Thursday took a weird turn when Julien—occasional garden helper–knocked on the door during our lunchtime and announced to Meredith that the Audi had flat tyre.
Our other car–the dependable 18-year-old Clio–was at that moment in the garage for minor repairs.
We had afternoon plans that required a working car: The Thursday marché bio [organic market] in Castres after a haircut at 4pm; collect the Clio (if ready) from the garagist, then stop by Leclerc supermarché for two more of the nice, light garden chairs they were featuring.
A tightish schedule, but do-able–with a car that works.
“Pneu crevé–oui…” confirmed Julien apologetically, as though it was his fault.
Julien is a one-off.
“Gentil comme tout” [incredibly nice] with long brown hair to the small of his back–a sixties hippie look-alike who smokes Chesterfields and has green fingers.
It gradually came back to me–a moment of concern the day before at the supermarket carpark after we’d bought the nice, light garden chairs.. The back left tyre of the Audi had caught my eye–it looked on the low side.
I meant to check the next morning but forgot–hoping perhaps that I’d been mistaken.
Nope. I was right, it was a flat–une crevaison.
“Arrière pneu gauche crevé,” I explained to the friendly voice at the Audi support centre.
She estimated 45 minutes for the garage mechanic in Castres to arrive.
It was 2.30 pm.
“Shoot!” So inconvenient—just when the other car is in for repairs– and a haircut at 4pm.
Grace under pressure! Yes, yes! I KNOW!
Julien opened the boot and found the small spare wheel ingeniously hidden under the carpet.
Audi provides a little box-pump to inflate it that works by plugging into the cigarette lighter–of course!
“The breakdown truck’ll be here soon–it’s not worth the trouble….”
I went inside trying to reorganize the schedule–with my head about to explode.
Grace, grace, grace–yes, yes, yes.
Soon a low electronic buzzing coming from the driveway attracted me back outside again.
Julien—Gardener Help and now Guardian Angel–was successfully re-inflating the flat tyre with the electric pump.
His can-do spirit (very American)–pas de problème [No problem!].
It was now 2.45 pm.
I was trying to slot this new turn of events into mon planning.
Meredith, in the Julien mode of graceful practicality, rang the tyre-repair place in Castres.
They could take the car in immediately.
Thus I drove the wounded Audi into Castres.
It was a simple puncture.
The repair man, another nice person and graceful with it (of course), handed me the culprit–a little black clou (nail), hand-hammered long ago.
Cost of repair: 30 euros. Completed in 30 minutes.
I arrived for my haircut with punctilious Jerome at 3.58pm.
Meredith gave Julien a bottle of bubbly as a big MERCI!