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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just in case you guy's can't be bothered to read the full thing.

Here is the post, cut down a little. You should ALL read this....


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"We’re taking a break in a motorway services, halfway down Spain. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and all is well. We finish our coffee and head back to our trusty vehicle; parked in the shade. ......

A mile down the road, the steering wheel gives a sudden sharp lurch to the right and I pull onto the hard shoulder. Climbing out, I see the problem at once: the offside rear tyre is as flat as the proverbial pancake. It had deflated instantly and the reason is easy enough to spot – an inch-wide cut on the sidewall of the tyre.

I mutter about the situation for a moment or two and we bale out and stand out of harm’s way on the grass verge.

I don my fluorescent jacket – a legal requirement hereabouts – and set out my warning triangle, also required. It’s hot. It’s three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon and every sensible Spaniard is still tucking into lunch. In common with just about every motorhome owner we’ve ever met, we don’t have a spare wheel. Weight, size, somewhere to put the wretched thing: so many reasons not to have one and they all appear feeble excuses at a time like this.

A small white car, Portuguese number plates, pulls up in front of me and a swarthy man leaps out, chattering away in a language in which I have no facility at all. He’s wearing a yellow jacket, like me, and I imagine he’s a roving breakdown service for a moment. But, if so, why the foreign-registered car?

My new friend takes me by the arm and gesticulates back the way we’ve come.

‘You must go back to the Services. There is an SOS station there’ appears to be the gist of what he’s saying.

The van’s going nowhere. That’s obvious and I say so.

‘No, you must walk back and report this. Both of you.’

I feel the first twinge of concern. Not at what he says as there’s some validity to it, but at the emphasis of his manner.

‘I’ll stay here. Look after your van.’

Aha! I understand from his gestures what he’s saying and I’m not at all happy with it. I shake my head and mime making a telephone call at which his grip on my arm tightens and he becomes agitated.

My wife often tells me I’m reluctant to see the good in people. A working life spent in the company of people with lying as part of their DNA will do that to you. This could be a good Samaritan helping strangers as an act of kindness. Alternatively, he could be something very different. I shrug off his grip on my arm which has been irking me for long enough.

‘We’re okay,’ I say. In English, French and Spanish. He understands, but gesticulated furiously that I must leave my van and walk back to the Services. I shake my head and he grabs my arm again. There are aspects of behaviour, reactions to certain actions, that become ingrained in one’s character and being man-handled by strangers is one of those triggers for me. I take his forearm and squeeze it, turning to look him in the eye, and remove his hand from my arm. He hisses between his teeth and makes a very un-Samaritan comment. I don’t understand the words, but their meaning is clear enough. He opens his jacket, shows me a knife tucked in his belt and that old inbuilt reaction kicks into action straight away. An instant later we’re on the gravel verge with my knee on his chest and the knife far out of reach in the grass.

I climb to my feet and leave him there. He’s not agitated now, but resigned. Certainly not acting in the way I’d expect an innocent helper of stranded motorists to behave. I feel vindicated, which is a relief as I’d not given any thought to my actions. The sight of the knife had been enough for me. The rest was instinct, drawn from twenty years of street fighting.

We rang the Police, described our situation, and waited. My wife removed the ignition keys from the car next to us and I pocketed them. The man on the ground tried to rise and I put my foot back on his chest until he subsided.

The police car turned up twenty minutes later. Two officers in smart uniforms and mirrored sunglasses, both smoking cigarettes; the epitome of cool.

I explained the situation as best I could. I speak Spanish, but am rusty. That’s being generous, but they understood me. One officer cuffed the man on the floor and placed him, not particularly gently, in the back of their car.

The other officer had been looking carefully at my rear tyre.

‘A knife,’ he said. I retrieved the knife I’d taken from the swarthy man now sitting in the police car with a resigned expression on his face. The policeman pushed it into the sidewall of the tyre and it exactly fitted the cut.

‘This was supposed to have caused a puncture before you left the Service Station, he said. ‘He will have friends there. They come to help and rob you at knifepoint. This one here’ – he indicated the man in the car – was sent to persuade you to leave your vehicle here and return on foot. When you left, he and his friends would rob you.’ He looked at me and called across to his colleague something I didn’t catch. The other officer laughed and came over.

‘You’re a big man,’ he said. ‘Perhaps he didn’t want to risk threatening you in case you attacked him.’ Both policemen laughed and clapped me on the shoulders. Obviously the ‘have a go’ reaction of a potential victim has a degree of support amongst the constabulary.

We made written statements while waiting for a ‘grua’ to load my van and take us to the nearest town. I explained we were travelling and would be difficult to locate, but it didn’t appear to be a problem. The man in custody was known to them as part of a gang who’d been pulling this scam for months.

