I began a new job in January, a new job that has pretty much consumed my life, mainly because it is 300 miles away from where I live. And this massive distance means that I sit in my Camry for, on average, 19 hours a day. I jest, of course. However, my daily trek and the delights of the freeway they call Monash have opened my eyes further to the anal dwelling motorway maniac that is the Aussie driver. To give you a basic overview, what one would usually call ‘a safe driving distance’, Australians like to call ‘a challenge’. The Australian Highway Code seems to be ‘Jus’ fackin’ go for it mate!’, and the indicator is simply that useless bit of plastic that intermittently flashes at people for no real reason, much like Katie Price, or Tara Reid. The idea, it would seem, is to manoeuvre, then look in your mirror to see if you’ve hit something, and then give yourself a hearty slap on the back if every one behind you is not writhing in agonising pain in a fiery ball of death.
There are, it appears, a myriad of Aussie rules of driving that are unwritten, but which one has to fathom quickly if one is to remain alive and not burned beyond recognition:
- If the aforementioned indicator is, by some happy accident, employed in the process of turning a corner or overtaking, then it is to be left on for the next 110 kilometres, confusing the shit out of everyone behind you, meaning that those drivers dare not overtake or indeed undertake you for fear of being side swiped, resulting in them writhing in a fiery ball of death.
- When driving on a summer’s day, it is also perfectly acceptable to reach your right hand out of the window and with the flat of your hand, buffet against the wind in, I suppose, an inane attempt to cool down, but which looks like you are signalling that you are slowing down, or turning right, or that you are just a massive wanker.
- If you are a tradie, and you drive a Ute, under no circumstances should you securely tie the load you are transporting. Instead, you should let wheelbarrows jostle for dominance over toilet cisterns on the open back of the van, and massive flaps of cardboard should flutter nonchalantly in the breeze before launching themselves onto the windscreen of the car behind. Huge tubes of metal should hang precariously off the tailgate, threaded to the sides of the chassis with flimsy pieces of twine. However, remember that the chances of them slipping and impaling the driver behind will be hugely diminished should one tie a luminous piece of rag onto the end of one of the poles.
On at least three occasions every day do these ham-fisted toll road tits offer me a variety of new and interesting ways to die; flipping my car over in an attempt to miss the back end of their vehicles; running into a wall in an attempt to miss the back end of their vehicles; having the car behind me smash into me because the car in front has braked so suddenly I have to swerve in an attempt to miss the back of their vehicle, the list is endless, and mostly bring about a ‘Final Destination’ style vision of my own end, which is just as unpleasant as it sounds.
And, lest we forget, should one drive an Audi, one has a completely different set of rules to drive by entitled ‘Fack all of youse. I drive an Audi’…
As well as the longer drive affording me a plethora of different ways in which to die or be horribly maimed, it has also given me a lot of time to think about things, and for those who know me well, this is a terrifying prospect. I enjoy thinking about things. I enjoy thinking about things like how I would survive the impending zombie apocalypse (in painstaking and scrupulous detail), why Scooby Doo and Shaggy are, episode after episode, decade after decade, terrified of ghosts and then really surprised when it isn’t a ghost but Mr. Perkins, the Ferris Wheel owner who has been menacing the locals. Seriously, you’d have thought by now that Shaggy would have just said, ‘Scoobs, I know it’s not a ghost, you know it’s not a ghost, it’s Mr Perkins. Let’s just get baked and then have a go on that Ferris Wheel.’
What I have been thinking about a lot recently, is the complete lack of control we have over external forces that may or may not have an influence on our lives, and how scary that is. I have come to the conclusion that there are certain things about which I can do nothing, they are beyond my control and therefore I should file them under F for Fuck It. I cannot do anything about the Volkswagen driver who thinks it is OK to undertake me as I’m about to pull into a slip road at 80 KPH and I cannot do anything about the following list of things:
1. I cannot do anything about the Terence Trent D’Arby’s lack of common sense. Take the lyrics to ‘If You Let Me Stay’,
Sweetheart listen. I know the last few pages
Haven’t been good for the both of us
And I’ve caused you a lot of grief
But put those bags down, O.K.?
Before you make a decision like that
Please just listen to me
‘Cos I don’t want you to leave
I definitely don’t want you to leave
Just hear me out
Honey, don’t leave me now
With my head on my shoulders wrong
Have I done something wrong for you to leave?
Well, yes actually Terence, you have done something wrong. You’ve just said it. You’ve caused this woman ‘a lot of grief’. Now, granted, you do not say specifically what has caused said ‘grief’, but the fact that you recognise that there was ‘grief’ caused should reduce the probability that you have to ask whether you have done something wrong. Maybe if you put two and two together more often, you wouldn’t be standing in front of the door with your doe eyes imploring your girlfriend to put her suitcase down. Come on Terence, pull it together man.
2. I cannot do anything about that one ironically over weight PE teacher in every PE department in every school across the world.
3. I cannot do anything about people who say ‘at the end of the day’. At the end of the day is night, and that is it. Now stop talking. Forever.
4. Moreover, I cannot do anything about people who say ‘You know?’ at the end of each sentence. Are you seriously asking me if I know? Are you insinuating that I am somehow incapable of deciphering the complex labyrinth that is your mind? Of course I know. I’m not Terence Trent D’Arby.
5. I cannot do anything about people who cannot eat without making a grotesque series of swamp-like noises; sifting soup through a moustache; eating muesli in such a way as to amplify the mastication of each individual oat, raisin and nut but swallowing the whole globulous mass in a squelchy cacophony of nauseating gulping sounds; crunching apples to oblivion, core and all; drinking hot coffee by holding the cup two feet from the face, sucking the hot beverage from the cup into the mouth through the air in a vain attempt to cool the liquid down en route; breathing in whilst eating a mince pie, thus choking noisily on the icing sugar that festoons the top of the festive treat, spluttering uncontrollably, showering colleagues in a snow storm of crumbs and chunks of candied peel, before repeating the whole disgusting pantomime again the next time a bite is taken.
6. I cannot do anything about Robbie Williams.
7. I cannot do anything about the kind of people who need the warning ‘May contain nuts’ on a packet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. You know. Stupid people.
8. I cannot do anything about Vegemite, or marzipan, or grapefruit, or spinach, or oysters, all of which can be found in Satan’s pantry.
The list is endless. Probably. The main thing is that this realisation is actually quite freeing – I cannot do anything about people who cannot drive because in order to do so they would have to have their head removed from their anal sphincter first, a complicated and painful procedure, and one in which I can play no useful part. I just have to be wary of them. It means I can concentrate on things that are a far better use of my time, like Paddington Bear’s wardrobe – duffle coat and hat by day, pyjamas by night. Does that mean he is tackle out in daylight hours? Is that why his label says ‘Please look after this bear’? Because this is Paddington’s last chance at a normal life before he is institutionalised? Or is this simply how they do things in deepest, darkest Peru? Something to think about…