On Friday night, in an unusual turn of events, I was working the door at a gig. It was a wonderful night, and I got to bed inappropriately late. Inappropriate, considering that I was due to go to Galway the next morning for standardisation. I have fairly strong feelings on exam standardisation, expressed before in this blog.
When I realised I was going to be in Galway, I thought I’d make a day-trip of it. I know one or two people in Galway (but haven’t seen any of them in ages) and I said I’d get in touch with them and pop in on my day out. Being Connor, I put it off and put it off, and never got in touch with them.
On Saturday morning, I hit the snooze button a few too many times. I eventually dragged myself out of bed. I showered and dressed. I couldn’t find my watch anywhere, and left without it. Remember this detail. It’s important later.
I drove to Galway at a million miles an hour, and was on time for standardisation, which wasn’t anything as bad as usual.
I had decided to visit one of my old friends, let’s call her Apollonia, as a surprise. Not, you understand, because I thought she’d like a surprise, but because I hadn’t been arsed calling in advance. She runs a shop in Galway and I said I’d call in at about 5:30 when she was closing up. It wasn’t even 3:00, so I decided to go for a spin around Connemara. It was as lovely as ever.
I drove into the city at 5:30 and parked in a multi-storey car park. It was cheat day and I hadn’t yet had dinner. I was also running low on petrol, so I went to an ATM machine. I punched in my PIN number. The machine told me that I had entered the number wrong, so I tried again, and again. The machine kept spitting the card back at me, saying I had entered the wrong number. I tried another machine. It said I had entered the wrong number three times. Another machine said the same. I tried to use the card to buy something. It was refused.
Now, this was in no way my fault. There was money in my account. And I didn’t get the number wrong. I’ve had the same PIN number since I first got a job, in Paddy Garibaldi’s Irish-Italian restaurant when I was sixteen.
So, here was my situation. I was in Galway, with about 40 cents. I had a car in a multi-storey car park, due to close in two hours. I’d have to pay to get it out. There was almost no petrol in it. And there are two separate tolls to pay on the Galway-Dublin road.
Could I call into Apollonia, and say “Hey! I’ve seen you twice in the last two years, but I just thought I’d drop by and see if you could loan me €50.”? No, I couldn’t. Because of my trip around Connemara, all the other people who were at the standardisation had long gone. I had no-one to turn to.
Regular readers of the blog will recall that being stuck in the West of Ireland with no money is not a new situation for me. A lot of old, insecure feelings started bubbling up.
I fretted, had a little cry and rang a few friends and my mother to see if anyone had any ideas. My mother’s impulse (being a mother) was to suggest that I drive towards Limerick, and she would too, and we’d meet wherever I ran out of petrol. It was sweet, but my dignity wouldn’t have coped with it.
The first priority was to get the car out of the car park. I went to the security man, explained the situation, and with a nod and a wink, he let me out of the car park for free.
I was now on my way out of Galway with almost no petrol and a mother threatening to drive halfway across the country to rescue me. Now, I have run out of petrol before. Someday, I might tell you all about the time I ran out of petrol on Patrick Street in Cork. Or the time in Lispole. Or the time outside Banbridge on the road to Belfast. Or the time, exactly a week after Banbridge, when I ran out of petrol between Abbeyfeale and Newcastle West.
I decided that I needed petrol more than self-respect, and I rang Apollonia. She didn’t answer her phone. It would have been weird not to leave a message, given that I hadn’t rung her in years.
Internal monologue: I’d better be friendly.
What I said: Hi Apollonia. It’s Connor. From IH. How are you?
Internal monologue: I can’t ask someone for money in a voicemail.
What I said: Ignore this call. Bye.
Internal monologue: That’s a bit weird.
What I said: This is a bit odd.
So the message I left was, “Hi Apollonia. It’s Connor. From IH. How are you? Ignore this call. Bye. This is a bit odd. ”
Needless to say, after a message like that, Apollonia rang me back in seconds.
Apollonia saved me, giving me enough money for petrol and tolls. I drove home. A happy ending.
Incidentally, my ATM card is working again, and Bank of Ireland haven’t been able to provide me with any explanation for my card’s wonky Saturday. I have paid Apollonia back too, in case anyone’s worried.
I was tired when I got home and decided to change into tracksuit bottoms. All day long, I’d had a strange pain in my groin. I put it down to all the exercise I’ve been doing, but as I changed that night, I had a bit of a feel around. Remember me saying that I couldn’t find my watch that morning? It had been lodged in an unmentionable part of my anatomy all day long. I’d obviously been very tired when I got dressed.