13 December 2021

If you're tired of life in the fast lane ...

| Sally Hopman
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On the road to somewhere, but going nowhere. Or, how to drive off-road without even trying. Photo: File.

There’s something rather nice about how friendly people can be when you’re rocketing down the highway at around 60km/h.

Everyone waves. Some people use just one or two fingers in their wave but seem just as friendly, while others call out to you from their cars.

Couldn’t quite hear what they were saying but I’m sure it was helpful.

I was on my way to Sydney, driving from Yass and just about in Goulburn, when the clunking started. Serious clunking. It could have clunked for Australia.

Then the steering decided it wanted some attention too. It started veering across to directions I hadn’t really planned on. Like the wrong side of the road. Not a good move. Literally.

So I crawled into Goulburn and stopped at the first tyre place I found. It was one of those “wheely” big franchises that promise you bits of Tasmania with every rim

Renowned the world over for being of great mechanical mind, I figured that the steering was out of whack because of the flat tyre I’d had earlier in the week. The tyre bloke wasn’t having it. Didn’t matter what I said, he didn’t want to know.

Too busy, can’t help you, he said, turning his back and walking out to the empty workshop. I guess he was tyred.

I drove around some more till I found another tyre place. Inside, two blokes were glued to a computer, laughing a lot every time things crashed into other things and blood spurted out. Also too busy.

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Finally, after the car had nearly steered itself into Lake Goulburn (or maybe it was just a really big puddle), I found a tyre bloke who offered to help. Probably because he was standing outside his shop as I drove in, only just missing his thonged foot.

“Jeez that doesn’t look good,” Mr Einstein said.

He put it up on the hoist, all the time muttering “Jeez it doesn’t look good”, so I told him I was going for a coffee and would be back when it did look good.

“Jeez, it doesn’t look good,” he said when I got back. “It’s not the wheel alignment. I can’t fix it, I’m not a mechanic.”

“Is it safe to drive back to Yass?” I asked him. “Jeez, it doesn’t look good, but you should be OK if you take it slow.”

Life in the fast lane. Not.

It took me a lifetime to get home. Yes, the thoughtful greetings from other motorists helped soothe as they waved and pointed.

But I wasn’t really taking too much notice. I was hunkered down over the wheel, clutching it for dear life because, if I didn’t, it tried to go somewhere else.

I could not have gone any slower. I could have eaten the dust of a learner-driver, on a bicycle. Road trains, actually carrying a train, and minus a few of their 84 tyres, could have beaten me. I wasn’t even a match for a caravan.

But at least I got to see stuff. Like trees and bits of road that you normally just drive over/into. And some really strange expressions on people’s faces – especially those in the laybys who could eat their pies in the time it took me to pass them.

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I also stopped to rescue a tortoise who was trying to cross the highway. No, that’s actually a lie. I stopped for it because I wanted a chance to beat it.

(Note: No tortoises were beaten, with blunt instruments or otherwise, in the making of this story.)

By the time I got home, a year had gone by – well, it certainly felt like it. But then I remembered why I live where I live.

I took the car to the local mechanic. He knows my name, my car and nothing has ever been too much trouble. He told me what was wrong with it, how much it would cost to repair and how long it would take. As always, he was true to his word, on all counts.

I’d tell you his name, but his good work keeps him busy enough.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on Riotact.

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