So I’m driving to work yesterday morning, eyes glued to the clock because I think there’s an outside chance I might make in on time (I’m concerningly late in the mornings all the time, in every job I’ve ever had, and school, but that deserves a whole blog post all its own so we’ll talk about it another time) when that universally hated peak hour traffic jam presented itself and I slowed down to almost a complete stop.
Then it dawned on me: I was in the center lane.
Now I’ve taken this route to work for many years, despite moving twice in the last two years I still lived in the same general area, and logically this had always been the faster/less traffic jammed lane to stay in. Even in a traffic jam, this lane moves faster than either of its left or right compadres. So instinctively I made sure my car was in it to lessen of the possibility of experiencing the, admittedly well deserved, wrath of my boss arising from my morning chronological disability.
Except there was one minor problem: my car has developed a tendency to stall when in the lower gears/almost stopped. (I feel at this point it’s wise point out that it’s an automatic.)
As the car struggled to move forward from a complete stop my mind started racing in case it stalled. The car is duel fuel LPG/Petrol. It GENERALLY only stalled on LPG, so the logical thing to do would be to switch it to Petrol and then I wouldn’t suddenly turn this traffic jam in the worst traffic jam in history.
There were two problems with this theory:
1) The petrol gauge was already on empty.
2) When the bastard had stalled on Friday night, it had taken a good ten minutes to get it started again.
Which, yes, wouldn’t be an ideal situation in any lane, but at least in the left most lane I had a nice little breakdown lane I could’ve somehow moved the car into. If it stalled in the center lane, things would go bad very fast, unlike the traffic which would very be still for a fairly long period of time.
“Don’t stall, don’t stall, please don’t stall,” I begged my 92 Ford Falcon EB, pretending it had some sort of sentience and thus could be reasoned with.
IF my car did have some sort of free thought, it would have responded with:
“Screw you, pal.”
And thus proceeded to stall immediately. In the middle lane. In a peak hour traffic jam.
I didn’t have time to panic. I did have time to deliver a few appropriate swear words to my car as my hands flew to the LPG/Petrol switch, whilst also flinging the car into Neutral.
There have actually been a number of times in my life when I’ve been extremely grateful to hear an engine scream to life. My friends can attest to this. They’ve seen the Facebook stasuses that say “The car will start, there is no curse!”
My friend Ben has even been in the car when it stalled and wouldn’t start at an intersection (unfortunately, a far too common occurrence). Thankfully then it was 1am in the morning and no one else was around.
This was not the case right now. Right now it had to start. The boss’s wrath was now the last thing on my mind, the wrath of every commuter within a 1km radius however was. On the upside, if a lynch mob formed it would surely be more than enough people to push my car off the road first. Except, you know, for the lane full of cars between it and the side of the road.
With a desperate battle cry of “The car will start, there is no curse!” I turned the engine over for a third time, the car sprang to life, I yelled a cowboy’s “Yeee haw!” and the car rocketed forward through the space of three empty car lengths that had formed in front of me.
Thus began the most adrenaline pumping, but paradoxically slow, commute to work in recent memory. I danced a precarious balance between switching the car to Petrol when it looked like we weren’t moving, switching to LPG when moving was happening for the foreseeable future, and then switching to Petrol when yet another traffic jam presented itself.
Thankfully by the time I hit the second jam I was on a different road and, far more importantly, was in a lane that had a convenient cyclist lane I could move my piece of crap car into if it decided to shit itself again, so my stress level was remarkably lessened.
Until I got to work and my eyes fell on the clock on the dashboard.
While the ‘wrath’ is probably better described ‘extreme frustration at a repeated problem’ it didn’t fall on me that day. Though it rightfully should’ve. Again. But that is a story for another blog post.