Driving Ms Hazy

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

 I've just gotten over a bout of Covid. After two years of being careful, and being triple vaccinated, here we are. And whilst the world is suffering a dire dearth of hot takes from special snowflakes on their views of the epidemiological management, sociopolitical implications, and personal experiences of the pandemic, Covid isn't the story I'm telling today.


Instead I want to talk about what came next. On account of being in mandatory isolation after testing positive for Covid, and also being quite sick, I didn't drive my car for ten days, and when I did take it out again, rather than wisely taking the opportunity to refresh the battery with a nice long drive, I was still a bit ill and only went to the local shops. All of which brings us to yesterday. I get in my car, put the key in the ignition and click-click-click-click-ptooey. The car won't start. 


Luckily I already have reason to suspect the battery, because otherwise I would have no idea what is going on. All I can do to my car is drive it, and put fun things on the dashboard. I know three fifths of stuff all about how the car actually works. Listen, I'm not entirely a stupid woman. The reason why I rarely post in depth think pieces here is because I'm paid quite well to apply those insights in a professional context. This analysis doesn't translate to knowing how my car works, what can go wrong with it, and how to perform basic maintenance. But I don't need to. This is why I pay for roadside assistance. It was an easy task to make a call and have someone out within the hour to jump start the car for me, and I refused to feel embarrassed for that I don't even know how to put the car bonnet up. Why would I need to know that? Whatever goes on under there is none of my business. The only thing I could achieve by looking under the bonnet is to ascertain that the engine is still under there. My touching anything could only make things lots worse. It's best that I pay professionals to take care of things, and hope that they don't figure they could do my job because they've listened to Ray Hadley rant for 15 minutes about woke government departments. 


Anyway the guy who came out to start my car was efficient and friendly, if slightly deaf, and didn't even laugh at my not being able to get the bonnet open. He did however tell me that I should drive my freshly started car for 40 minutes to charge the battery. And I was like, "bitch, where?" except I didn't say that out loud, because generally middle aged male mechanics don't like being referred to as bitch, not even the slightly deaf ones. Driving for extended periods can be an exhilarating experience. Just you and the open road, going somewhere. However I live in inner Sydney and to get to that open road, you have to get out of Sydney. And there's absolutely nothing about driving out of inner Sydney that is exhilerating, or in any way less than tedious or exhausting. Generally, you have two options:


1. Use the network of tollroads recent NSW governments have built in consortium with private investment groups and with the enthusiasm of toddlers fingerpainting on the walls with the expensive jar of face cream they found while their parent turned away for a moment to answer the phone, except in this case the wall is local neighbourhoods and the jar of face cream is your money. You want to be against these roads in principle, but... I remember an occasion, coming to the end of West Connex near Haberfield, thinking "why couldn't they have extended this tunnel all the way to the city?" and the voice of my conscience replying "they're working on it...and you've been fighting against it for years". But you're won over against your better judgement by the promise of convenience, so you take the toll road, which costs a fortune and takes ages, because it's backed up anyway.


2. Use the existing network of older roads, requiring you to drive through dreary suburban shopping strip after dreary suburban shopping strip, slow down to 40km/hr for three hours a day because of school zones regardless of whether there's schoolkids around at a given time and stopping at traffic lights every 230 metres. This costs a fortune, due to all the petrol you burn through stopping and starting, and takes ages. 


One thing you notice driving in Sydney is even on lovely days - even on the first sunny, mild day after weeks of rain, and even with current petrol prices - everyone has their windows up. If petrol is so expensive, how can everyone afford to constantly run the air conditioning? Now, I'm a pretty indulgent parent. Yes, we need to prepare our children for a world that can be hard and unfair; I don't believe that needs to mean making things harder for kids than they have to be. But I'm an absolute tyrant when it comes to the air conditioning. Unless the steering wheel is too hot to hold, I don't, won't, put the air conditioning on. This leads to frequent conflicts with Mr 10, who will ask why I won't put on the car aircon.

"Because it's not 30℃", I say. "It is in the car!" he protests. "Well, it won't be soon if we drive a bit with the windows open". 


I quite like driving at night. The roads are quieter, the lack of daylight is soothing, and I quite like the noir feel of it all. The problems is, I generally don't have any place to go. I suppose I could be a getaway driver like Ryan Gosling in that movie, but it wouldn't really work. Picture me driving the crooks on their way to settle another feud:

"You see the mark, you know what to do." 

 "Right boss, clean shot, no witnesses, then throw-" 

 "WILL YOU TWO SHUT UP. I'm trying to concentrate. You're worried about missing your mark, first worry about missing our exit. There, see, we've missed it. I will turn this car around and go home. No execution style killing for anyone!" 

 "Ohhhh" "No complaining. You've got a bossy Mum for a, driver. It's the perfect cover. I can quit and a guy named Sol with a skinny moustache and one demerit point that has to last him 20 months can drive you. You want that? No."

Although the might prefer Sol. He'll let them have the aircon on. 
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