And so we're driving driving driving down the freeway towards Newcastle. It's a brief hiatus from Country Living, a quick return to Sydney and a day or two in my home town to catch up with family and friends.
We're going at 110 kms an hour and making pretty good time for once. Tricky is quiet although we're nearing lunchtime and he has the potential to become a Screaming Tomato at any moment, and then I see something on the road ahead of us, something heavy and metal, bouncing and skidding with a twirly tail thing flapping in the breeze from all the 110 km an hour vehicles driving around it.
And then suddenly crack! and smashety smashety tinkle tinkle what the fuck was that and next thing we know we're on the side of the road with watery stuff pouring out of the engine and a cracked bumper bar that's now half hanging off the car.
C thought it had fallen off a truck and indeed there was a truck parked suspiciously on the side of the freeway with a couple of fellows hovering nearby and gauging the traffic so that they could nick out and pick up the evil metal twirly thing. It was a fair way back from us but there were two more trucks stopped just ahead.
I began to steam, just as I was sure our radiator was about to do.
In my mind I put the whole story together...three trucks tooling along the freeway, crass burly drivers chatting on their radios, making jokes about drivers of small cars, counting up their Shell dockets, sipping on their coffee thermi, suddenly a swerve, a bump and whoops there goes the Metal Twirly Thing. And now here we were about to be stuck on the side of the freeway wth a potential Screaming TomatoTime Bomb and late to Newcastle, where my Dad was waiting and where we're always late and originally we looked as if we were actually going to be on time and we only had about 48 hours in the city anyway.... and...
Before I knew what I was doing i was stomping up the freeway with a very cross face.
Excuse me! I shouted up at the first two truck drivers. Are you waiting for that third truck down there? Because a Metal Twirly Thing seems to have fallen off and we've hit it and now our radiator seems to be FUCKED.
They looked down at me, a little surprised. Also, not particularly burly.
Mmm no. We're not with that truck, the first driver explained. See...we're carriers and he's a...well looks like he's a tray top...(or similar)...
And indeed yes, these trucks had a number of cars being "carried" on their double decker trailer thingys. And indeed the third truck was much smaller and had a tray type thing and no cars at all.
Also it looked as if the two fellows had finally picked up the Metal Twirly Thing and were getting back into their truck.
Right I said. And then I added pathetically...we've got a baby in the back and it makes things a bit hard...
Well it wasn't us, said the second driver, sorry love.
I walked back to our car and described the conversation to C who was looking glumly under the bonnet.
Did you really say "fucked"? he asked. I waved that aside.
It's come off that third truck, I said, knowledgeably. That...traytop truck. See, he's not with those other two, they're carriers. And I think he's going to stop for us, I added, as it slowly drove up towards us....
...and then began to pull out onto the freeway. Once again the Cross Face appeared and this time I stomped across to the side of the freeway and energetically waved at the truck.
To my surprise it pulled in again. Yes? asked a pleasant faced young man in the passenger seat.
Did you drop a Metal Twirly Thing on the road? I asked, less beligerently than before. Because we hit it and now our radiator is...failing.
Oh no, said the young man. It wasn't us. But we stopped because it's a truck tie. And they're worth eighty bucks!
Oh, I said. Right. Lucky you.
See ya, he said, and off they went.
I took a breath. In the back of the car Tricky was playing happily with his toes.
Sometimes, I thought, i don't need to be instantly angry about a situation. Sometimes I need to just relax and stop expecting the worst and also do as the Buddhists do and just, you know, pull my head in.
I felt a little light headed, as one does when one realises that one has had a lucky escape, no one was injured or killed after all, and also as one does when one's stereotypical attitudes are shown to be incorrect.
And then, because cars are not C's strongpoint, I followed my natural instincts and rang my Dad.