Incident 7 - Policewoman - Stuck checking a School
 

 

 

 

I was crewed up with a Policewoman from a different shift working nights. We had never worked together before. She was quite pretty and stood about 5’ 7” tall. She always wore a skirt (trousers were not mandatory then!). I had no proof that she regularly wore stockings and suspenders, but I once saw her go very red in the face when someone mentioned that she did. I could not tell from looking, as her skirt material was too thick and the length too long to ever catch a glimpse of either a suspender strap or a stocking top! The slightly better news concerned her shoes, which had a heel of about two inches.

 

She turned out to be quite a confident driver and having let her drive me around for a few hours I remembered that there had been problems at one of the local schools with youths breaking the windows. I suggested that we ought to drive right in and around the school to check that everything was okay. It always looked good if the Police found damage in the middle of the night before the Caretaker found it in the morning, as it showed that at least we were on patrol and checking their premises!

 

We did the Lower school area and then went to the Upper part. A number of buildings looked out onto a rugby pitch and it was necessary to check them from the pitch side as these were the ones that were most vulnerable.

 

The rugby pitch at this school had been carved out of a piece of land that sloped. This meant that at one end (nearest the houses that were adjacent to the school), the earth had been dug away, whilst over on the opposite side, it had been dumped to bring the surface up to roughly the same level. The pitch still sloped very slightly away from the houses. Where the land had been made up, it was just about flat apart from one corner, which dipped down over a quite steep grass bank that sloped down to meet the access road. This was a concrete track that climbed up from the normal ground level, to reach the flat area. It then stopped and became just grass as soon as the level ground was reached.

 

 

 

I suggested that we drive up the track so that she could drive onto the pitch and then turn and shine the car headlights onto the buildings, whilst I actually walked along the buildings looking for any damage. She dropped me near the bottom of the access track and drove off up onto the flat grass area. I walked off to the side and started looking at the windows of the classrooms. I heard her driving towards the far end of the pitch. I had suggested that she do that so that she could then turn in a large circle and shine the headlights on the buildings as I walked along beside them. I heard the car stall from the other end of the pitch, which I thought was strange. She started the engine and slowly moved forward whilst gradually turning to her right. I then heard her stall the car again. I could not understand why she kept stalling the engine, but carried on walking along the front of all the buildings. When I got to the last one I turned and walked around the corner and then looked back to see where she was. I was surprised that she was still over on the far side of the pitch. By now I had expected her to have driven a lot nearer, so that her headlights would be bright enough to be of use to me shinning on the windows. I stood and watched as she very slowly continued with her right turn. I saw her stall it a third time when she was almost round far enough to face towards me. I had no idea that the ground was really really wet and boggy over that side and that she was continually stalling the car because she was trying to drive very slowly and gently so that she would not induce any wheels spin.

 

I was still completely in the dark (both regarding her driving and actually!) and so as her headlights were now round far enough for them to be shinning on me, I waved to her to drive over to me. However, she did not move and so I assumed that she had not seen my signal. I finally started to wonder if she was worried about driving on the grass, and that was why she would not collect me, and so I decided to add some pressure to the situation by calling her up on the radio. I asked her “Are you coming over her to pick me up, the buildings seem alright, and we can go out this way in the corner where I am standing”. I found out later that it was not possible to exit the school that way anymore as they had recently put up a new fence and gate at the rear entrance to deter vandals entering the grounds that way, but luckily I did not know that at the time!

 

There was always the alternative of using the car headlights to check the buildings more thoroughly once she had picked me up, if we drove back the way I had walked. However, whilst I was thinking all of this her reply surprised me. She said: “I’m not going to come over, the car may get stuck”. This was on an open channel Police radio!

 

The penny then finally dropped as to why she had been driving so strangely.

 

I started off walking across the middle of the field towards where she was stopped. I got in and she immediately said: “Its very muddy there, I nearly got stuck. Did you hear the car stall? That was me trying to keep going”.

