When the street and traffic lights went out as she was driving to her next appointment city analyst Lucy Jones was not to worried, "There's a Road Chef café just a few hundred yards away I’ll get a bite to eat and phone the client to tell him I’m running late. I can do a bit of re-scheduling, by that time I’m sure the power will be back and things will pick up". Lucy accelerated her Turbo Diesel GTI along the road noting her fuel level was under a ¼ of a tank, I’ll fill up on the motorway later she thought, its cheaper than this place.
“Oh Heck“ Lucy said as she approached the Road Chef, the car park was full and she could see that there was a big queue waiting to be served inside the building.
At that point her world started to unravel, Lucy decided to push on to the motorway services many miles down the road, she estimated she had enough fuel for at least 50 miles so off she went.
Lucy immediately notice how heavy the traffic was as she joined the motorway, she hoped it would not slow her down or delay her further, she was meeting the girls that evening to go for a meal and a show in the Capital.
As Lucy drove on it began to rain and the traffic began to slow, Just to her left she passed a crash involving three vehicles and a mile further on was another crash. Strangely as she watched a policeman taking notes from one of the drivers, she could see over his shoulder the lights of a town in the far distance simply go out. Lucy shuddered and this made her feel cold so she turned up the cars air con to full as she crawled along the motorway in heavy traffic at no more than 15 miles an hour.
Slightly later Lucy estimated she was at least 20 miles short of the service station when the traffic came to a complete halt.
“Grrr” she thought I’ll have to phone both the customers and the girls and tell them I’m stuck in traffic. But when she tried to call them her cell phone could not connect to the network and that worried her even more. Lucy being Lucy often found that when she got stressed she found she needed to use the toilet, and now her tummy was beginning to tell her she needed to go. “I hope this traffic moves soon she thought, I need a wee and I need fuel soon. She noted the fuel gauge was nudging empty and to compound it the rain outside was turning to sleet.
After an hour or more Lucy began to take notice of the vehicles around her, most had turned off their lights and engines to save fuel. She did not switch off her engine because she only had on her business suit and it was getting pretty damn cold outside. Fifteen minutes later the decision was taken away from her when the engine cut out as the remaining fuel was used up. “Oh Knickers now what?” she said to herself. She tried her mobile again but it was still out, so she hopped out of the car and tottered off in her high heels the 500 yards to the roadside emergency phone. As she was walking along she could see that there was lots of vehicles blocking the hard shoulder as well as all the carriageways, she thought to herself “That’s going to make it very hard for the police or garage to reach me when I use the roadside phone” When Lucy arrived at the phone another woman was already trying to make it work. “This is the third phone I have walked to and they are all out, my mobile phone wont work either” she complained.
Lucy turned round and started to head back to her car as she did she noticed more and more people abandoning their cars and trucks and walking off down the road.
She had only walked about a mile in her high heels and already her feet were hurting like hell, plus she was wet and freezing cold from the sleet. She gladly climbed back into the security of her car if just to get out of the wind and sleet, and turned on the radio.
Lucy was horrified by the news coming over the airwaves, riots, looting, crashes, people stranded and the emergency services completely overwhelmed by the amount of incoming calls for help. The radio station she was listening to was fairly distant but it shocked her to hear that many other radio and TV stations were off air because they did not have back up generators or fuel.
Lucy was now cold, wet, hungry and getting afraid, and her bladder was bursting, she had no food nor fuel nor warm clothing, or contact with the outside world. It was dark and very lonely and Lucy at a complete loss what to do.
Suddenly there was a tap on the glass of her car door Lucy nearly wet herself with shock (She was only a few minutes away from having to squat at the side of the road and that would complete her misery and humiliation) Peering through the window was a woman, about 35 years old wearing a parka. Lucy wound down the window about half way. “Are you OK" asked the woman, "Do you need a cup of tea or a bite to eat?” she asked the astounded Lucy.
“I need a wee more than anything” spouted Lucy surprised at herself for her sudden frankness in front of a stranger.
"Well feel free to use the loo in my van" said the smiling woman who introduced herself as Clare “Come with me it’s only to that VW van two cars behind yours” said Clare as she walked back towards her vehicle.
Lucy thought “Well what choice do I have” and quickly abandoned her car and headed after Clare.
Upon reaching Clares vehicle Lucy noted it was a VW like hers but a van not a car, not only that it was the same silver metallic and had the same wheels. “Nice looking van” said Lucy as she caught up with Clare, "thanks" she replied “but I think you will like the inside better” As she opened the sliding door on the side and stepped in with Lucy right behind her.
Lucy was amazed she looked around to see a fully fitted micro kitchen along the side of the van, a full length sofa and what looked like two full length wardrobes at the rear. Clare opened one of the smaller cupboard doors at floor level and pulled out a Porta Potti 165 telling Lucy to help herself while she waited outside.
When Clare came back in she found a wet, cold and bedraggled Lucy with a great look of relief on her face, “My God I was desperate for that, thanks so very much” said Lucy. “No problem” said Clare as she made a pot of tea and knocked up some sausage sandwiches which they both devoured.
Later on after Clare had given Lucy some warm dry cloths to wear she described the contents of the van.
Its my Bug Out Vehicle and every day transport rolled into one said Bev. It does all the things your GTI does and more, Its got air con, plus diesel cab heating, a 174 HP diesel engine, a micro kitchen unit containing two gas rings and a grill, , mini fridge, water tanks, and cutlery and crockery storage, and a gas bottle locker, the kitchen is only 18 inches wide four ft long and 30 inches high. The sofa you are sitting on has storage underneath and it converts into a double bed if I get stranded overnight, there’s a toilet compartment and a wardrobe. I have 12 volt and 240 volt lighting circuits and a propane / diesel heater for the living area, there a mini TV DVD and radio unit in the roof lining and long range fuel tanks underneath. I use it to visit my clients and to go camping with my kids, it’s so much more useful than a simple car or 4x4. My van overall is only 4 inches longer than your car and a few inches wider.
“Please feel free to rest here and watch a DVD with me until the roads are cleared.”
Two days later an army patrol that was bulldozing stranded vehicles aside to clear the road came across Clare and Lucy who by now were the best of friends. After they had been freed to go about their journeys Lucy decided the first thing she wanted to do was to have a long hot bath, and the second was to find out how quick she could part exchange her car for a van. When Clare dropped her off at home she gave her a list of useful items she should buy and keep with her at all times. IE fleece jacket, waterproofs, walking shoes, flashlight, food, water, spare fuel can, light sticks, maps, survival guide etc etc. A suggested EDC kit (Every day Carry Kit) and a suggested BOB (Bug Out Bag) list. Lucy swore to herself to get a van as soon as possible if the opportunity arose