Last night I was merrily tripping down Kintore Ave. I’d had a good week away from my usual work-a-day drudgery and had just helped someone out in Rundle Mall alerting them to dropped goods. I was feeling charitable and in love with myself because I had lost 12 kilos and was looking okay in a short dress and new boots. I was keeping a cracking pace to earn my ten thousand steps for the day and hopefully head off a parking ticket on my car. My mind flitted off here and there, alighting on various fantasies – maybe one day I WILL write that best selling novel, or achieve the Nobel Peace Prize for my services to humanity, that I haven’t started yet, or maybe I’ll fit that dress I used to wear when I was another 8 kilos lighter….
When I arrived at my car it was dusk and I was delighted that I had not received a parking infringement for overstaying by about 8 minutes. I flicked some crap off my shiny red bonnet and proudly admired the new duco on my one year old Mitsubishi and hopped in. After wrestling with a coat I managed to settle into the car, turn on the engine and check the rear view window. I was aware of a car behind me so I eased out and as I saw the traffic behind me was moving along I assumed the car behind had moved on with it. I noticed a white car either generously allowing me to reverse into the traffic or waiting for my park. It was, after all, late night shopping and there were at least three and a half good shopping hours left of the evening.
It was then I heard the bang. It was quite a shock because I had no idea there was someone behind me. A woman appeared at my passenger window with a look of grim determination and an eye alight with a slight madness, often evident in the shiny black eye of a pure thoroughbred racehorse. Her black coat whirled about her as she presumptuously opened my passenger door and hurled herself into my car. For a horrible moment I thought she might hit me, primarily because I imagined I may have reversed into her person or narrowly missed her. Although she appeared uninjured.
“How could you be so stupid?” She yelled. I don’t know, how could I be so stupid I thought, I didn’t see you.
“I didn’t see you” I protested, truthfully, and then assumed the defensive pose – palms out, nothing to see here, no need for violence, move along…
“How could you not see me I have been stuck behind you for ages”
Okay. It was then that it dawned on me she must have broken down and not been part of the traffic as I had assumed.
I applied my very best teacher voice.
“Calm down. Just calm down. I didn’t see you and I am very sorry.” There’s a certain tone and forcefulness that becomes habitual when dealing with prepubescent, testeronically charged boys. It nearly always works.
I could almost see the anger odometer flickering about her eyes as she switched from feral outrage to moral indignation in nano seconds.
“Well you’d better pull in and we’ll exchange details”
I notice the tone had changed, the vowels were suddenly clipped rather than the howling strine that had assaulted my ears previously.
I gathered myself willing my heart-rate down and searched for a pen and paper. When she reappeared it felt like the queen had appeared before me and ducked her head into my car. My name is.. and the car is my husband’s, and it is a Porsche Boxster, registration…
Of course it fucking is…..is what went through my head as I realised I hadn’t hit a homeless person or a feral mad woman but Adelaide Royalty and my insurance premiums were about to go through the roof.
My hand was shaking as I tried to write.
“Would like to use my pen”
“Yes thankyou” I stammered
And suddenly I was back to being the inferior working class girl caught out playing in the big leagues when I should never have been there at all. I knew they’d be onto me soon.
I couldn’t get purchase on the paper.
“Perhaps if you use a hard surface like this one” she says pointing to the space behind the handbrake. I refuse to be told what to do by this horrible woman. After exchanging details I realised that two men were talking to her about moving her car for her and she was replying
“I can’t drive it at all the battery is completely dead.”
It was then that I realised she must have been sitting in her car. If she had been outside of the car I would have probably noticed her and made the connection that she was broken down. But she was sitting in her car keeping warm and blocking me from leaving my park. She would have seen my reverse lights but obviously made no move to let me know she was broken down. I was somehow just supposed to know and clearly also wait the hour or so it was going to take before she could get help?? The arrogance of her hit me in the face like a wet rag.
She reappeared at my door and asked if I was going to be allright.
Yes, yes. thankyou. Thankyou very much”
Thankyou? For what? For sitting behind me and refusing to move, refusing to let me know she was broken down, refusing to ask for help to move her goddamm black Porches fucking Boxter??? Why do I always allow the upper classes to position me as somehow less valid, less regarded, inferior and unworthy of my own outrage? Why didn’t I yell back at her – “You stupid fucking idiot why the hell didn’t you let me know you were broken down…?”
Because, as usual, I was strangled by my English manners. The ones that allow other people to push in ahead of me in the queue. The ones that compel me to apologise incessantly for everything, for breathing, existing. The ones that always say ‘yes’ when people at work want to change routines that advantage them and inconvenience me. The ones that prevent me from responding to aggressive parents who complain incessantly that not enough is happening for their poor child, when actually all I do is spend hours at school working on planning, preparing and marking..for their child. The ones that stop me from saying “actually that doesn’t work for me” to family members and friends.
I was hoping, as I pulled away, that she didn’t notice the pathetic tears that had begun to roll down my face as I started off home. I always cry. And it’s not because I am feeling sorry for myself. It’s because rage that is pent up for too long looks for release and usually it leaks from my eyes.
All I can take solace from, is the fact that her upper crusty reserves left her during her pure expression of rage. Which makes me feel smug, as I didn’t respond in kind. And, I never seem to do things by halves. If I am going to fuck something up, I do. Big time. One day I will release these English manners and stick my head out of the window and scream – I am as mad as hell and I am not gonna take it any more. And…I hope YOU, Porsche Boxster woman, you….you….lose it big on a stock market crash…or break one of your Jimmy Choo heels…or something. Yeah. That’s telling ‘em
In the car I dialled Leon and blurted out “I’ve just reversed into a Porsche Boxter”
“Er I’m in the docs at the moment can I call you back?” replied Leon as he looked down at the blood pressure bag that was currently inflating and constricting his arm.
“Blood pressures a bit high” the doctor reprimanded.
Is it any wonder really?