 

She managed to slowly pull away without spinning her wheels and she turned further to her right and headed for the top of the track. However I could immediately see that the ground was starting to get very wet in front of us. She must have noticed it as well, as she said: “It’s very bad here, I only just managed to keep going” referring to the muddy bit in front of her and then to where she had turned earlier by waving her had in that direction.

 

Without speaking anymore she immediately turned to her left and started to make her way towards the top of the steep grass bank in the corner where the track came in. She headed that way for a moment or two and then I realised what she was thinking and so I said: “Are you heading for the grass slope, to go out that way?” She said: “Yes”. I said: “You won’t be able to, it’s far too steep. You will ground the front of the car when you reach the bottom. The bumper will dig in and get damaged”. The grass bank, because it was man made, was very steep and ended abruptly where it met the level track. It would have taken some explaining because our car would have been facing down a very steep grass bank, with its front bumper embedded in the ground at the bottom! It would have looked like something from a cartoon!

 

I assumed that she would turn to her left and go round it a great big circle and drive back to the far end of the pitch following the tracks that she had made coming in. That is what I would have done, in the hope that having made it on that course coming in, we could make it going out. 

 

However, without asking me anymore about it, she immediately turned back to her right, straight towards the muddy section, but before she got to the really bad bit, she then straightened up by turning left towards the top of the road. She was just about at right angles to the muddy section and was at one end of it, as she tried to complete the turn. She used low revs, and that, coupled with the wetter ground that she was now trying to cross, caused her to stall the car. She started it up and tried to pull away. Her wheels spans and the car didn’t move.

 

She finally spoke and said: “She’s spinning, she won’t move”.

 

She tried again, but as soon as she started to let up the clutch pedal the wheels just span again.

 

It was obvious to me that it was very muddy and that she might have a lot of trouble getting out, as the car was on the level and the front wheels were obviously sinking into the mud with each attempt.

 

I told her to try backwards. She selected reverse, but again, even with very low revs, she got nowhere!

 

She said: “Its no good, she won’t make it, she’s totally stuck. I was worried about this bit, that’s why I wanted to go out there” (pointing to the grass bank).

 

I said “I didn’t realise you meant it was this bad, try again going forwards and put the wheels straight”.

 

She had been trying to move forwards with the steering wheel still turned slightly to the left, in order to complete the turn back towards the top of the track. She tried again to go forwards whilst at the same time turning the steering wheel into a straight line. Although this meant that the wheels were then in line with the way she wanted to go, she had probably dug a rut having already had them turned to start with.

 

Needless to say, the wheels just kept on spinning as she slowly let up the clutch. I was about to tell her to stop (so that the rut did not get any bigger) when she suddenly started to repeatedly dip and raise the clutch pedal, and at the same time she started to rock in her seat, backwards and forwards, saying “Ooh, what shall I do I’m stuck, she won’t go forwards or backwards”.

 

Part of me wanted her to stop her trying, because I knew it would be hard to get her out because of the rut that she would have been making, but I also loved seeing her struggle! She didn’t get cross, but she was obviously worried because when she then eventually gave up and tried to go backwards, the wheels just span even more because she was giving the engine more revs. However, the car would not move at all and she looked at me with a worried expression, which I managed to see from the light given off by the dashboard.

 

She then said: “Oh dear we’ll never get out. I don’t know what to do”.

 

I said: “I will have a look and then see if I can give you a push”.

 

I put on the interior light and then got out and looked at her left front wheel. It was deeply imbedded in a trench of mud that was quite deep. I just about managed to walk around the front of the car without falling over in the slippery mud and saw that the right wheel was just as deep and that there was mud all up the side of car!

 

I walked passed her drivers door and suggested that she put her window down so that she could hear me. I told her to try again, and suggested that if she did get going, she go straight forwards, and then immediately turn to the left, as this would lead her away from the wettest ground, but still towards the road.

 

I carried on and went to the back of the car and called to her to try again.

When I pushed from the middle of the rear, the car did not move. I could hear the wheels spinning round in the slippery mud.

 

I could hardly stand up due to the extremely muddy grass, and once she had again given up, as I tried to walk around the to the side of the car, I fell over!

