This column wasn’t going anywhere fast, and deadline was rapidly approaching. Inspiration was lacking. I’d rather be fishing. “I don’t know how you manage it each week,” the feedback from a lovely lady ringing in my head from the previous week. “I don’t know either,” I told myself, a hint of panic in the tone.
“Get out of the office,” the Little Voices in the back of the head told me.
You know, the ones that are never wrong. The Little Voices that always are the voices of reason and commonsense.
They keep us on the straight and narrow, most of the time. They’re also the ones that say “told you so” when you’ve instead been swayed by the Evil Voices… the ones that make you pop bubble wrap when you know it’s a silly exercise. The ones that make you open the microwave door after three beeps instead of five. That encourage you to stay out late at night, sampling strong liquor and fraternising with fellows of lowly moral standards. Not that it happens to me.
The ones that make you dress in fishnets and … oh, hang on, that wasn’t the evil voices, that was Richard O’Brien’s voice.
“Get some fresh air, meet some interesting people, see some interesting sights,” said the Little Voices. “It’s school holidays, the roads will be quieter, the sun is shining and folk are friendly and relaxed,” they assured.
So off I went to run errands around town. “It will be refreshing,” warbled the soothing tones. “Invigorate the mind and stimulate the thinking process.”
I agreed with the LVs and told them so.
“The best way to avoid writer’s block is to walk around it,” goes the old quote that I just made up, right now.
Well, Little Voices, have I got news for you.
Because Wednesday is Frontal Lobotomy Day for Tauranga drivers. They were at their incompetent worst, on all fronts.
Dawdling. Not just 10 or 20 km/h under the speed limit, but virtually stopped. Dithering. No idea where they’re going.
Failure to indicate. That funny stick on the side of the steering wheel must be a completely bewildering piece of equipment for most Tauranga drivers.
They may as well hang their Frontal Lobotomy Frequent Flyer Coupons on it. The stick certainly isn’t used for any other purpose.
Bad parking. I don’t think they set out to take up two parks, it just ends up that way. One incompetent in actually excelled, by taking up four; being so far forward he rendered the two parks in front of him inaccessible as well as the two either side of his car. Interesting, it was a panel beater’s courtesy car, which tells a story in itself.
The Little Voices insisted I stay calm and patient. I again listened, as I slammed on the brakes to miss a woman driving the wrong way up the one way street.
And smiled sweetly as she mouthed off… ignorance is bliss.
Errands completed, and back to the office, taking it all my relaxed stride. A perplexed chap stuck half way across an intersection, on the yellow cross-hatch painted road, wondered why the bloke in the courier van was making gestures with one or two digits. Another couple of non-indicating zombies caused a near miss at the roundabout; and the day wouldn’t be complete without a woman blatting past with a ciggie in one hand and in the other a cellphone sandwiched to her ear. Unless she has three arms, I can only conclude she was steering with her ample cleavage. Having thought about that concept for a few moments, I was disappointed not to see more at the next set of lights. I would have suggested smoke with one hand, drive with the other, and dial with her cleavage. I’d pay money to see that. With those skills, she could be a contender for NZ’s Got Talent: Stunt driving episode.
Maybe we should take a leaf from United Airlines’ Standard Operating Procedures… and drag incompetent drivers kicking and screaming from their driver’s seats. Plonk them at the nearest Bay Hopper bus stop.
Because many just shouldn’t be on the roads and they’re not just the elderly. There’s many halfwit middle-aged disasters on wheels; and mothers at the end of their tethers, counting the seconds before school goes back and the little horrors can again be the worry of long-suffering teachers for six hours of the day. That line of thinking kept me amused while I waited for a young bloke to attempt what seemed like 42 goes at parallel parking. That was all going well until the moron behind me decided to toot.
He kept tooting, so I waved him on past. Surprise, surprise, when he found out Young Bloke was blocking both lanes while doing what looked like a complicated yoga position over the steering wheel.
I reversed back so Moron could drop into line, and smiled smugly as he scowled simultaneously at the hapless young dude and at me in the rear view mirror.
“Calm, breathe, relax,” said the Little Voices, although by now, even they had gone up a key or two and were starting to stutter.
Further along and peace and tranquillity was settling over the ordered and civilised traffic flow… until the arrival of a very loud motorbike. And I mean very loud. This fine specimen of a motorist decided to share with us the delights of unbridled horsepower, through unbaffled pipes, in the hope we’d be mightily impressed. It never ceases to amaze me that the rest of us have to comply with muffler standards, but these Special Citizens astride their thunderous oversized lawnmowers seem impervious to the same rules and regulations.
It was the last straw for the quavering Little Voices who had clearly had enough. Now a blithering, stuttering shadow of their former selves; rummaging for tranquilisers and talking amongst themselves of being dropped off at the pub.
I can understand why Leo Sternbach invented Valium. He must have been trying to get through the lights at Elizabeth Street on Lobotomy Wednesday when the need arose. (It worked for him, he lived to 97.)
The Zen moment, however, occurred while passing the Sulphur Point boat ramp, and I spotted the ultimate “Tauranga Traffic Avoidance Device.” Sitting there, glowing angelic and peacefully in the setting afternoon sun; my friend’s Sealegs amphibious boat that he uses to get to town instead of a car.
Genius. No traffic hassles, no lights, unlimited speeds and passing lanes all the way. Safer than a Frontal Lobotomy; better than Valium; and no prescription required.
“Get one!” said the Little Voices.