I couldn’t have picked a worse day for it.

The temperature had soared above 40 degrees, the metal burned my hand and the bitumen was so hot you couldn’t kneel on it.

I’d broken down in the scorching heat of a summer afternoon on the side of the M7 Motorway in Sydney’s west.

I’d never changed a tyre in a Toyota Kluger before and the owner’s manual was virtually incomprehensible.

The index sent me to page 427, but it referred me back to page 359 — unfortunately neither told me what I needed to know.

The trick I discovered after several frustrating minutes was to ignore the instructions and turn over to page 428 where it was all laid out for me.

After dragging out the rear parcel shelf to kneel on, I’d manged to liberate the spare from under the rear of the wagon (full-size alloy thank you) and had just positioned the jack in preparation for raising the car, when who should turn up but the boys in blue.

“You okay,'” yelled the cop on the bike.

The constant stream of traffic on the motorway was pretty noisy.

“Yeah. I think I’ll be okay now,” I replied, pointing at the jack.

“Want a hand?”

“I wouldn’t say no.”

To put things in perspective the only thing I’d ever received from the police in the past was speeding tickets and plenty of them. It kinda goes with the territory.

I remember one new car launch in South Australia where a copper allegedly drove a couple of hundred kilometres just to get a piece of the action, to nail himself a motoring journo.

The car companies always tell you in the pre-drive briefings to abide by the road rules and stick to the speed limit, but in the early days no one ever did.

It was a race to see who could get there first.

But after receiving a big one (I did), you tend to become a bit more circumspect.

In other words: no licence, no job — and I almost lost mine.

Fast forward a decade or so and I was having the day from hell.

I had to return the Kluger to Alexandria and get to Rosehill by 4pm to pick up a Sooby, or be locked out.

The only problem was that somewhere along the line Rosehill had turned into Erskine Park and I hadn’t received the memo.

Luckily, if you can call it luck, I’d decided to head over to Rosehill first or I’d have been up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

A few phone calls later and I was on my way to Erskine Park, where I got the car in time and most likely a nail for my trouble, given that the area is part of a construction zone.

Did I mention I had to be home by 6pm for a medical appointment?

The clock was ticking.

Which brings me to officer Andrew Mazan from the VIP escort group based out of nearby Huntingwood.

For once a cop didn’t want to give me a ticket, he only wanted to give me a hand.

That’s the kind of thing police did in the old days.

What a credit to NSW Police.

Like me officer Mazan was cooking in his heavy bike jacket, but that didn’t stop him turning on the flashing lights and hopping off his bike.

He was probably worried I’d be cleaned up by a passing vehicle, which seems to happen too often.

“How hot do you reckon it is?” I asked.

“Forty-two,” he said, consulting his bike.

Police or no police the jibes from the now slower, passing traffic continued.

The wheel with the flat tyre was so hot I couldn’t touch it, but the policeman with his riding gloves had no trouble.

Getting the wheel nuts on was problematic though, because you couldn’t do that with gloves.

“Where are you headed?” he asked.

So I started to tell him about my day from hell.

“You’re a handy bloke to know,” he said.

Then officer Mazan told me about the SUV that he was planning to buy.

Good choice, but in case you missed my reply the first time, get the diesel mate — you won’t regret it.

And, thanks again!

And thanks for the bottle of water too.

scorching heat - Andrew Mazan longshot - We get the VIP treatment from the cops
Perfect timing . . . officer Andrew Mazan

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.