Cars and other stories

The great concrete truck disaster of ‘77.

 © 1998 D R Fry



One afternoon I had been out for a particularly long and liquid lunch with the sales manager and credit manager from work. Along with a couple of clients, we had knocked off bottle after bottle of Red wine, plus the obligatory half dozen brandies, and now we were absolutely shitfaced, to put it bluntly.

Eventually we waved goodbye to the clients, who were in a similar state, and wended our way back to work. Brian the sales manager locked himself in his office, flipped his chair over backwards, passed out on the floor, and was discovered by the cleaners at 10 o’clock that night.(see footnote) Jim the credit manager went for the big spit in the stockroom, then skidded over in it and knocked himself out on the concrete floor!

In the ensuing mayhem, I lurched to the dunny just in time to wrestle the porcelain bus, then announced to no-one in particular that I was going home.
I made it to the car park, slid into the driver’s seat, turned the key and then floored the accelerator. It was a wet afternoon, and the green dream slithered around the twisting side streets until I hit the main road. And I mean hit!
As we (the car and me - I’m not sure which of us was actually in control) exited the side street, a concrete truck was just accelerating onto the freeway ramp.

WHAM! The next thing I remember was standing by the back half of the car, heaving my guts out in the gutter. The front half of the car was some distance away. If I’d slid a couple of feet further before we hit, my legs would have been up there with it!. The thought of this caused my body to reject even more lunch. Just where do those carrots come from?
Shit. What was I going to do? If the law found me in this condition, I could kiss my licence goodbye for a fair few years. I stood there scratching my head, searching for inspiration.

And just then in answer to my prayers, a tow truck came over the bridge towards me. I waved to them, they stopped, and I explained my predicament (as if they couldn’t see!).
Within a minute and a half they had hooked up both halves of the car, sat me in the back with it (I smelt too bad to ride in the front!), and we were on our way to the panelbeaters!
On the way there I decided that cowardice was by far the safest course, so I phoned the little woman, (the iron lady of Church Street, ex-wife #1) and told her that everyone at work had all been struck down by a mysterious food poisoning bug!
I wallowed in self-righteous sympathy and self pity, and unless she reads this now, she never found out the truth!

Although the car was repaired by the insurance company, it never drove the same afterwards. Always a bit twitchy at high speed (135 mph on the Ballarat freeway made the palms really sweaty) it now was definitely unstable.
So, in 1975, wanting to visit the States, I sold the car and used the proceeds for the ticket and spending money. The guy who bought it told me later that he stripped the car completely and re-welded every join and panel. Whether he kept up the rich tradition that was handed down with the car and later stacked it, I don’t know.

But jeez it was a fun car while I had it.

And oh yes, the driver of the concrete truck sent me a bill for the damage to his vehicle; $120 to repaint his front bumper!


The story didn't end there. Brian got a taxi home after being woken by the cleaners. Unfortunately when he got home there was a power blackout and he was still a bit pickled, which caused him to forget that the carpet layers had been working in his house. However at that stage they hadn't actually laid any carpet, but just left the razor sharp carpet tacking strips ready for putting the carpet down in the morning.

After opening the door, he tripped over the doorstep in the dark, and crawled around the house to the bedroom, severely lacerating his hands and knees on the tacking strips at the same time.The lights came back on just as he was crawling into bed, dripping with blood. This woke his wife, and thinking she was being attacked by a blood soaked stranger (as opposed to her blood soaked husband) she screamed blue murder, hit him on the head with the bedside lamp and laid him out cold.

He was rushed to hospital and spent the night in Casualty wondering what had happened. It was not a good day for any of us!


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