When the grua arrived, the police left us. The taciturn driver uploaded the van onto his flatbed recovery truck and took us to a tyre fitter in the nearest town.

Naturally, the correct tyre wasn’t in stock and by now it was late afternoon. Saturday afternoon. The option of having two new tyres fitted, thus complying with the legal requirement to have identical tyres on the same axle was not possible either. Stocks were low.

Just as we were contemplating spending the weekend on the garage forecourt, a tyre was located. A scruffy article, too narrow and bearing a maker’s name I’d never heard of, but the only one that fitted the wheel rim.

‘We’ll take it,’ I said and twenty minutes later we were on our way. Denia was an hour away and with care we got there safely. We had to wait until Monday for a replacement tyre. ‘Manana,’ the mechanic said. Tomorrow.

That was Monday. It’s Thursday now. Still no tyre. ‘Manana’ the man said last night. Again. We lived in Spain for ten years. We know about ‘manana.’ We’re okay. On the beach with a couple of friendly neighbours, ignored by the police who wave as they go by. Blue sky, sunshine, no pressure. We’re happy. Maybe the tyre will arrive today, as promised. Maybe not. Manana, perhaps. I wouldn’t be surprised."
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes indeed scary stuff.....brave man, dont know what i would have done.
Can't go into detail. But life has kinda prepared him for these situations anyway. So he just acted "normal" as he would have done anyway.

Personally, I think I would have given the van away. But asked if I could have taken a new set of pants out of the van first. I:
 

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Can't go into detail. But life has kinda prepared him for these situations anyway. So he just acted "normal" as he would have done anyway.

Personally, I think I would have given the van away. But asked if I could have taken a new set of pants out of the van first. I:
Yes like you i would have probably given the van away yes and the pants are a good idea...at the end of the day your vans insured and if someone nicks it under knifepoint them its insured...not worth getting hurt etc
 

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That is one scary story. I have no idea how I would've reacted but sure thing it would have ruined my holiday.
I can't imagine going on a holiday, having such a dreadful experience and still having fun. :*
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
They are just travelling though Europe. On their way to Timbuktu at the moment!

He is a free-lance writer and author. so they have no deadline to get anywhere for any-time.
But can you imagine if it had happened to you? Scary.
 

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Yes like you i would have probably given the van away yes and the pants are a good idea...at the end of the day your vans insured and if someone nicks it under knifepoint them its insured...not worth getting hurt etc
Its surprising how ones being can change with a sudden threat on life or loved ones. Im normally a fairly quiet mellow individual. However, a few years ago whilst i was living in Coventry. I found two dead heads trying to steal my neighbours car. They pulled a knife on me and without so much as a blink a threw a shovel at one lad and jumped on the guy holding the knife.

Natural instinct...!!!

Glad this guy did the right thing and also hasnt let it spoil his trip. True heroT:A::cool:
 

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Yes like you i would have probably given the van away yes and the pants are a good idea...at the end of the day your vans insured and if someone nicks it under knifepoint them its insured...not worth getting hurt etc

Glad this guy did the right thing and also hasnt let it spoil his trip. True heroT:A::cool:
 

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I live in Seville and theres lots of this happening at the moment. Also tyre slashing of foreign registered vehicles and break ins into foreign vans and cars.

A colleague left his car in a secure car park at work when it wouldn't start. The car park is enclosed, guarded and has cameras. He returned the next day and his tyres were slashed although security saw nothing and the cameras were mysteriously off line at that time. Another parked his California by the beach and went for a walk. The van was right next to a cafe, but when the windows were smashed, triggering the alarm, no one investigated or saw anything. The police weren't interested and in fact said they wouldnt investigate, and usually don't respond to non Spanish speakers.

Several expat neighbours have had the locks on their houses filled with glue, had objects including a dead rabbit thrown over the walls into their gardens.

I bought my van to bring here in the summer, but I am seriously reconsidering.
 

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Talk about picking on the wrong person! Your godfather sounds like a... Erm interesting character to say the least:D

Been having a read through some of his blogs,stories etc good stuffT: A:
 

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What i'd like to do and what I would do are probably very different.

I'd like to think i'd reach into the van and get my Pitch Wedge out and take some divots out the scum bags.
However, I think I'd get the wife and dogs out and let them take the van.

Dont fancy getting myself or the wife stabbed over a van
 

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gutted to hear about there bad luck

when i went to romainia in my land rover i was told not to stop for a rest after germany due for this reason.. only stop at well lit and big petrol/service stations.. after being told that i didnt stop at all in europe and made sure i got there with a complete land rover + trailer

its a sad world we live in

dave
 
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