Holiday plans almost ended in tears for Grangemouth’s Emma Muldoon

Finally made it to Lisbon
Finally made it to Lisbon

This time last week we were enjoying a week in Portugal.

Whether we were actually going to make it there was touch and go after our car decided to break down.

We were travelling to Manchester to stay over before catching our Lisbon flight the next morning. We set off just after 2pm. The plan was to be at the hotel for dinner and have the rest of the night to relax.

Things didn’t work out quite as we hoped. As we pulled off to begin our journey, our car suddenly came to a halt. 

The engine was dead. Thankfully, we were still in our street, just a few doors along from our home rather than in the middle of the motorway.

This could not have happened at a more inconvenient time. We had a five-hour car journey and flight to catch. One of our lovely neighbours noticed we were having some trouble and helped Allan push the car over to the side of the street.

Trying to remain calm and positive, I called the RAC and within 25 minutes the roadside mechanic was with us. He quickly diagnosed a problem with the fuel pump and hit us with the bad news that he wouldn’t be able to fix it.

We’ve had problems in the past when our car has been in the garage and it’s never been easy to get a hire car quickly. The standard time for delivery of a wheelchair accessible car is usually around 52 hours.

Panic began to set in at that point. We were against the clock as it was almost the end of the working day for most. After several calls with Motability I was passed to another company.

They deal with arranging hire cars or alternative methods of travel if a hire car is not possible. They wanted to look into whether organising a taxi to take us to Manchester would be a cheaper option. The thought of five hours in a taxi to Manchester was not a pleasant one. 

Time passed while we tried to patiently wait for a positive outcome. Then the phone rang and we heard the words we didn’t want to hear. “We can arrange a hire car but the earliest we can get it out to you will be sometime tomorrow and that’s pushing it.”

I was devastated at the thought of cancelling our trip. I explained tomorrow was no good – I needed it tonight. Then the caller offered to call the branch and ask if it was possible to bring the car out to us that night. Although he believed it was highly unlikely.

The phone rang 20 minutes later and I braced myself for more bad news. The branch manager at the car hire company heard our story and said he couldn’t let us miss our flight. He personally drove the car to us and arrived around 6pm.

It could have been a very different outcome had that particular manager not been on shift. We couldn’t thank him enough for his help and understanding. 

I rely heavily on my wheelchair accessible car. I realise how much I rely on it when it’s in the garage being repaired.

I appreciate on this occasion it worked out and we made our flight but it doesn’t always work like that. On a positive note, Portugal was lovely!