Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the hare and the tortoise

Ever had the wish that when some prick does something mean to you on the road, that you'd drive past them and witness some imagined misfortune of theirs and you'll be able to stick your tongue out at them?? I've had that fantasy and I suppose everyone has. Well in Tasmania this actually came true.

We were leaving Port Arthur late, at about 9:30pm. The speed limit was 80 kilometres per hour although my instinct was to drive slower at 60ks. It was very dark and the roads were windy. All of a sudden Sarah and I witnessed a menagerie of animals by the side of the road upon which Sarah insisted with a shriek that I slow down to 40ks. I obliged almost begrudgingly, yet my irateness quickly turned to eager compliance as I realised that if I had been driving faster I would have easily knocked over one of these sweet creatures. For example, a small wallaby by the side of the road began hopping in front of the car as soon as it saw our headlights. If I was driving faster than 40ks, say, 60ks, I would have undoubtedly hit the sweet magnificent creature. It was like a nighttime wonderland out there. The forests were thickset and trees were firry and they glowed a luminous light green in the dark. It felt like Finland. And with the animals it felt like an enchanted nighttime wonderland out there. Sometimes it became very misty too.

We saw a native wombat, possums, perhaps Tasmanian Devils, wallabies and rabbits, and many of them too. The thing we did notice about driving in Tasmania is that there is an inordinate amount of roadkill. So we made a pact not to kill anyone or anything as we slowly made our way back to Hobart, on this road and forest that was bountiful with wondrous wildlife.

We were very alone out there. We had one car come up behind us and overtake us. After that were were alone for a long time. It was only until about, say, 10-15ks approaching the first satellite town outside of Hobart that we had another set of headlights encroach upon us. This driver, of a white Daihatsu Terios, was particularly aggressive. He tailgated us for a long time. Sarah was fuming at him while I kept my resolve and kept to my reasonable pace. Most people it seems don't have respect for animals on the road hence the inordinate amount of roadkill. Finally the guy highbeamed us and overtook us and sped away long into the distance. He was in a hurry obviously, and perhaps he felt like he could get away with it because we had a foreign number plate on our car or something.

Later on as we were approaching the town of Sorrell we came to a very long, single-lane (two-way) bridge. There are many long bridges and waterways near Hobart. Prior to embarking onto the bridge we had to drive through a roundabout. To my left on the roundabout was a service station. Just as I was about to enter the bridge I glanced over to my left at the service station and for a split second I spied a white Daihatsu Terios moving slowly inside the service station and driving out onto the roundabout. I shrieked with laughter. I knew instinctively, with only a minimal glance, that he was the aggressive driver from before. I couldn't believe we'd be in front of him again! Sarah remarked that it was like the hare and the tortoise. And sure as hell he tailgated us on that bridge, drew on his highbeam, overtook us and sped away.

At that moment I had this gut feeling that we hadn't seen the last of him, that there'd be a third strike after these two just passed.

Immediately a large Ford Territory overtook us too and sped ahead. We thought Tasmanian drivers must be crazy in their driving habits, what with the tailgating and the overtaking on the bridge and speeding, all illegal and subject to fines and loss of licence. Anyway as the Ford Territory was speeding toward the end of the bridge, suddenly, a flashing blue and red light appeared on its turret that swirled incessantly. Sarah and I broke into shouts of cheers and joy ~ that Ford was a unmarked police car!!! And so, we trundled up slowly to see the Daihatsu Terios being pulled over by the cop car just off the bridge, and the young Daihatsu spud muffin turn his head out the window in distress as the policeman walked over to him. He would have been booked for tailgating, overtaking on a bridge, and speeding. He may have lost his licence. Tough shit you aggressive little prick. Next time you behave yourself before you end up killing someone. You may have been responsible for some or all of the roadkill we saw all over Tasmania, and not that you would give a shit about that.

There you go, the hare and the tortoise in the modern day context. We made it back to Hobart without killing any sentient being, the hare and the tortoise included!

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