Friday, September 17, 2004

Travellling the M4

The M4 is either a huge six-lane carpark, or the best motorway in Sydney. It all depends on when you travel it. Last night travelling west to basketball it was a carpark. It took me 30 minutes to travel four kilometres before I passed the site of the accident just past the Ettalong Rd overpass. A combination of rubber-necking and large number of vehicles ensured the delay, despite the fact that by the time I passed the accident all there was to show of it was little pieces of broken glass and fiberglass or plastic.

It reminded me of my one-and-only non-parking accident. That also happened on the M4

It was late morning peak hour, a beautiful day just like today. The traffic was very heavy, but at least it was moving fast, up to the 100 kph limit. I was travelling in the outside lane (that's the far-right lane travelling on the LEFT), and my mind was wandering, thinking about work. Which is not good at 100 kph. My mind jolted back to reality when all I could see was red brake-lights and tyre smoke ahead. I slammed on the brakes, but not quickly enough. I had slowed down considerably, but not enough to avoid nudging the little blue car in front. Both of us moved off the road into the centre island and got out of our cars, as did the women in the car behind me.

The in-front woman was a small Asian woman who was more than a little flustered. The following car woman was your typical westie-chick woman, probably good-looking up till the age of 18, but then an early marriage, kids and McDonalds took their toll, and I felt sure that the constant cigarettes would not have been able to check her weight gain. I asked Asian if she was OK; she assured me that she was, but remarked that something was wrong with her car, it had made a popping sound. I was a little surprised but told her that I had hit her. Westie confirmed this. There was no obvious damage to the cars however. Asian said the popping sound had come from underneath and at the back of the car. I asked her to pop her boot open so we could have a look. This she did, and I noticed that one of the catches for the bumper bar had popped off. So I eased it back in place. No damage done.

After doing this I looked up and for the first time noticed the traffic. Three lines, bumper-to-bumper moving at a crawl stretching back to Roper Rd. I'm sure we'd only been there two minutes.

I suggested we swap details. Asian insisted that there was something wrong with her car and didn't want to drive it and that I hadn't hit her. By this time, the xenophobia thing had started to kick in with Westie and whilst Asian was away retrieving her mobile, I said to her that I'd definitely hit Asian. She replied "Bugger 'er stupid bitch," or something equally soothing.

Then the Road Patrol turned up, and insisted we move off the road (we were; we were in the centre island), as despite the fact that the traffic was near-stationery, we were in danger. Asian insisted that one of the Road Patrol men drive her car up to the Service Station for her, as she was certain that the car was malfunctioning. I, once again, insisted that at the very least Asian take my business card, but no, she was fine, thank you very much. Westie parted with some racial remark, eased herself into traffic, and was gone. I waited till Road Patrol man had started up and followed into the traffic. And away I went.

The first thing I heard on the radio of course was the traffic report; apparently there was a multi-car collision eastbound on the M4 near the Walgrove Rd exit. "Extensive delays," said the announcer.

I had that rush-of-blood pounding sensation above my eyes. Ah what a nice start to the day!

Oh yes, I got to basketball on time last night. Barely.

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