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One flu over the cuckoo's nest

© 2000 Duncan Fry


Disclaimer: Dear readers, am suffering from a multiple case of the 'flu, self pity and chronic shit-on-the-liver while writing this, so contents may be more vitriolic than normal. Unable to run this through my normal 'good-taste' filter, so enter at your own risk.


'The Goddess is Dancing'. Have you ever seen that sticker on the back of a car? Just what on earth does it mean? What goddess? Not the goddess of good driving, that's for sure. Cause I tell you what, the only dancing that appears to be happening is the car meandering all over the road while I'm desperately trying to get past so 'the goddess' won't pirouette into the side of my dream machine. Hey, why drive in only one lane when there's another one right next door? Why not just wander between the two of them at random?

I forced myself to go to work on Monday. I was over the infectious side of things, antibiotics having scoured their way through my system like a chemical version of a rifle pull-though, but I was still feeling a little fragile as I drove down to work.

In Victoria they've finally dragged us kicking and screaming into line with the other Australian states, road rule wise, and now you're not allowed to hog the right hand lane on multi lane highways when the speed limit is 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour) or more.
Sadly this news doesn't seem to have filtered through to anyone other than me, since the only way you'll get anyone out of that lane is by driving up behind them with a front end loader and flipping them out of the way!
Anyway, I don't really care as long as they're driving at 80k. It's the passing lane of an 80k road, so it seems reasonable to me that if you don't want to drive at 80k, then YOU KEEP OUT OF THAT BLOODY LANE!

But no, it's full of housewives ferrying kids, guys picking their noses, people driving in their sleep, all merrily chatting to each other on their phones. And old grogans in early model Datsun Bluebirds (Australia's only true competition to Italy's AlfaSud in the rust provoking stakes), chugging down the road on 3 cylinders while Ma and Pa Dipshit peer through the steering wheel, thinking themselves so lucky that they managed to get into that lane, because they've got to turn right in another 20 kilometres!

Either that or the lane is blocked by a greengrocer's truck, usually an asthmatic old 3 ton flatbed, slowly pickling its 7 tons of 'fresh' vegetables in a cloud of blue diesel smoke as it lurches down the highway.

I made it through the day and left early for an appointment with the doctor, to check on my progress towards health, and lo and behold, there's a vehicle belching out a cloud of exhaust smoke travelling up ahead of me in the fast lane, doing, oh at least 40k.
No, it wasn't a greenie driven kombi with a 'Save the Planet' sticker. It was an early model Toyota Corolla, driven by a student, with a sticker on the back bumper that said 'Reduce Road Rage!'
Hmm; it's hard to think of anything more calculated to increase road rage, which was exactly the effect it had on me. Not wanting to disappoint him, I leant on the horn while giving him the finger as I passed on the inside (luckily legal in Victoria on a laned highway). Only my poor state of lung health preventing me from yelling out some helpful advice on sex and travel as well!

You know what really pisses me off when I'm driving? OK I'll tell you. I'm driving down a hill and I have to make a right hand turn halfway down, across any traffic coming towards me. (We drive on the left hand side of the road in Australia, so those of you who don't will have to substitute Right for Left and so on)

As I reach the corner where I have to turn, I see a car coming up the hill towards me. Will I floor the accelerator and burn rubber all the way to get around the corner before he reaches me? No, I do the right thing - I slow down, stop, and wait for him to go past first. And I wait, and wait, and wait some more. Jeez I'd be home by now if I hadn't waited.

Then I realise - this guy isn't out for a drive - he's going for the world record for how slowly you can drive up a hill in top gear without stalling the bloody engine! As he finally rattles his way past me I see it's an old fart wearing a hat! The albatross of the road. It's that old Datsun Bluebird again, looking for a passing lane to hog!

And while we're at it, let's not let suburban 4 wheel drivers off the hook, either. Not the mini funabouts like the Honda HRV or Suzuki Vitara/Sidekick, but the mammoth Land Cruiser Grandes, Pajeros (truly translates as Spanish for wanker!) Nissan Patrols and all the other Urban Assault Vehicles.

I've got nothing against people driving big cars - I drive one, after all - but in a big car it's especially important to know where they begin and end. Such knowledge is, of course, a closed book to the suburbanites who drive these up-market trucks.

Who drives them? On the weekends it appears to be smug upwardly mobile fathers in polyester leisure suits taking their kids to hockety, poolo, or Hungry Macs. During the week, though, it's the turn of the dwarf blonde wife, four foot six and 20 kilos (45 pounds), who has difficulty seeing over the dashboard, let alone over the wheel, and to whom the concept of checking the rear view mirror is as alien as being seen without makeup.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I couldn't see you behind me" wailed one as she inexorably reversed the rear of her Sherman Tank Cruiser through the bonnet of my mini, some years ago. "I thought my tow bar was caught on something."

It was caught on something, lady, it was. It was caught on my car!



Sinking fast now. Time for bed. Must sleep. We'll save Volvos and Camiras for next time!


Contact Me with your pet driving hates if you have any

A modified version of this story first appeared in Connections magazine

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