Right now, I am stuck in a motorway service station. I’m near the front door; next to the cheating grab toy machine that no one ever uses and I don’t know how I ended up here, and I don’t have an exit strategy.
You know the one; just off that big motorway, with the mini version of a posh supermarket right next to WH Smith. That coffee place and not the fast food chain you never go to but the other fast food chain you never go to, just round the corner from the games arcade where no one ever spends any money.
It’s an awful feeling. As metaphors go, I think the motorway service station is probably grossly underused – for obvious reasons – but it perfectly describes where I am right now and so much so that I am playing with the feeling. In theory, motorway services are meant to be havens of food, water and rest. The place you feel safe and happy pulling into on a long journey. Where the welcome break (ahem) from self imposed in-car-hell or heaven can be ritually broken. Where toilet breaks are free and clean(ish).
Suddenly, all colour, taste, temperature and desire vanishes as the scales fall from your eyes and the truth is revealed. The problem is that once the novelty wears off, motorway services are inherently miserable, bleak places on the road to nowhere for everyone. This isn’t a haven of modern convenience, this is a transitory hell – this is purgatory. You prefer not to spend money and generally the lighting makes you feel like the world is devoid of colour. This place could have been built in the 70s, you don’t even know what year it is anymore. All you know is this; you are coming from nowhere, going to anywhere for something and you’ve stopped because you/a fellow traveller is/are hungry/thirsty/tired/pressed/angry/upset (delete as applicable) and the stop will take as long as it takes.
That’s where I am right now.