car and take him along for the adventure, lest he miss any part of it.
Now gentle readers, in hindsight we see the problem, don’t we? But at the time we were both tired (very long flight from Australia + very long drive to Cornwall on arrival = two tired little possums) and the issue at hand was access: opening the gate and getting to the motorhome, the rain a mere nuisance.
It wasn’t until the next day (the way to our eventual destination that day being a well known path) that TomTom failed to fire up, fell off his mortal coil and went on to push up the daisies. Much gnashing of teeth: no amount of coaxing could bring him back to life.
Our fate set, a replacement was sought. Himself spied a Fancily Abled New Garmin, he of large screen, also cleverly motorhome enabled, with added special features. I shall call this new tool FANG, for ease of reference. Credit card details are entered on line: FANG is yet to be released, and we wait, on back order. 4 – 7 days, they say.
Luckily, my good friend Google comes to the rescue between then and now. Driving becoming a game for two players: one to drive, one to navigate, both on high alert for paths impenetrable to us. Of which there were a surprising number. We worked together well, two control freaks, for once, a team.
And now zoom into the present with me, dear reader, on another rainy day, when we receive news of FANG’s arrival at the place I’ll loosely refer to as “our mail service” in London, more accurately known for their complete inability to fulfill any customer request, no matter how many times it’s asked of them.
An aside here: to ensure that FANG would be held in London and not shipped to Australia, we: changed our account settings to “hold mail” on line, rang not once, but twice, to confirm that the change had been successfully made, and to let them know that a parcel would be arriving, which we would pick up the following day. Once before the order was delivered, and once after. Foolproof this plan was, the office girls assuring us all was set.
And so with FANG delivered and on hold, we bid farewell to our many new squirrelly friends, share a few last treats with them and hit the road. Central London in the rain, in heavy traffic, in a 5 tonne vehicle with only Google to guide us. Good times. It’s painful, slow going, testing Himself’s driving skills, my navigational skills and both of our patience. By the time we get there, nerves are frayed.
There’s nowhere to park of course: heavy traffic, main street and rain. “In you go”, he says “just pop in and pick it up: I’ll wait here.” And so I do, presenting the many forms of identification needed to prove I’m Himself.
The office girls look at me blankly, not quite sure what to do with an actual live customer, where they can’t pretend that the computer’s down. “We rang yesterday”, I say, “about a parcel that arrived. We said we’d pick it up today.” More blank looks.
Eventually one wakes from her coma: “Is this it?” she says pointing to a parcel “we’re just about to mail that out” she says. Naturally this tests my already fragile nerves. Deep breaths. I question why, for the love of God, were they going to mail out said parcel when not only did we suspend all mail outs, but called twice to confirm it and advise of a personal pick up.
The second girl squeaks: “but you have to email us too.” “Oh really”, I counter. Just at what point we you going to tell us that? Clearly not on line, where you make changes to your account, or when you call the first time, nor apparently the second. I tell them, in no uncertain terms, that had they mailed that parcel, that a wrath hitherto unknown would have been unleashed upon them. It occurs to one of them, to correct their error on the computer at this point. No apology mind – their standard operating procedures is that if the computer says to mail it, out it goes. Customer changes on line and phone calls be damned.
Back to the motorhome I traipse. “What took so long”, he says, keen to play with his new toy. But dear readers, are there instructions? No, of course not. Clearly they know that men are their target market. I get us back on the road with Google, now apparently the work of the devil as it takes us up one impenetrable narrow street after another. Himself wants FANG, and he wants it now.
We’re bound for Canterbury, enroute to Dover, fiddly enough to get us out of London, without someone snapping at my heels asking “why haven’t you got it working yet?”. And suggesting that I give it to him, because clearly he doesn’t have enough to do, driving a 5 tonne vehicle in central London, in the rain, in heavy traffic. What’s needed to really add some sparkle is a new electronic device.
I do my best, but despite best attempts, FANG just won’t initiate the set up phase. I suspect it’s because it’s plugged into a vehicle in motion – it’s only accepting default settings that make us too tall, too wide and heavier than we are. A few failed attempts later: “it’s a piece of shit” I declare. “Can you return it?”. This suggestion does not go down well. He suggests it’s my fault: “incompetent set up”, he declares. This from a man who calls for IT help regularly. From me.
Naturally, I lose what’s left of my temper. Seriously, you just don’t push me that far. Not in an enclosed space. I’m deeply resentful of losing the day, him ruining TomTom in the first place, the expense of this new one, being blamed for FANG failing and pretty much everything in a 50 mile radius. Words are exchanged. None of them printable. I’m sure you get the picture.
Eventually we stop, late in the afternoon. Uncoupled from a moving vehicle, FANG sets up perfectly in Himself’s hands. Blithely unaware of the quicksand upon which he stands, he repeats “incompetent set up” rendering me mute with anger. Like all men before him, he mistakes silence for peace, digging his hole even deeper.
We eventually arrive in Canterbury. It’s still raining of course, so there’s no escape from each other. I’m beyond anger, reduced to hissing from a corner. He’s oblivious as to why.
Welcome to long term marriage my friends. A game for two players. Protection and hard hats are recommended.