 

She burst out laughing and then suddenly stopped, as though she thought I might be cross. I laughed and told her if it happened again, I would give up pushing completely and she would have to get herself out! She commented: “Some hope in this mud”.

 

 

(Sorry its only a made up picture, but hopefully it will help illustrate the incident)

 

I managed to get up and with now very muddy hands, I went to the rear passenger door and tried to push from there. I could then push a bit more as the ground was not quite so slippery, but I was still not able to get enough grip to be of much use. I pushed as she tried again to get moving, this time revving the engine a bit more. She immediately started rocking in her seat yet again, but she was not quite timing it right this time with her clutch pedal movements. This meant that it was difficult for me to know exactly when to push for the best effect, so I ended up just pushing as hard as I could all of the time. However, then my feet then started sliding again in the mud, and it was obvious that she was not able to move the car forwards at all.

 

I then came up to the passenger door and opened it. I explained to her how she was doing all the right things, but that we needed to coordinate our efforts so that her clutch, seat rocking and my pushing were all working towards a forward movement at exactly the same time. She seemed to immediately understand what I was getting at, by explaining it back to me. She was obviously not just a pretty face!

 

I stayed holding onto the door pillar in front of the passenger door with both hands. I then tried to dig my boots into the grass to make a hole from which I could push. The interior light was still on and so by looking over my right shoulder, I had a good view of her sat in her seat.

 

We agreed that I would call when she was to let up the clutch and when to press it down, and that she would rock in her seat in time with it, and I would push only when she was lifting the clutch up. I said: “We had better get this right, or else you will be needing a rescue truck. We have got to get you up, over and out of that rut”

 

She said: “Yes I know, I really don’t want to have to be pulled out, it would be so embarrassing. I am embarrassed enough already as it is, getting the car stuck on the first time that you come out on patrol with me”.

 

I said: “I am sure the rest of your Group will not tease you too much when they hear that you had to be pulled out of a bog at 4 o’clock in the morning”.

 

She said: “Oh don’t please, I will never hear the end of it”

 

I called: “Rights lets try. One, two, three, go” and she gave the car quite a lot of revs and let up the clutch. The wheels span round and as soon as the car was not able to move any further, I called “Down”. She dipped her clutch and allowed the car to move back an inch or two. I called out: “Up” and she immediately let it up again and gave it even more revs.

 

I repeated this and called out: “Don’t forget to rock yourself as well, we need every bit of help we can get”.

 

She did not reply but immediately started rocking her upper body backwards and forwards in her seat in time with my calls. The look on her face was a picture of determination, especially when she let the clutch up. She rocked herself forwards towards the steering wheel, which she was gripping like mad. Her face creased up each time as though her life depended upon it.

 

I was able to look at her legs and although I could not see her feet, I could see her left leg moving up and down on the clutch as well as her right leg doing the opposite movement on the accelerator. She was good because she was not just revving the engine continually, but putting the revs on as she engaged the clutch and letting them off as she dipped it.

 

After about seven or eight rocks I felt the car start to gain some movement. She was so good and I was pushing so hard, that gradually we increased the momentum of each rock, until the car was moving more than a foot in each direction.

 

I called out: “Its working, don’t stop whatever you do”

 

She called back: “My leg is killing me but I will keep going. I can feel it moving backwards and forwards”

 

She then started talking to the car saying, “Come on, come on” to the car!

 

Suddenly after one big push the wheels got up over the trench and started to grip a little. I got left behind and watched as she slowly slithered forwards with both wheels still spinning. She managed to keep going and gradually got round onto the track. I managed to walk the short distance to the road to catch her up without falling over again. She still had the light on as I got in. She had a really red face, which I had not noticed until then. She looked mightily relieved that we had got the car out without needing a tow. 

 

I told her that she had been worried, she replied: “Yes I was, I knew that she was really stuck, the wheels were just spinning so much”.

 


 

This experience was the first I had known where the lady driver had actually spoken directly to the car, referring to the car as a ‘she’.

 

 

It was hard work staying up for an extra hour after a night shift to write up a full diary entry of this incident, but I am glad that I did because I can now share it!