Yes, I am guilty. I am a 60-plus woman in a small car – a 12-year-old burgundy Barina to be exact (just so you blokes in four wheel drives can make sure that you try to intimidate me). Yes I drive at the speed limit, and because I pay my registration and insurance, I have a right to be on the road, just as you do.
I live near a highway which is my main route to wherever I need to go. As I merge into the left lane to get going, and successfully navigate my way to get into the far lane, I glance into the rearview mirror, and of course, yes there is one right behind me. Almost nudging my bumper bar (which seems to attract huge four wheel drives like a magnet), I see a testosterone ridden male glaring imperiously at me as if I have no right to be in this lane because I used to have the equipment to give birth. I do have a right, because I’m about to be doing a right hand turn at the roundabout, but no, he must overtake me. He is utterly compelled to do this. He is a man in a big car, and I am a woman in a small car. As he inserts his vehicle right in front of me, he smirks, the call of the wild has spoken. I must be dominated and vanquished at all costs.
I have nursed several semi violent fantasies within my ageing female chest. One is that when these big beasts overtake me, that my dear wee car has an amazing mechanism situated above the headlights – it glides open a la Jane Bond to reveal a pair of big 21st Century guns which fire and shoot the ratbag right up his double exhaust. The other is that my car levitates and sails above the others to safely land way ahead at the red lights before the road warrior beats me to it. It’s OK, I’ll never act upon it, I promise.
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Now I am a nice old Nanna in an old car. I have an unblemished driving record and I stick to the speed limit. I am not slow, nor am I speedy but that is a good thing. I do not tailgate nor do I change lanes without indicating. I keep a respectable and safe distance between vehicles, until a young girl (it is usually always a girl) in a black car with pink frangipani decal stickers and a pink number plate describing her as SEXY1 neatly inserts herself into the safe spot between vehicles. She slips me a contemptuous glance as she looks up from her mobile phone which she is holding along with her cigarette in her driving hand.
Then the boys in the low slung roaring utes dash on past. The cars roar like angry things, their motors are never quiet and subtle. These warriors of the road fly in and out of traffic at quick darting speeds also while on their mobile phones. Often they have P plates festooned all over their rear ends. Not sure why, probably P for the Privilege of driving at 10 kms above the speed limit, or the fact that for them, speed and mobile phones are just part of their Pesky Personas.
And the trucks, they always remind me of Byron’s poem ‘The destruction of Senacharib’, where he writes:
“The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold”
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A road train of massive semi doubles can be incredibly intimidating to an older woman in a small Barina. Yes, like a wolf on the fold. With half a dozen of them right up my boot, I am forced to drive through a red light, because if I stopped, I might be dead. Now, I know we need trucks, as consumers we like the things they carry for our consumption, I am just stating that they scare the living daylights out of me. Stuck on a four lane highway as the lean meat in a massive sandwich, I am aware as Sting so rightly sings “how fragile we are”.
I’ll finish my rant with the blue lights. What is it with the strings of blue lights that now embellish many cars? What happened to the golden tone lights which while keeping you visible on the road at night, were easier on the eye. These new blue and bright white things sear your eyeballs and actually cause pain, and temporarily blind you as you’re driving along. And when you have a huge four wheel drive right up your clacker on a dark night with his lights shining into your car, why I could almost write a text message on my phone while driving in the light he is so considerately providing. Enough said, but I am sure I am not alone.
Tell us your thoughts below – do you often feel dominated on the road?