Darwin, Australia, life

Lonely Point of Departure

Life is so short, we must move very slowly.
aThai saying (also attributed to the Talmud)

Three car pile-up at the junction of Stuart Highway and Woolner this afternoon…a massive wreckage, one person dead. Traffic jams spread out from the epicentre like spider arms…people were sitting in their cars for probably 30-45 minutes (though to hear them talk about it, you’d think they’d been stuck for four hours).

Lots of customers arrived just before closing time to Jacksons, complaining about how long they’d sat in traffic. Amazing. Three-quarters of an hour and someone horribly dead, and they were whining about the traffic.

No point sitting in that, I told Sharon as we locked the shop, and suggested a few beers at the Railway Club. At 7:20 we left, and I cycled my usual route home: crossing the Stuart Highway at Woolner. Emerging upon the Highway I found it deserted…like a scene from a movie about the apocalypse…they’d sealed Stuart Highway off from Parap lights to Ross Smith, and the streetlights were out. I crossed the empty 6-lane highway, staying well away from the dozens of police and emergency vehicles, the cranes and other trucks, and the circle of blazing halogen lights that surrounded the crash scene.

It all looked so desolate and empty. I thought “what a dreadful place to step off the world; what a last thing of this life to see before it all rushes away from you, and the darkness floods in.”

I also thought “Car drivers are mental.” They are so careless and complacent on the road…road rules are viewed as unpleasant restrictions that the government makes up to ‘cramp one’s style’ and ‘spoil one’s fun’, instead of as safety measures to save lives and prevent tragedies. Often, if they think they can get away with breaking a rule, they will. Like petulant children. They can be arrogant…they think that because they are in their coccoons of steel, and because their seats are so soft and comfortable and curve around their bodies, that they are somehow invincible. Also, they will gleefully break a rule that could result in killing someone else…snuffing out another person’s life, shattering that person’s family and friends, creating this huge expanding cloud of loss and grief, because they couldn’t bear the thought of sitting for 5 fucking minutes at a red light, and had to go straight through it.

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The irony of a Toyota advertisement on the news page about the accident. Oh what a feeling, indeed.

I don’t drive because I hate the very idea of cars, what they stand for, what humans have become because of them. There’s laziness, and often there’s bad health and corpulence; there’s the demand for fossil fuel at any cost to the planet, the consumption of resources, the idea of being wrapped in a mass-produced bubble and cut off from the world around you, the noise, the way the air smells at rush hour, the irrational impatience and constant need to be rushing somewhere (you think a car saves time? How much television do people watch? Don’t try to tell me that folks value their time if they can spare any for television…) the selfishness of drivers who believe that being in a metal box moving with great force is an instrument of power instead of a great responsibility. It’s like walking around in public, casually swinging a gun around…you should have to pass seriously strict psychological and IQ tests before you are allowed to have either.

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10 thoughts on “Lonely Point of Departure

  1. Pauline Peters says:

    Ahh my dear. I hear you. the other day we passed a car – my elderly mother was driving – in which a young man sat in the driver’s seat, one foot hanging out of his window, a phone in one hand and a cup of something in the other. no hands on the wheel, obviously this is someone who thinks that any and all safety measures are designed to infringe on his right to be a complete idiot.

    peace to you and yours. wishes for safety for us all.

    • And it’s come to light that the man who died was not the one that ran the red light. So the more mature, responsible drivers die, and the idiots survive to dominate the gene pool. :( Stay safe, Pauline!

  2. Shazzy McGrath says:

    As farmers living way out of town I rely heavily on vehicles, for our own transport as well as our stock. I love to drive , and love the style of the old 50’s cars and also take my responsibility seriously. I agree with you that there is a problem with attitudes towards roads and cars. People are way too quick, too selfish and its sad to think, that where they were going was more important than the life that had been lost…..they couldnt sit quietly and reflect on the tragic loss of life for just 45 minutes. they cant wait for coffee, But my Pet hate they cannot sit behind anyone…..especially a bike. Why is it that drivers must pass a bike, even when its not safe…..If it was a slow truck, they wouldnt PUSH past. I saw a man pass a bike on a bridge with oncomming traffic…he should have just waited until the other side. Ive argued with people about the rights of other road users its very sad..

    • Scary, more than anything, Shazz. The man who died last Friday was not the one that ran the red light. I understand the absolute importance of a vehicle for many people…it is survival. I just get riled up by the jerks who ruin the road experience for everyone else. :( Stay safe, Shazzy. *heart*

  3. I live on an island away from the maddening crowd. However living 11 miles up Haleakala on Maui necessitates the use of a car. I agree that our love affair with the car has become a crazy obsession. I cringe every time I see someone careening down the mountain ignoring the speed limits without regard for life or limb or himself or others. I, therefore, choose to take the back-roads, meandering past a little out of the way French bistro, a Mom and Pop local store and through the waving cane. This slower pace gives me the time to plan the day ahead or reflect on yesterday’s events.

  4. Valkrye says:

    Hello , Been subscribed to your lovely blog for a bit now and so enjoy your posts~ this however is my first comment because it resonated so strongly with my own personal views about cars and drivers and attitudes. I know how to drive but have never driven really, for all the reasons you mention here. I live in a major city in the U.S and as this place has grown the drivers (always notoriously bad, rude and ignorant of the basic rules of driving) have become more intensely crazy and it is scary and extremely stressful just to go to the nearest shop. So glad you brought this subject up and in complete agreement with you. I think you may be only the second person I have encountered who feels exactly this way. Not only must we deal with this sort of mentality but we also actually have the gun toting in public places you speak of. It was just a few days ago that a loaded gun was found in the toy dept. of a well known chain of dept stores~ because so many states have laws which allow guns to be carried in public places , many idiots now find it cool to show up in stores ect carrying rifles and such~ The U.S. gets more insane by the day ~ although the rest of the world apparently not immune either. So wish there were more people who think and feel as you do. If only I could find that island away from the madding crowd!

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