Lucky Escape

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
After a luck escape on one hand, Henry remembers another!

Submitted: October 21, 2016

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Submitted: October 21, 2016



Henry’s daughter-in-law had a lucky escape while backing into a carpark recently! She lost steering because of a hydraulic fluid leak in the power steering. She had to face the problem of reorganising transport for her daughter to get to ballet lessons and for the repairs, as well as the time without her car! Mind you, it was not half as troublesome as losing steering on the motorway she had been traveling on the day before!

It all took Henry back to when a dizzy redhead was the field rep at the Agency for a short time. Thinking back, ‘dizzy’ probably is not the appropriate word, but it will do for now. There was plenty of pre-history to the tale, but suffice to say, among the local men she took up with, was a guy who owned a small safari company and ‘could carry out mechanical work’. He didn’t do the work himself but farmed it out to ‘backyard boys’ who Henry wouldn’t take a wheelbarrow to for repairs!  Anyway, Redhead let her hormones get in the way of good sense and did away with a very good mechanical service Henry used, in favour of Safari-joe and his cronies! The worst thing as far as Henry and his contemporaries were concerned was that Redhead was overpaying Safari-joe whopping amounts of hard-won funds! None of them were concerned about her man-hopping, they all knew that she feigned being secretive about it while really wanting everyone to know!

Henry’s vehicle was in need of a service and because he was busy with his assignment, he had difficulty scheduling a day to get the work done. One Sunday, he received a message that a funeral was occurring at the village he had programmed for a seminar, so there was no point going out there. With a spare day, and as he had jobs in town to be done, he headed to Redhead’s house to ask her to organise Safari-joe to carry out the service. Redhead had had a fright at her house which was near to where Henry lived, so she shifted to town to live in an expensive house with huge steel gates and when Henry arrived they were locked shut! He peered through the gap between the gates and could see her vehicle there, so assumed she must be home, so he banged on the gate to attract her attention. He banged number of times!

He took some paper from his clipboard and wrote a note to Redhead, but there was nowhere appropriate to put it, so he climbed the gate with the intention of putting the note somewhere obvious. Talk about somewhere obvious! That’s exactly where Redhead and Safari-joe where doing what comes naturally in the procreation game! Henry backed off as quietly as possible but he had been seen and there was scurrying for clothes like during the Boxing Day sales! Poor old Henry was given a right dressing down about breaking in and infringing on privacy, plus a few savoury words more suited to a septic tank flusher! The upshot of all that was an instruction was issued to all and sundry that when the gate is locked, nobody is welcome!

Anyway Henry had been abused by experts, so was not particularly phased by what he had seen or the reaction to it! The next day he took his vehicle, spent the day in town and at the end of the day he called at the Agency office to collect it and again face some wrath from Redhead. Old Safari-joe was there too, and Henry became embarrassed when she asked Safari-joe the price of the service,  the stupid woman coughed up over double – blatantly! Don’t worry Safari-joe would have already put on a whopping mark-up! Henry noticed the odd look between them!

He drove home and the next morning he had an early start. He drove out the gate, turned the ninety degree corner to head down to the main road. Thirty metres down the track there is a waste water channel from the school covered with a few slabs of timber. No matter how slow he took the bump, it always still bumped, and it did again! And then his steering was gone! He hopped out and looked underneath the vehicle and found the right-hand tie-rod-end had popped out!

A tie-rod or in the UK track rod, is part of the steering mechanism that joins the steering column to the wheel, the end bit is high tensile for pushing the wheel one way and pulling it the other or holding it straight on. The ends usually don’t come off otherwise there would be a lot more crashes on the road! What holds them in place is a nut with small gaps where a split-pin goes through to stop the nut from undoing.

Henry remembered the look shared between Redhead and Safari-joe, he couldn’t find the locking nut or split-pin but he did find some twine to tie the end onto the wheel and then quietly drove home. He and Mbise carried out a search for the nut but to no avail, so into town Henry went on the daladala. He was curious to see the reaction on Redhair’s face when he strode into her office! He wasn’t disappointed. He told her what had happened, as if she didn’t know, and he simply asked her to organise Safari-joe to fetch a nut and split-pin and to give him a lift home to make the repair. Old Safari-joe was fairly uncomfortable throughout the journey and Henry kept quiet just to make the air a bit thicker!

After that, Henry carried out a thorough check after every service! But what could have happened? The split-pin wore out and the nut gradually undid – that is a basic thing to look for during a service but remember, Henry wouldn’t take his wheelbarrow to those boys! On purpose, the split-pin could have been tremoved, but it would have taken an uncalculatable time for the nut to come off - it could even have stayed on. Or on purpose, the split-pin could have been removed and the nut removed or loosened. It seemed to Henry that he was lucky during the twenty five kilometre journey from town, which was on seal, that the tie-rod-end didn’t pop off while he was travelling at one hundred kilometres per hour!

Henry kept mum about the incident, but he knew that they knew – what would you have done?

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