For me, the Motorway Service Station is a kind of ‘Nowhere land’, it’s neither here or there and could in a lot of cases, be anywhere.
Saying that, it is interesting to take a break on a long run when you can suitably enjoy yourselves by watching people go about their business and spend ages looking for something this Service Station has that others haven’t (that’ll take you a good half an hour).
You arrive at the Service Station and are usually in quite a rush for the Powder Rooms. The poor chap standing outside the entrance selling a Breakdown / Recovery Service should have by now realised it’s probably better to wait for people to come out rather than attempting to stop them in full urgent needs flow!
Obviously I can only speak for the Gentlemen’s Room where each ‘slot’ has adverts above it with very detailed information about Insurance Policies or some gadget. One has to be very careful that you don’t take your concentration off of what you’ve gone in there for.
You go to dry your hands and pass the machine that sell’s things you have had no use for since about 1979 and wonder when someone actually uses it. I guess they must wait for the place to be empty – long wait !
Now, along the Mall and tucked between Cash Points, Massage Seats (who wants those when you’ve just sat down for three hours!), the Crane Game machine where you waste yet another 50p failing to pick up the Teddy you want for no reason at all. the Burger Bars, Photocopy machines and yet more Salespeople, you will find the ‘General Store’ type Shop.
These are the one’s where depending upon the season, always have either a Car Blanket, Neck Cushion, Picnic Basket or Folding Chair stacked in bins outside. To be fair, these are usually reasonably priced and will even out the £4.50 you’ve just paid for a sandwich inside.
On the Shop and Burger Bar issue, where do the Staff live? Do they have to drive 30 miles up a Motorway, come off and drive back or is there a secret Service Road joining onto a little Lane somewhere?
Now comes the moment where you spend some of your inheritance money on a Coffee and Snack and sit amongst all the people who’ve driven legally and finally got the chance to text about 40 people in ten minutes. Whilst you’re doing this, ill disciplined kids run round your table playing Airoplanes or simply trying to put you off your Snack. Their parents in the meantime are oblivious to the world and planning the next Service Station stop to cause even more chaos.
Luckily, me being a miserable old Git, have an excuse for this flurry of getting these things off my chest. I too am usually planning the next stop, not for timing, but for comfort breaks which seem to come far more often than they used to, plus more urgent!
The Service Station is built for needs, the needs of many who have sensibly taken a break from a long drive, they, like life, are just passing through making it a place alien to most. We need them !