It’s not my fault I drive a big car. I still pretend I drive a small single-person’s car, squeezing down near impossible back alleys, reversing into shoebox-sized car spaces…
But here I am, parody of the modern day suburban mother, driving my huge, ozone depleting, nitrogen oxide emitting, four wheel drive to the supermarket and back. There are practical reasons of course – I do share it with my husband who runs a photography adventure tour business, but I won’t bore you with the details.
The only thing you need to know is that it’s big and white and shiny and when I drove it for the first time I could feel the HATE from other drivers.
On the day in question I wasn’t expecting to totally lose my shit, but I did have a deadline to meet, I had to get my eleven year old son Tom to the filmset of ‘A Place To Call Home’.
I’d allowed two hours for a journey that was supposed to take one, avoided peak hour, and packed snacks to eat on the way – nothing worse than having low blood sugar in Sydney traffic – in other words, I’d done all the right things.
In my bag was a perfect big red organic apple. I’d been looking forward to eating it all day. I’d actually smuggled it out of the house under a tea towel so the kids wouldn’t get it. It was mine and I took the time to polish it lovingly as I
drove calmly following the sat nav’s directions. Tom was in the front seat beside me, we were in a good mood, like Thelma and Louise, setting off together on an adventure. This was a fun job, we were going to stay the night together at a motel in Wilberforce…
Thank God Thelma and Louise didn’t have sat nav, that’s all I can say.
It would have been a completely different movie, the female robot voice constantly talking over the top of them:
‘At the next roundabout, take the second exit. … At the next roundabout, take the second exit.’
Louise would have been shouting at it well before they’d left Arkansas, ‘Yes just SHUT UP! We know! Just go straight though the fucking roundabout! We get it! Can’t you stop it from speaking??! How do you STOP IT FROM SPEAKING???’
As they tore across the dirt of the Grand Canyon: ‘Please perform a U-Turn… Recalculating… Please perform a U-Turn… Recalculating…’ I’d drive my car off a cliff too.
The sat nav told me to turn right at the next intersection but I couldn’t because there were about 3 million cars waiting to turn already. I slowed beside them to a crawl and put my indicator on, someone would let me in, surely, that’s what I would do, that’s what a normal person would do if they saw a driver struggling in unfamiliar territory, lost on a tangle of motorway intersections…
But not if that driver was a woman in a big white shiny four wheel drive – it was like the gates of hell opened – road rage that had been compressed for decades spewed to the surface and erupted – head shaking turned into horn beeping, a truck driving past three lanes away blared a long enraged howl from it’s air horn as it thundered down the motorway.
Stupidly I put down my window and put my hand out. When the light turned green the person I had pulled up beside would let me in. This was how society worked… wasn’t it?
I turned to look at the last driver, ‘Hah! Stupid sat nav!’ I called out the window. He had his windows up but inside he was clearly shouting like I was his ex-wife. I took a bite of my apple, and I was crushed – it was soft! I hate that. I hate soft apples. The man in the car was going berzerk, his eyes were full of hatred at me, for what?
My beautiful apple – I chewed on the pulpy mush. So… unsatisfying… and I snapped. It hit me that the angry man was not going to let me in, and the rest of the 3 million angry men behind him, they were going to set an example of me – I felt like a small dog who’d just crapped on the carpet in front of his owner.
But I was not a chihuahua.
The apple hit the windscreen and exploded. The man instinctively repelled from the impact, his face turned to shock; his eyebrows went up and his mouth opened into a circle.
‘Mum!’ gasped Tom. I panicked.
‘Oh shit,’ I thought, ‘What have I done?’ I slammed my foot on the accelerator and took off with a squeal of smoking rubber. The blood was pumping through my veins. The car and the driver were left far behind but now I could hear a new threat, a helicopter, somewhere above me, and then… sirens. ‘Oh God,’ I thought, ‘A traffic chopper…’
I could already hear Vic Lorusso, ‘Police are chasing a big white shiny four wheel drive after the driver, a suburban mother, was allegedly seen discharging some kind of weapon before surprised onlookers…’ I was going to be on the nightly news. They probably had it all on camera! The angry man probably had a fucking dash cam – I’d be on COPS and mothers would be playing Crazy Apple Lady on YouTube in the playground forever.
‘Fuck!’ I took a turnoff towards a shopping centre, I would drive into the multi-storey car park to hide and wait til the chopper went over, then I’d take the back roads to Wilberforce. Make sure I didn’t drive near any cliffs.
I looked at Tom to make sure he was okay, he took my hand as we bounced over a speed hump. ‘Don’t turn back Mum, let’s just keep going…’ he said, ‘Go!’
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