How was your weekend? Mine was…interesting. DJ went to Wales to visit his Mum and yours truly was left to her own devices. I didn’t think there was too much mischief I could get into, but that was my first mistake.
With the economic uncertainty hitting my line of work, I’m on a drive to be ultra-frugal and find cheap ways to entertain myself. So is an old school friend who is jobless, so we had a great frugal day at her home on Saturday having a delicious home-cooked lunch and a good old chinwag.
On Sunday afternoon I decided to visit a lady I know who’s had a heart operation. Knowing how expensive hospital car parks can be, I checked the charges on the internet first and found I could park for free for 45 minutes but after that I would be charged £3. Ouch. It would have to be a quick visit. There is campaign afoot to axe hospital car parking fees altogether – as they plan to do in Scotland – after criticism of how much trusts were making from car parking. But currently there is a £3 a day cap on charges. Still I don’t know how people who have to visit the hospital regularly cope with the expense, not to mention the hassle when they may be very sick themselves or worrying about their loved ones.
Fortunately my lady was feeling a lot better and about to go home. After half an hour I made my excuses and left, ensuring I could escape from the car park for free. I got into the car and turned the engine on but remembered I’d forgotten to get my ticket validated. I turned off the engine and rushed to the machine. Hooray – I was in time and wouldn’t have to pay! I raced back to the Micra.
Disaster struck. It wouldn’t start. It wasn’t the car but these stupid electronic keys we have. To turn the engine on you put your foot on the brake and turn a switch but the key has to be on you and working. For some reason it would let me in the car but wouldn’t let me switch the engine on. The battery must have been on the blink. I tried every trick I could think of but nothing would budge it. I even got in and out of the car, locking and unlocking it to see if that would spark it into life. Nothing.
In the dark deserted car park I began to panic. What could I do? I couldn’t leave the car there – the hospital is in the middle of nowhere, miles from home and overnight I had no idea how much the fees would rack up to be. Maybe I would be charged extra to release it, too. I had no idea. My grocery shopping was in the boot – at least it was too cold for it to spoil. I went into the cardiac unit reception to get help, but it was deserted too.
On the verge of tears I rang DJ. As luck would have it, he was on his way home – only an hour away. AND by some miracle he had his car key. He calmed me down, telling me he would come and try to start the car. I prayed his key would work and we wouldn’t have to call the RAC recovery vehicle out. Sensibly DJ told me to speak to a car park attendant and explain what had happened. I got through to security at the hospital on my mobile – thank God for these things – and they kindly said I could speak to them through the intercom at the barrier and they would lift it for me without charge.
Eventually DJ turned up and the engine sprung into life. I have never been so glad to see anybody in my life! And luckily the car park ticket worked and we got out without having to speak to security. What a relief. I dread to think what would have happened if his key hadn’t worked or he’d been away longer. Although I checked later and found out it would have cost me £6 to leave the car there overnight, which wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Have you been stuck in a car park and had to pay extra fees? Do you think hospital car park charges are fair? Leave a comment and let me know.
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