Yesterday I had one of the most frightening experiences of my life.
I set out from home to drive down to Lisburn and on the usual route, I came across a sign that said ‘Road Closed’ – due to recent flooding. So I turned the car and tried another route. I could see a lot of water on the road, but as there was no sign of the road being closed, and as I could see an elderly gentleman who seemed to have come through from the opposite direction, I assumed it would be OK. Wrong assumption. Lesson 1: never trust appearances (or smiling elderly gentlemen).
I started to drive through the ‘puddle’ (from here on, read ‘lake’) and quickly realised that it was much deeper than it had seemed. But once you’re half-way in, you have to keep going if you’re going to get out. The car engine started to chug and I could see the water splashing up over the bonnet. I really thought the car was going to grind to a halt and I was going to be stuck in the middle of the puddle.
Somehow the car chugged on through to the end and I breathed a sigh of relief. Lesson 2: don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Now I was on dry-ish land – but soon I realised that, although the car was on a slightly raised bridge, and therefore elevated above the level of the water (which was now swirling in alarming waves around me), in every direction there was a similar lake to the one I had just come through. I was marooned.
Lesson 2: always carry your mobile phone with you and always have it charged. I was able to contact my long-suffering husband who, I must admit, did not ask ‘Why on earth did you drive through that puddle?’ (at least not out loud). He in turn contacted a friend who said he could come with his tractor in half an hour. Lesson 3: if you live in the country, make sure you have at least one friend who has a tractor.
So, while I waited, I walked up and down the bridge, took a few pics, and observed the scene around me. Lots of cars, vans, tractors and lorries appeared – most of them turned back. They were more astute than me. Lesson 4: learn from experience and never – ever again – underestimate the depth of a puddle on a road.
But some of them came on through – and most of them kept going! Hardly one stopped to ask (a) how I’d got there or (b) how I was going to get out. I felt more and more like the man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho – he fell among thieves who left him half-dead and, although people passed by, they kept on going (all except the Good Samaritan). Lesson 5: don’t assume friendly faces make friendly people.
But my Good Samaritans arrived, complete with the tractor and a rope, and the car was soon towed to safety.
Meantime, the cows in the fields just continued doing what cows do – they sat in the sun, presumably chewing their cud, and were not remotely interested in the goings-on of a 50-something year old woman who had just been rescued from a nightmare. Lesson 6: why can’t we be like the cows?