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Welcome to the United Kingdom - The Cover Story
October 2013
Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 12:38 pm
Welcome to the United Kingdom

Oh my goodness, so much has happened. I left for the UK on Sunday night. It was nice to fly a 777 -- they're far more comfortable than the 767's I'm normally on. I was able to take a series of half-hour naps, and they served us two meals, both of which were of surprisingly good quality. I touched down at Heathrow around 0600 on Monday morning.

Good lord, the Passport Control line was the place to be. I spent over an hour making my way to the front of the line so I could get the Queen's blessing to enter Her Majesty's Country. Off to Avis, and the first great adventure of my stay: Driving! I got to the rental facility and went to my spot. They has a very nice VW Passat with a manual transmission. Oh, no. I'm not driving a stick after a seven hour red-eye with the wrong hand on the wrong side of the road. I get an Automatic, and off I go, straight into one of the busiest parts of London traffic -- Heathrow International Airport on monday morning. I make my way out to the A4, and pull in behind a Highway Maintenance truck. Splendid. As I'm heading down the A4, something falls off the back of the truck. SOUND EMERGENCY MANEUVER ALARM! Brakes! Check left mirror -- Crash barriers. Check right mirror -- traffic passing me in the speed lane. Speed check -- not enough, we're gonna hit it. I edge to the left side of the road to try to make whatever it was pass below me, but to no avail. I still don't know it I hit the large metal object or the curb, but a tremendous sound emminated from the left forward wheel well. The kind of sound that indicates you may have committed a serious error. I experienced a tension I hadn't felt since a particular instance on Tyson Street with sirroxton -- the question of "Does my car still work?" About three seconds later, the car's computer sounded an alarm, and a picture of a flat tire and a diagram of the car with a large arrow pointing at my forward left wheel appeared, indicated that I was, in fact, screwed.

One issue with the A4 in Heathrow -- there's nowhere to pull over. A light was coming up, so I made a hard left, hoping to pull off the road on a side street. No luck, I hit a roundabout. I entered the roundabout, took the first available exit, and went down the road. By this time, somebody was along side me telling me I had a flat. Thanks. I search around, now entering the main Roundabout entering Heathrow. Now having driven almost a quarter mile on a flat, I pull up on one of the islands in the entry to the roundabout at the intersection of the A4 and the M4. Off the road, parked, engine off.

Now what?

My cell phone doesn't work over here, so I couldn't call for help directly. Given that restriction, I did what millions before we with a flat tire have done -- started walking. I collected all the rental data, and crossed four lanes of highway traffic to get to the Parking Inn, where I was able to get a payphone to call Avis Roadside Support. Forty-five minutes later I was back at my car with a jovial British man with a repair van fitting the replacement wheel on my car (interestingly, the car had a spare tire, but no jack). He discussed with me at great length his canoe trip down the Colorado when he was 12 as he replaced my tire. I thanked him gratefully, and once again took to the streets of Britain.

I continued on down the road to find that the Courtyard Marriott that the nice lady at Avis had directed me to was, in fact, a conventional Marriott. Fortunately, the consigere inside was able to direct me to my destination, and soon I was driving at upwards of 50 mph down the M4 to meet my colleagues. Around 0945 I finally reached the Courtyard, to find that the third person of our company had suffered a two hour delay at Dallas and I did, in fact, still have some time left to me to check in, shower, and calm down a bit.

Off I went to my room to do just that. Within two hours our last man had arrived, and we set out for the client site. Our directions told us to use the M4, but the hotel clerk insisted that it was much safer for people of our familiarity with the area to take the A4, the local highway. It turns out that this is like telling somebody driving from Boston to Providence to take Route 1 instead of I-95 -- you'll get there, but it will take several times longer.

We reached the client site to prepare the class I was supposed to teach the next day, to discover that their IT department wouldn't allow us to plug our server into their network, nor would they let us break off their machines onto our network. So how were we to teach a class when we couldn't use our training server? That answer and its consequences when next I get a chance to post....

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Current Location: Maidenhead, England, UK


Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 12:13 pm (UTC)

i think murphy's law originated in the UK, no?

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC)

Amazing what clicking on the first link google gives you will do: http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-true.html

However given the events described it certainly would've been appropriate if it had.

ReplyThread Parent
Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC)

This was an exciting adventure to read!

...Don't die!

Adam Augusta
Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)

Man, did you ever read that sadistic Choose-Your-Own Adventure book in which there was no link to the victory page? [/Depressing_Life_Commentary]

Hang in there, John. :)

ReplyThread Parent
Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)

Just think of all the dice karma you'll have when you get back. Besides, the adventures are why live life.