As volunteer animal ambulance drivers at Animal Rescue Centre, we regularly transport a variety of animals to and from the local vet.
This entails going in and out of the centre’s vast grounds at hours when the centre is closed to the public, early in the morning and late in the evening.
The huge iron gates have to be swung open to allow the ambulance through, and then swung creakily shut and padlocked afterwards (though not, as I had imagined, to stop people taking the animals, but rather to prevent the irresponsible dumping of unwanted animals)
When we first started our voluntary work I always drove the car when we went through this routine, but the first time we took the ambulance out ourselves, now trained and trusted official helpers, and considered competent enough to do the ‘Vet Run’ unsupervised, Dave was driving
On the way into the centre in the car, I had duly managed to remember the combination of numbers, opened the gates inwards to allow the car in, followed the car in, swung the gates closed, put the heavy chain through the holes, and locked us inside for the long drive to the animal houses..
Ten minutes later, feeling rather conspicuous in the ‘RSPCA Animal Ambulance’ we drove back to the gates.
As before, I got out, remembered the combination and successfully swung the big iron monsters open for Dave to drive the gleaming ambulance through. Then I rather self-consciously heaved the gates shut, put the chain through the holes again and clicked the padlock shut.
It was only then that I realised that although I had let Dave and his precious cargo out, I had in fact locked myself inside!