Good People Exist: A tale of loss, hope and BAFTA success.

This is a tale of panic and desperation, of friendship and longing, and of joy and love. Ultimately, this is a tale of hope. (It’s also a tale of how really bad the RAC’s promises are, but how good its staff are.)

From Monday to Wednesday I present an evening news programme across Nottinghamshire. On Wednesday night, after finishing at 7, I walked to my car, went to pull out my keys and… they’d gone!

And so began an evening of anxious searching. 

I re-traced my steps, crawled around the TV studio floor, asked the site management team to re-open the office, and went to the live venue over the road to see if the bar manager had seen them. They hadn’t. 

Fortunately I have the Ultimate Breakdown cover with the RAC. This includes: Roadside + Home rescue; Unlimited tow. Now, this may be a boring detail, but it’s a vital piece of information because my house is a fair commute away from the studio.

As I awaited the patrol to pick me up like Richard Gere in an Officer and a Gentleman and take me home, at 10pm on Wednesday night, after an estimated arrival time of just after 9, the patrol person called to say they were cancelling the job. Apparently because the keys were missing, it wasn’t a breakdown. I should have called the key replacement line at 7pm.

(Okay, even I realise this is a bit boring now so I’ll fast forward.)

The venue over the road from work was closing at 11. A few minutes before that, the RAC key people took my details and put me through to the mobile locksmith.

Phew! I was going home to my fiancee and children. 

🗝️”Thanks for your details, Mr Booth,” they said, cheerfully. “We’ll call you to arrange a time in the morning.”

In the morning!?!? But, but, but… where would I go? The venue lights were being switched off. I was stranded on the dark Nottingham streets.

Fortunately my ex-flatmate was up and he let me stay in return for wine and Doritos. (We watched Bottom and The Fast Show and drank wine until 2am. Win number 1.)

On Thursday morning I returned to work to sit in the TV studio and make arrangements that went like this:

🔑Locksmith: “We can help you, not a problem. Although we can’t get to you until tomorrow…”

🟠RAC: “We can tow you.”

ME: “Oh thank you. At last, thank you.”

RAC: “It’ll cost you £350 because missing keys are human error.”

ME: “What if they’ve been stolen?”

RAC: *Pause* “Just let me pop you on hold…..”

📳 (The RAC hold is a news information service. No “Angels” by Robbie here.)

RAC: “Hello, Mr Booth. We have organised a hire car to get you home and then bring you back tomorrow for the locksmith.”

🚗CAR HIRE: “Eeh, that’s a nightmare, duck. We can help you out… but we haven’t got anything until tomorrow at 5pm.”

(Thanks for sticking this far, because THIS is where things ramp up and is probably the interesting bit I could have shortened all this down to.)

I decided to get the train home, have hugs from my fiancée and children, and then train back in again on Friday. 

Before I went to the train station, my partner had persuaded me to go to the police station to see whether someone had handed in my car/house/Shedio keys and, of equal importance, my Tesco Clubcard.

As I left work, I thought I’d go to have one last tracing of steps from work to my car. Pointless really, given that I remember having my keys at work. 

EXCEPT IT WASN’T!

Because under my windscreen wiper was a note:

“Call 0115 XXX XXXX between 8am & 7pm”

I called. A man answered. 

😟”Hello, I’ve found your note on my Vauxhall Zafira.” (Tell me you’re part of the sandwich generation without telling me you’re part of the sandwich generation.)

🦸 “Have you lost some keys?”

🙏”I have. I HAVE lost some keys…”

🦸”Can you describe them?”

(I did.)

🦸 “I’ll meet you by the car in a minute.”

😃”Do you accept hugs?!?!”

🦸”….”

Now, not all heroes wear capes BUT one of them is called Carl.

I shook Carl’s hand. I told Carl the very story I’ve typed here. That’s why I’m surprised you’re still reading because Carl had to go back to his office pretty quickly at that point. (Presumably because he had visions of me clinging to his leg like a koala to a tree.)

Carl explained that he’d found my keys on the pavement and had walked along the street blipping the button until a car flashed and unlocked. My car.

I. Was. Elated!

Not only that Carl had found my keys, but also because of the fact Carl was not a joyrider. Lucky, really.

I ran back to work. I told, Jo, the receptionist. I ran up to the Notts TV office and told everyone there. I ran to the bar next to the studio (I know!) I called my fiancee. I called my parents and they didn’t even know I’d lost my keys.

I was like a toddler after a bag of candy floss. What a journey. Speaking of which, it was time to finally go home. 

As I was leaving, the actress Vicky McClure MBE was coming into the building.

VM: “Hiya.”

ME: “Hi Vicky. How are you?”

VM: “I’m good, cheers. How are you?”

And that was the point that I regaled the entire story you’ve (possibly) just read to a BAFTA winning actor who wore exactly the same expression as SuperCarl had done just moments earlier.

Which is why I am sharing the whole thing with you now. Because one Sunday night when you’re watching a BBC drama set in Nottingham starring Vicky McClure as an apologetic RAC call operator, you can say:

“Oh yes, I remember reading about this. What’s on the other side?”

(ADD. The RAC’s phone operators and patrol people are brilliant. They’re lovely, they’re helpful, they read the situation. They’re the only reason I am still with the RAC because as a company what they promise, and what they deliver are two very different things. The RAC need to #BeMoreCarl.)

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