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David Porter » Blogs: My Own » Traffic Report 3 – Motorway "Services"

Traffic Report 3 – Motorway "Services"

Why doesn’t the Trade Descriptions Act apply to motorway service areas? When they say tiredness can kill and you pull in off the excessively queueing, repairing, accidenting motorway to refresh yourself, how can what you find there be described as services?

Queues to get in, if a coachload or six of football supporters or geriatric clubs (and I admit I’m not exactly young) have just arrived. Queues to get beyond the cramped, oppressive foyer. Queues to get into the toilets, and queues to get out. For many, it’s queues within as there are not enough workable, decent cubicles.

Queues for overpriced, plastic food and drink, much of it laid out on slabs of past-the-best display in the most unappetising way imaginable. And then of course, queues to get out of the building, and queues to drive off the campus and get petrol and get back onto the motorway where queuing should be in the Highway Code.

Even on the toll motorway of the ghastly M6, where you pay a massive amount of money to travel on a beautiful stretch of well-maintained road (actually, just like you thought all those petrol and road licence taxes might pay for), and pull into a promising newish, clean services to get some speedy, clean, unhurried services to send you on your way, smiling what do you find? Why, only the coachloads of football fans who knew you had come off the main motorway and thought you’d miss their blocking your way in, round and out.

No, it’s not queues that are the big problem. They are an essential part of mobility that we need and crave as humans, and after those taxes milked from us, it’s actually our right to be mobile. It’s the fact that a stop at the motorway services is little more than a retail opportunity (see all Blogs about the hells of shopping), when you just want to rest between Point A and Point B. You don’t want to pick up your week’s groceries, buy your Christmas toys, games, books, CDs and DVDs, play fatuous video games, pay to sit in an electric armchair, buy flowers, contribute to a charity or join a motoring organisation half way through a journey. Or generally indulge in anything beyond basic retail therapy.

But clearly you do, though, in your millions want to do all these things and have made it very worth while for all these companies to cram into these hideous places and invite you to spend yet more money. The problem is that I don’t, so can you please keep off the roads when I’m going from one shopping location to another via a stretch of motorway? Or I may end up seeing not a retail therapist, but a sanity-specialist. Thank you.

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