Tuesday, June 06, 2006



Its been a 6/6/06 day.

Sitting on the narrow “ footpath” of a very busy road in our Kombi van around lunchtime, waiting for the NRMA roadside service (called the RACV and RACQ in Victoria and Queensland) to come “Help, there’s a sound in the engine as if the engine is dropping out!” I had time to ferret around in the side pocket doors of the van and do a clean up.

Life’s funny really the way it works out, especially today 6/6/06 (wirrah… wirrah) .The synchronicities are so common I am darn sure God does not play dice.

As the time went by and cement trucks played overtakies on the inside all aiming at my mirrors with gay abandon even Thorn the very handsome red kelpie with his big vets collar on to stop him licking off the expensive ointments he had just been anointed with, fell asleep on the floor with a few “humphs” of disgust at the indignities of this morning.

I dug out a little notebook which had been wet by my leaving the window open too often, but which was still legible. In it were small essays I had written while in situations like this, a year or two back. One was very relevant to what was going on.

I had originally begun this one recalling a conversation with a taxi driver in heavy rain some time ago in Sydney. It was raining as I re read it. I had asked him how did he handle it with cars going in all directions like crazies and the rain so heavy you couldn’t see much. He said it all depended on everyone doing the right thing. “It only takes one person to lose it and do something stupid, and it all goes haywire.”

So some years back, sitting in the van I wrote this,
Down below on the many laned bridge all the red brake lights are on. Now off. Now on. It all appears to be like the colours of the Giant Squids… flushing to some unknown impulse or electrical discharge.

How frail life seems from up here but how unending and huge it all seems.

Up ahead a pantec truck back ends a small sedan and the lives of both sets of occupants are changed forever.

Bones are broken. There is pain and distress, and terror. Lives are disrupted and families damaged. But for now it all seems to be in motion and unbelievable.

In the affected lanes the brake lights are on. In the unaffected lanes there are no brake lights visible in the gloom. Their world is unaffected. For a time each car seems like a mobile unit apart from all the rest.

Most will slow down for a few minutes and be grateful it wasn’t them and also genuinely sorry for those involved, out in the raw cold and rain, beyond the snugness of their unit.

Some will arrive home to noisy houses and smells. They dream of better lives and different things they’d like to be doing, as do we all sometimes. Loud conversations of complaint or internal bitching about the inequity of their particular lives for which someone else is to blame.

Others arrive home sickened by the horror they saw or had a part in. They will look at their children with new eyes and see wives and husbands as precious treasures, which most would not understand because for these ambulance, police, doctors and nurses this is the way they live but so much is kept to themselves.

Some others never go home and the lives inside their houses now teeter on the needlepoint between mundane but wonderful normality and absolute chaos as the young police walk in pairs slowly up their driveways.

All this is just life.

We cannot live on that needlepoint of frailty constantly. That leads to madness. So we journey back out in time and travel streets, swim in the ocean, boat on the rivers, catch trains and elevators and fly the skies.

Because we are human.

On and off the brake lights go. Fumes ascend and lives are changed. Its just another Thursday evening.

Tollbooth attendants flirt with the pretty girls who smilingly play the game from the safety of the car. All know the rules of this harmless game.

Rough faced boys make rude signs at people from the back seats of the parental car, giving the finger to old ladies, sticking tongues out at six foot tall wharfies…their parents totally oblivious…”not my little darling boy!”

Grey haired doctors in red sports cars “try hards” attempting to look young enough to be seen to partner sweet young blondes they have managed to inveigle into their armour…but their charm is just the car and perceived wealth. “Gals Doctors are known to be stingy”.

Council workers sitting four abreast hang arms out of windows and loosely dangle smokes and cans of Coke all the while ogling from their height the legs of anything female in the cars below; making sure they are loud about it.

Tight arsed businessmen in dark expensive cars, tap irritably on steering wheels…hanging out for that first drink or too when they hit that expensive house they hope to own one day.

Clapped out baby Boomers in clapped out cars coloured with many different shades of rust and bog fill, with wire coat hangers attached as radio antennas, look nervously at petrol gauges, which are eternally in the red…

White faced, white knuckled, middle aged country drivers like me sit right up over the wheel, peering out, terrified; running on adrenalin; fervently wishing to be out of this metropolis madness of hell.

All these and many more as there are cars in this world pass under this bridge; braking and then moving forward. Braking again and then changing lanes…hoping… raging…

It’s all so human, so ugly, so beautiful and seems now so permanent but I know its all just a flicker in time really.

Crashes to crashes.
Rust to rust.” Some years back.

And today 6/6/06 I was worried about “Crashes to crashes, rust to rust”. As each whacking big truck buffeted by the old van, I worried…not for me so much…I rang Don many times knowing he was “Home alone”, which he hadn’t been when I had left. It was funny that when I finally got home there was a mashed up old bit of banana he’d tried to get and one small empty packet of sultanas …like for kid’s lunches…spread along the bench.

I had told the NRMA of our predicament but remember its equal rights for all these days, so that as there is to be no discrimination to disabled there are also no extras provided either now that they have come out of the bedroom cupboard.

Like just suck eggs and cop it sweet.

Not to worry Therese, I tell myself, just let it go. You can’t get angry about everything. But I do get angry but not so much about things which affect me I get angry about things which affect old ladies living on bread and jam and lonely old men who look cold, and desperate looking young adults who are a step away from giving up and kids…and my husband. But don’t tell him that because he’d just poo hoo that and want to go for someone’s throat.

And when we got to our car fixer upper…he refused to drive me home because I had the dog… I could not call a taxi because I had the dog and no paper money. But out of the blue an old friend we knew wandered over and booked his car in for a rego test and offered our lovely dog and me a lift home, many miles out of his way…. Something we pay the NRMA Insurers to do!

So we had a good chat on the way home…Don and he had a good chat after and the day ended better than expected apart from the worrying question of our precious van…

We got home finally today 6/6/06. A bit of a worry about the old van as we live some miles out of town and that was an awfully sinister sound from the engine. There’s nothing like the sound of metal on metal in the engine to make you worry.

But we are all alive… along our road today ambulances flew after a truck wiped out a car. Hopefully no one was killed, but someone was most certainly hurt and had a much much worse day than I. Don had heard of this accident and, concerned rang me while I was at the vets to make sure it wasn’t me.

Many people had a much worse day. Much worse.

My sister’s little three year old…three today rang me from New Zealand to thank us for her present, a music box and winter jumper…and I sang “Happy Birthday” and realised she’d given the phone back to her mum after about three bars…hm!
Therese Mackay 6/6/06

3 comments:

charlie said...

That's a great bit of writing and observation and sensitivity, MC.

Diane S. said...

This is beautifully written.

Guess there's a lot of hard times these days. A time to hold hands and stick close to those we love. A time to remember how lucky each of us is to not be alone.

Anonymous said...

so poignant and heart-wrenching; your words took me there with you, well done! brava!

soulful1